State will sue feds over ban

New York State Attorney General Letitia A. James. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

The state’s attorney general is calling on Craigslist to remove recent posts attempting to sell fake items that claim to provide “immunity” to COVID-19.

The attorney general, Letitia James, sent a letter to counsel for Craigslist.com, calling on the company to immediately remove posts that attempt to unlawfully and fraudulently profit off consumers’ fears around COVID-19, a statement from her office announced Friday.

“Multiple posts in recent days have attempted to sell fake items that purportedly claim to provide “immunity” to the coronavirus or allow individuals to test for the disease,” the statement said, “while others have sought to exorbitantly charge consumers for items like hand sanitizer.”

Ms. James ordered Craigslist to remove postings where users have attempted to sell a number of fake items, including “immunity packs,” which have no basis to the claims that they will help protect consumers from contracting or fighting the coronavirus. There is currently no Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccine to prevent the disease or treatment to cure it, and the World Health Organization has also said that there is no specific medicine to prevent or treat the coronavirus.

Additionally, a number of ads claim to sell products — including coronavirus “testing kits,” “protect[ive]” kits, and “N94” masks — which fraudulently claim to test for the disease and offer protection against it, a press release said. The images of these fake test kits have been stolen from different government and private websites, and there has been no evidence of an N94 mask ever existing.

The letter also ordered Craigslist to remove posts that are in clear violation of New York’s price gouging law by attempting to sell, for example, a 1,200 ml bottle of Purell for the exorbitant price of $222.

Finally, the letter demanded that Craigslist provide the Office of the Attorney General with information with respect to all proactive efforts the company is taking or planning to take to detect and remove similarly fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading postings on its platform related to the coronavirus.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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