The New York Attorney General's office is continuing to aggressively go after marketers that it says are making false and misleading claims related to the prevention and treatment of the coronavirus.
At the end of last week, the AG's office sent a letter to Craigslist, asking the company to take down posts that make false claims related to the coronavirus or that include price gouging. The AG cited posts that promoted an "immunity pack," a fake coronavirus testing kit, and face masks that are not proven to provide coronavirus-related protection. The AG's office also asked Craigslist to pull an ad for a bottle of Purell that was being sold for $222. In addition, the AG's office asked Craigslist to explain what it is doing to detect and remove other similar posts. New York Attorney General Letitia James said, "We’re demanding that Craigslist remove these posts immediately and ensure the company has policies in place to stop scammers from taking advantage of vulnerable and panicked consumers."
The AG's office also sent letters to GoDaddy and other domain name registrars asking them to take back domain names that are being used for coronavirus-related scams and fake remedies. The AG's office asked the registrars to describe the steps they are taking to detect and prevent fraud through the domain names that they register. James said, "These scam sites are not only stoking fear in the hearts and minds of Americans, but are profiting off their appalling deception."
In addition, the AG's office ordered Wayne Allyn Root to stop marketing -- through "The Wayne Allyn Root Show" and his social media accounts -- products as treatments or cures for the coronavirus. James said, "“As the coronavirus continues to spread across the country, so too are the deceptive and predatory businesses seeking to take advantage of consumers. Mr. Root is just the latest example of this exploitative behavior that not only misleads the public, but actually compromises our health and safety."
It's interesting to see how quickly the New York Attorney General's Office -- and other law enforcers across the country -- have mobilized to aggressively address fraud and price-gouging issues related to the coronavirus health crisis. It's also very interesting to see how the NYAG is using innovative methods -- such as working with platforms and domain name registrars -- to try to address these issues (when platform and registrar liability is less clear).
"My office will not hesitate to take action against all those who use the coronavirus as a get-rich-quick scheme at a consumer’s expense" -- New York Attorney General Letitia James