Pa. among states working to investigate, crack down on price gouging

RAW Interview: PA attorney general Joshua Shapiro discusses price gouging

WASHINGTON — As store shelves and warehouses sit empty, some people are trying to make a quick buck by reselling products at a higher price, even if it’s illegal.

Aside from the risk of getting sick, coronavirus has become an obstacle course for ordinary people as they try to find affordable items like hand sanitizer, paper towels, toilet paper or face masks.

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The U.S. Attorney General asked federal prosecutors to prioritize investigating “wrongdoers seeking to profit from public panic.” Several states have created tip lines for people who suspect price gouging.

“It is natural to see some prices creep up but when you inflate prices by more than 20% of the average cost over the preceding seven days, that triggers our price gouging statute,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

According to the Pennsylvania Price Gouging Act of 2006, the cost of an item can be considered ‘unconscionably excessive.’ The law states that is “when the amount charged represents a gross disparity between the price of the consumer goods or services and the price at which the consumer goods or services were sold or offered for sale within the chain of distribution in the usual course of business seven days immediately prior to the state of disaster emergency.”

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Shapiro’s office has received hundreds of reports of price gouging across the state as Gov. Wolf continues to implement further restrictions due to the coronavirus.

Nationally, Amazon and other retailers have been cracking down on some sellers’ efforts to sell products at inflated prices.

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