Price-gouging: LA officials crack down amid coronavirus pandemic

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles city officials are looking for the public to alert them about possible price-gouging on items like hand sanitizer and bleach during the coronavirus pandemic.

City Attorney Mike Feuer told Eyewitness News his office is checking online sellers and visiting stores to make sure they don't raise prices on high-demand items like hand sanitizer and bleach.

Los Angeles city law prohibits price increases of more than 10% during an emergency.

"No retailer, no seller can sell a good, service, medical supplies and so forth for more than 10% more than they sold the item before the emergency," Feuer said via a Skype interview.

"We're seeing numbers much higher than that."

For example, he said, his office staff found and purchased two 1-liter containers of hand sanitizer for $140 and eight half-gallons of bleach for $100.

Sellers who violate the law can face a range of criminal and civil penalties, including a year in jail, a $10,000 fine and restitution to consumers.

The city is also going after sellers who make false claims that their products, such as vitamin C, can protect against coronavirus.

Anyone who wants to report possible price-gouging or is seeking more information can go to the city attorney's website.

There have been similar reports of price-gouging across the country, with examples of stores and online sellers offering toilet paper for $10 a roll, single squirts of hand sanitizer for $1 each and face masks for $40.
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