TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WMBB) — Fraud schemes related to COVID-19 are on the rise in Florida, as scammers look to take advantage of people in various ways during the coronavirus pandemic.
Scams include text messages claiming to offer victims yet-approved stimulus package money, crooks going door-to-door in lab coats posing as Center for Disease Control employees, and seniors being offered free COVID-19 test kits in exchange for personal information.
Additionally, complaints continue to come into the state’s price gouging hotline.
As of Monday night, Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office had received 628 complaints regarding products such as cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, and face masks.
“At a time like this, to charge them exorbitant prices for the things they will need to keep their families safe is disgusting and unlawful. We will continue to pursue them throughout the duration of this crisis,” Moody said.
Moody is working with federal prosecutors to stop scammers, while businesses caught overcharging consumers face fines of up to one thousand dollars per violation. Counties with the largest number of consumer complaints include Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Hillsborough.
“We are seeing an uptick in reports of price gouging, as to essential commodities. That would be hand sanitizers, cleaning products, face masks. Those are what the Department of Health has told us are essential at this time. We are focusing our price gouging efforts on those items,” she said.
Consumers who feel prices on essential items have been drastically increased can contact the price gouging hotline at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM or by downloading the NO SCAM app to your smartphone.