AUSTIN, Texas - Attorney General Ken Paxton, in partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Northern, Southern, Western, and Eastern Districts of Texas, is warning 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.
In a release, officials say that scammers may advertise PPE that they do not actually have in attempts to make a quick profit as demand for PPE increases.
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The products may be counterfeit and mislabeled, and some may not exist at all.
Officials say some of the scammers reach out to consumers and government entities directly through email or social media to push products. Red flags that it may be 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
Officials say there are also 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.
For additional information on disaster scams, please visit the disaster scams website.
More information on unapproved or counterfeit PPE can be found at cdc.gov/niosh. You can also find information on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website and the Environmental Protection Agency website.
If you have information about PPE-related fraud, or about hoarding or price gouging of critical supplies, you can report it without leaving your home to the National Center for Disaster Fraud by calling the National Hotline at (866) 720-5721 or by submitting the NCDF Web Complaint Form.
FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com.