SPRINGFIELD, Mo- The Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has issued a cease and desist letter against a Springfield man for selling face masks.
The man was selling the N95 masks at inflated prices around Springfield. When KOLR10 originally planned to run a story, the masks were being sold by the man at $12.50 each. The man then lowered his prices.
According to a press release, during an investigation, the AG found the man tried to sell masks to an undercover investigator from the Attorney General’s Office for $5. That price is double the usual retail price.
The AG says that the man has returned at least 600 masks to retailers he had purchased them from and has stopped selling masks.
“We’ve seen certainly an uptick in those complaints to our office – over 250 – as it relates to this particular set of circumstances whereas just a week ago we were only at a couple dozen,” said Schmitt. “So we’ve certainly seen more people call in. Price gouging is a big focus for us right now, and we want people to know that’s illegal, and the Attorney General’s office is going to take action whenever necessary.”
COVID-19 has impacted local stores that haven’t been able to keep things on their shelves like these medical face masks.
The Executive Director for Missouri’s Health Department, Dr. Randall Williams, says face masks serve more of a purpose for those who are ill.
“If you’re sick, wear a mask, or socially isolate yourself. Masks do not prevent you from getting the disease. If you think wearing a mask is going to help you not get sick, it doesn’t,” Williams says.
Despite that advice from the State’s top health official, it hasn’t stopped people from clearing the shelves of masks at stores across Springfield.
The AG’s office is now partnering with Facebook and Amazon to monitor for price gouging.
If you see price gouging happening, you are encouraged to give the office a call.
Ozarks First ran a story on the man on March 5th.