While millions around the country scramble to stock up in the anxiety and confusion caused by the coronavirus outbreak, price-gougers and scammers are having a field day. State law enforcement officials have seen a surge in complaints about skyrocketing prices of essential items from retailers (price-gouging) and fake messages to solicit money (scamming).

  • In Florida, one seller was offering 15 N95 face masks on Amazon — for $3,799.
  • In Massachusetts, a convenience store was selling milk for $10 a gallon.
  • And in Minnesota, a smoke shop was charging $79.99 for 36 rolls of toilet paper.

Price-gouging is illegal in many states, but it continues because it can be difficult to prove and consumers often aren’t aware of the laws. Scammers have been luring people into giving away their money, often over the phone or Internet, by pretending to have a cure for the virus or by pretending to be a medical facility in need of some cash.

So beware, and know your rights! The coronavirus is bad enough; your wallet doesn’t have to suffer too.