Coronavirus: DOJ issues warning over price gouging

The United States Department of Justice is prepared to prosecute those who would fix prices or rig bids for personal health equipment during the coronavirus outbreak.

On Monday, the department announced its intention to make sure items like sterile gloves, face masks, respirators and diagnostics remain reasonably priced.

“The Department of Justice stands ready to make sure that bad actors do not take advantage of emergency response efforts, healthcare providers, or the American people during this crucial time,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a news release. “I am committed to ensuring that the department’s resources are available to combat any wrongdoing and protect the public.”

Barr's office said this effort is to put federal and local health authorities, the private health care sector and the general public are in the best position to respond to the outbreak.

Many brands had already taken steps to fight price gouging. Items like hand sanitizer, masks and disinfecting wipes were banned from eBay, FOX Business reported.

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Officials encourage anyone wishing to report price-fixing or bid-rigging schemes to contact the Antitrust Division's Citizen Complaint Center at 888-647-3258 or visit the website.

This story was reported from Atlanta.