LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Amid reports of extremely expensive at-home COVID-19 test kits being sold in Los Angeles, City Attorney Mike Feuer reminded the public today to beware of price gouging and report the crime, which is punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and six months in prison.
``In the face of the largest onslaught of COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, Angelenos are working hard to follow public health guidance -- including testing and isolating -- to protect their loved ones, co- workers and community,'' said Feuer.
The city attorney's office added that along with ripping off customers, price gouging fuels panic in communities when people see overly inflated prices and think there's a scarcity of supplies.
``Unfortunately, as happened at the beginning of the pandemic, some are seeking to profit from this emergency by jacking up the price of COVID-19 at-home test kits, making testing that much harder. Consumers should beware of high prices for these kits and report any suspected price gouging to my office. When we learn about possible violations we'll take action,'' Feuer said.
Sellers are prohibited from increasing the price of at-home test kids more than 10% of what the seller charged for the same product on Dec. 1, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom's executive order that is enforceable through March 31. The order also prohibits people who were not selling at-home tests on Dec. 1 from charging any consumer price that is more than 50% more than what the seller paid for the product.
People who violate the executive order face fines of up to $1,000 and six months in prison.
``It is unacceptable that during these difficult times, some are attempting to take advantage of the vulnerability and desperation of consumers. (The Department of Consumer Business Affairs) encourages consumers to be vigilant, informed and to report these issues,'' said Rafael Carbajal, Director of DCBA, which is working with the city attorney's office regarding price gouging.
People can report price gouging of COVID-19 test kits by going to lacityattorney.org/covid19 or calling 213-978-8070.
Feuer also warned Angelenos about fraudulent COVID-19 testing ``pop-up sites,'' which may be committing identity theft of insurance fraud. He urged people to look at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's list of authorized testing sites before seeking out a COVID-19 test: covid19.lacounty.gov/testing.