DENVER (CBS4) – With consumers panicking — buying toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other personal hygiene items, CBS4 found an underground network of scalpers and gougers re-selling personal hygiene items at vastly inflated prices during the coronavirus crisis.
“My son and I bought them — coronavirus,” said one man who was upselling toilet paper.
He had advertised the rolls of toilet paper on Craigslist. Packages of four rolls that normally sell for about $1 each in stores, he was now selling for $4 to $5 each.
“If you want more, it will be gone by tomorrow,” said the man, as he spoke to an undercover CBS4 Investigates crew. He said business had been brisk as he had sold about 100 rolls already at inflated prices.
He met the CBS4 crew in the Cherry Creek North area and showed off dozens of rolls of new packages of toilet paper in his car.
When told he was on an undercover camera, he said, ”I don’t want to talk further to you,” and took off.
CBS4 contacted and met with another man selling 2 ounce bottles of hand sanitizer on Craigslist. They normally retail for $4 to $5 each, but the man had marked them up to $20 each.
“Did you want to do all three for $40?” asked the man, negotiating with an undercover CBS crew.
He said he had sold other bottles, primarily to people concerned about coronavirus.
But when he was asked about gouging for a high-demand item, the man agreed saying, ”You’re right about that. I just wanted to cash in and make a few bucks.”
He ultimately said he didn’t feel right about what he was doing, returned the money and said, “Sorry. I still don’t feel right. Will put them back up at regular price.”
Facebook marketplace and Craigslist are littered with ads offering personal hygiene items at increased prices. One man was selling a bottle of hand sanitizer for $100 that normally sells for $15. Another offering a 32-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer asking for “best offer.” Another Craigslist seller was offering to sell containers of 75 Clorox disinfecting wipes for $20 each. They normally retail for about $5. “Cash only,” wrote the seller, “No holds, first come first served.”
While what they are doing may feel distasteful and immoral to some, it is not illegal in Colorado.
More than 30 states have laws against price gouging during a state of emergency or disaster, but Colorado is not one of them.
On social media, one commenter wrote of the CBS4 Investigation, “At a time when people should come together, slime balls come out of their closets. If there aren’t laws in place, I hope the state Legislature and Governor pass and implement serious consequences for price gouging. Shame on those taking advantage of a serious situation.”
Another social media commenter wrote, “How low can people go?”