The Oklahoma attorney general said on Monday his office is investigating more than 20 price gouging complaints from citizens. Attorney General Mike Hunter said he will pursue charges against retailers that overcharge for products in high demand due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Of the 23 complaints, Hunter said none so far have resulted in criminal charges.
The price gouging statute went into effect when President Trump declared a federal emergency.
“Simply put, the law prohibits markups of 10% or more on products or services after the declaration,” said Hunter.
Hunter said illegal markups of products or services will result in significant penalties.
He also warned citizens to be cautious of online scams requesting charitable contributions and emails from potential cyber attackers.
“If you get something that looks like it’s from the WHO or CDC,” said Hunter. “Those won’t just appear in your inbox. You have to be part of a very official network. The link could introduce malware into your computer.”
Hunter added that there is not an FDA approved treatment for coronavirus and to stay away from products that claim to cure the virus.
Oklahomans said they have enough to worry about these days and being a victim of a scam is the last problem they need.
“We don’t want to be an example of price gouging or overstocking our shelves with supplies and shorting other people,” said Mo Rahman, Oklahoma City resident.
The attorney general had this to say to those tempted to take advantage of consumers.
“Understand that you can’t take advantage of people when we’re in the middle of maybe the worst public health epidemic of the century,” said Hunter.
Citizens can report price gouging or scams by calling the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Unit at 405-521-3921 or fill out an online complaint form at oag.ok.gov.