Beware of misinformation, price gouging, and scams connected to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Scams related to coronavirus can include:
• Websites selling fake cures and safety gear.
• Fake emails, texts and social media posts from phishers posing as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), or Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and spreading false information about a cure in an attempt to get credit card and personal information, or to convince people to click on links that can infect their computers with malware.
• Fake donation requests, which may come in the form of people asking for donations to help those impacted by coronavirus and needing donations only by cash or gift card.
• Fake investment opportunities, such as products or services of publicly-traded companies being able to treat and cure coronavirus and whose stock will dramatically increase, so consumers are pressured to “Get in now!”
It’s important to recognize online scams and misinformation, including those involving unsubstantiated advertising claims about alleged coronavirus prevention, treatment and cures, or even safety products—such as protective masks—that may not perform as advertised.
We must also be on guard for products being sold at astronomical prices, otherwise known as price gouging. Under the law, it’s unlawful for any consumer good, food or service to be sold or offered for sale at a price higher than 10% more than it was sold or offered for sale prior to the emergency declaration. Besides ripping off consumers, price gouging has another negative consequence; just seeing such inflated prices can instill panic about a scarcity of items tied to this emergency.
There is no room for criminal activity that preys on the public in these trying times. The City of Pasadena takes these threats seriously. Anyone committing such a criminal act, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Violators may be sentenced to up to one year in county jail and/or fined up to $10,000.
If you or anyone you know has been the victim of price gouging or a coronavirus consumer scam, please contact the City Prosecutor’s Office at (626) 744-4611 or the Pasadena Police Department at (626) 744-4241.