MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) –When the COVID-19 pandemic began in Minnesota in March, a St. Paul man had made trips around the state to purchase face masks, later selling them online for inflated prices.
Attorney General Keith Ellison took action against this price gouging and reached a settlement with the man Friday.
For example, he sold a single 3M 8210 N95 mask for $24.17 on eBay, a price that was 1,744% higher than the original retail price of $1.31. As time went on, and masks became scarce, his prices continued to increase.
His practices will end under the terms of an assurance of discontinuance filed in Ramsey County District Court on Thursday. He agreed to stop selling the N95 and KN95 masks during the emergency. He also said he would pay $6,806.82 to the consumers who purchased the masks and were harmed by the inflated prices.
“We’re helping Minnesotans afford their lives during this crisis by cracking down on price-gouging on essential goods and services,” said Ellison. “People need to know that the governor’s executive order banning price gouging applies to individuals as well as retailers.”
Ellison said the man cooperated with his office’s investigation.
Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order 20-10, which went into effect in March, prohibits price-gouging on essential items like food and medical supplies for the duration of the COVID-19 peacetime emergency.