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$10 Toilet Paper? Coronavirus Gouging Complaints Surge in U.S.

SINGAPORE - FEBRUARY 9: A woman takes a packet of toilet paper off a half-empty shelf at a supermarket after news of the raised outbreak of coronavirus became public people have been panicked to stock up on necessities as on February 9, 2020 in Singapore. The total number of people infected in Singapore has grown to 40. (Photo by Ore Huiying/Getty Images)

Despite authorities trying to clamp down, price gouging on basic necessities is happening across the U.S. Examples include a stores advertising hand sanitizer at $60 a bottle, $26 thermometers, face masks at the “everyday low price” of $39.95, and a convenience store selling toilet paper for $10 a roll next to a sign reading: “This is not a joke.”

The AP conducted a survey of state attorneys general or consumer protection agencies, and found over 5,000 reports of gouging, and that reports were filed in pretty much every U.S. state. “Greed is a powerful motivator for some people,” said Josh Stein, the attorney general of North Carolina, where the number of reports jumped from 72 to 131 one day earlier this week. “It is inexcusable to prey on people in a vulnerable time to make a quick buck,” he said.

Online re-sellers on sites like Amazon and Walmart have also had to clamp down on the practice, and Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department would “come down hard” on profiteers.

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