In a nutshell: Shysters for decades have used fear as a vehicle to make a quick buck during times of crisis. Unsurprisingly, modern health scares are no exception as suspect sellers are using Amazon’s online marketplace to try and swindle shoppers.
Amazon this week told Reuters that it has banned the sale of more than a million products in recent weeks that claimed to cure or defend against the coronavirus. Tens of thousands of additional listings attempting to price-gouge customers have also been taken down, the online retailer added.
“There is no place for price gouging on Amazon,” a spokesperson told the publication.
Using price tracker service camelcamelcamel.com, Reuters identified multiple items that had seen a significant price bump in recent weeks including a 10-pack of N95 masks for $128 – up from an average selling price of around $41 – and a respirator two-pack for $24.99 that normally goes for less than $7.
COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, first surfaced in the Wuhan region of China in December 2019. As of this writing, more than 83,000 cases have been confirmed with at least 2,800 deaths attributed to the virus.
The health scare has caused disruption around the globe, resulting in travel restrictions, cancelled events and the stockpiling of supplies. Facebook canceled its F8 developer conference and organizers called off the world’s largest mobile industry trade show for the first time in its 33-year history. Major participants are already pulling out of next month’s Game Developers Conference, too.
The latest casualty is the Geneva Motor Show which was called off today after the Swiss government banned gatherings involving at least 1,000 people.
Masked man by Helen Sushitskaya