Soon after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an emergency declaration in March amid the coronavirus pandemic, state Attorney General Ashley Moody activated Florida’s Price Gouging Hotline for consumers to file complaints related to essential commodities needed to prevent contracting the virus.
On Thursday, state Attorney General Ashley Moody announced that over $700,000 has been recovered for consumers contacting the Florida Attorney General’s Office regarding COVID-19 related purchases and scams.
“As Florida’s attorney general, I will always do whatever it takes to help consumers that have been taken advantage of—especially in times of crisis. That is why even before the emergency declaration went into effect, we were working with businesses and consumers to secure refunds, remove online posts offering items for outrageous prices and stop deceptive business practices. I am pleased with the results we are getting for consumers, but rest assured, our work is far from over and we continue to wake up early every day and focus on building a stronger, safer Florida,” Moody said on Thursday.
In addition to securing $703,043 for consumers since activating Florida’s Price Gouging Hotline, the Florida Attorney General’s Office:
- Received approximately 4,800 consumer contacts about the price of essential commodities
- Made more than 7,800 referrals and contacts to merchants about allegations of price gouging, refunds and scams
- Issued 82 subpoenas to further price gouging investigations
- Worked with online platforms to deactivate 224 posts offering items for outrageous prices
According to the attorney’s general office, violators of the price gouging statute are subject to civil penalties of $1,000 per violation and up to a total of $25,000 for multiple violations committed in a single 24-hour period.