U.S. Attorneys in Texas and Attorney General Paxton Partner to Warn Consumers of Fraudsters Selling Counterfeit, Mislabeled, and Non-Existent PPE
(STL.News) – Today, U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Cox joined fellow U.S. Attorneys in Texas—Ryan K. Patrick in the Southern District, Erin Nealy Cox in the Northern District and John F. Bash in the Western District—and Attorney General Ken Paxton to inform the public about several fraudulent schemes involving masks, personal protection equipment (PPE), and other COVID-19 related equipment. They urge everyone to exercise increased due diligence and caution when dealing with new suppliers or vendors, especially when using a third-party broker.
As demand for PPE increases, scammers may advertise equipment they do not actually have in attempts to make a quick profit. These PPE products may be counterfeit and mislabeled, and some may not exist at all. Some fraudsters reach out directly to consumers and government entities through email or social media to push their products. Red flags that a seller may be engaging in a scam include:
- Unusual payment terms
- Last-minute price changes
- Last-minute excuses for delay in shipment
- Unexplained source of a large quantity of material
- Evidence of re-packaging or mislabeling
There are ongoing federal and state prohibitions on charging exorbitant prices for PPE during this time of national emergency. Texans who believe they have encountered scams or price gouging should call the Office of the Attorney General’s toll-free complaint line at (800) 621-0508 or file a complaint online.