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AG Nessel Warns Businesses Seeking to Illegally Profit from Coronavirus Fears

March 3, 2020

LANSING – Michigan residents should be on high-alert for anyone who tries to take advantage of their fears about Coronavirus, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel warned.

Nessel cautioned consumers after learning that a west Michigan retailer was selling individual face masks – packaged in Ziploc bags – for $10 apiece.

“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.” 

Nessel’s office was first alerted to the activity late Monday afternoon from a west Michigan reporter. One of Nessel’s assistant attorneys general has reached out to the retailer in an effort to obtain more information. The retailer’s action may be a violation of Michigan Consumer Protection Act, which makes the following actions unlawful:

  • 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 or by calling 877-765-8388.