Coronavirus News: 7 On Your Side uncovers PPE price gouging on NYC streets

Nina Pineda Image
Friday, June 5, 2020
7 On Your Side tracks down street vendors overcharging for PPE
Nina Pineda uncovers the illegal PPE price gouging happening on the streets.

BROOKLYN, New York (WABC) -- A growing legion of street vendors in New York City have been overcharging for scarce cleaning products like Lysol during the coronavirus pandemic, but is it illegal?

Writer and editor Sabrina Bovell, said it was like striking liquid gold, when she found the coronavirus-killing Lysol.

It's a rare commodity that hasn't been spotted on store shelves since the pandemic began.

Bovell says she would've paid $10, $15 -- even $20 for a can, but the price she saw the Lysol spray selling for made her angry.

Bovell went to two PPE pop-up vendors in her Brooklyn neighborhood. One vendor in Park Slope was selling face masks, rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer and Lysol. The price for a can of the disinfectant was up to $50.

Both vendors said they were simply selling for another guy.

"He's profiting off our misery, basically off our necessity to have this thing," Bovell said.

Consumers have a choice.

"You don't have to buy it, but basically we don't have a choice because he's the only one available," Bovell said.

She says it's like a cable company who monopolizes.

Bovell called 311 to report the price gouging, but they said they don't research vendors. That's when Bovell called 7 On Your Side.

Our team called the NYC Department of Consumer Protection.

NYC Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Lorelei Salas, says that since mid-March, they have sent out over 10,000 gouging violations.

That's more than the agency usually sends out in an entire year.

The pharmacy we reported on back in March, for selling $50 Purell and $200 masks, has been fined $37,500.

"This is not the time to be taking advantage of people who need access to these products to protect themselves," Salas said.

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