The attorney general is investigating five online retailers after Amazon flagged them for large price increases on masks, sanitizer and antibacterial wipes.
The retailers are located in Danbury, Stamford, Milford, East Hartford and Waterbury.
One is accused of charging $33.47, a 261 percent increase from the January price, for a 12-ounce two-pack of Purell hand sanitizer, according to the attorney general. The retailer sold 12,377 units between Feb. 10 and March 16.
Another retailer is accused of charging $115.91 for a 4-pack of 1,000ml Purell hand sanitizer, at a 174.8 percent price increase. The retailer sold 49 units.
One retailer is accused of charging $555.25 for a 40-pack of 3M N95 masks and sold three of them at a 565 percent price increase.
The attorney general said one retailer charged $88.14 for a 10-pack of 3M N95 masks at a 282 percent price increase and sold 76.
Another retailer charged $78.88 for a 20-pack of 3M N95 masks, a 391.5 percent price increase, and sold 27 units.
“These vendors were flagged by Amazon for huge price increases on high-demand items people need to keep themselves safe right now. Price gouging during a public health emergency isn’t just wrong, it’s against the law,” Attorney General William Tong said in a release.
“We are requesting detailed information from these vendors, including the wholesale prices they paid and what they are charging consumers. If we find evidence of price gouging, my office is prepared to take strong and swift action to protect consumers,” Tong added.
The attorney general said his office has received 558 complaints about 313 retailers in the state and letters of inquiry have gone out to 255 of the businesses, including online and brick and mortar stores.
Connecticut’s statute does not prevent retailers from increasing prices if their wholesale costs go up, but the attorney general said price gouging is against Connecticut law during a declared public health emergency. That applies to third party sellers based in Connecticut selling products on platforms like Amazon, e-Bay, Facebook and CraigsList who seek to profit from consumers’ fears of unprecedented supply shortages and illness.
Anyone who suspects price gouging should file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General online at https://www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint/ or call the Office of the Attorney General at 860-808-5318.