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AG Dana Nessel warns businesses trying to illegally profit on coronavirus fears

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Posted at 2:02 PM, Mar 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-03 15:20:41-05

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — Michigan Attorney General has issued a warning to Michigan residents to be alert about anyone trying to take advantage of coronavirus fears.

According to the AG's office, the warning comes after learning a west Michigan retailer was selling individual face masks in Ziploc bags for $10 a piece.

“Those who think they can profit off the rising fears about coronavirus need to think again,” Nessel said. “The Michigan Consumer Protection Act makes price-gouging illegal. It also gives our office tools it can use against profiteers who fuel panic by manipulating prices and supplies.”

Her office was alerted to the activity on Monday from a reporter. One of the assistant attorneys general has reached out to the retailer to learn more information, and said it may violate the Michigan Consumer Proection Act by:

  • Charging the consumer a price that is grossly in excess of the price at which similar property or services are sold; and
  • Causing coercion and duress as the result of the time and nature of a sales presentation.

“I will not hesitate to bring the hammer down on any person or business that uses this public health threat to feed their own greed,” Nessel continued. “So, whether you run a national chain, a local store or are just looking for ways to get rich on eBay, the expectations are the same: follow the law. We are at the beginning of a unique and potentially difficult situation. It is my sincere hope that we will all pull together and help protect the most vulnerable among us.”

Michigan residents are urged to report any violation of the Consumer Protection Act online [lnks.gd] or by calling 877-765-8388.