Baldwin News Fined in COVID-Related Consumer Protection Violation

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PARSIPPANY — Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs announced actions against a dozen merchants for consumer protection violations related to COVID-19, with penalties totaling tens of thousands of dollars, including a Parsippany business.

Among those subject to enforcement actions are two North Jersey businesses that allegedly made false or unsubstantiated claims in the sale of COVID-19 antibody tests and a Monmouth County business that was selling face masks at as much as six times the manufacturer’s retail prices.

These actions are the latest of many taken by the Division to address the unprecedented number of consumer complaints and referrals received during the current public health emergency.

To date, the Division has sent 1,884 cease and desist letters to retailers suspected of price gouging and other unconscionable business practices during the coronavirus pandemic and issued 110 subpoenas seeking additional information in its investigations of alleged violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, we made clear that we would take a tough stand on price gouging and other abuses of New Jersey consumers,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Enlisting the help of residents to report unconscionable practices works. Most businesses are following the law. For those that are not, these actions are a reminder that the penalties for violations are significant.”

The Notices of Violation (NOVs) filed in this latest round of enforcement actions carry individual penalties ranging from $500 to $12,500, depending on the severity and number of violations.

The single largest civil penalty was assessed against Performance Supply LLC, for allegedly making false and misleading statements in advertising N95 mask respirators for sale to personnel from the New York City Office of Citywide Procurement. The Division alleges that the company’s quote misleadingly suggested the company is an authorized dealer or distributor for 3M Company and offered to sell seven million face masks that retailed between $1.02 and $1.31 for $6.05 and $6.35 each.

Retro Fitness of Rockaway was assessed a $2,000 civil penalty for allegedly making unsubstantiated claims related to antibody testing made available to club members via a health and wellness center affiliated with the club.

In Parsippany, News Plus, 138 Baldwin Road was assessed $500 in civil penalties for their alleged failure to post selling prices for merchandise such as bottled water, toilet paper, and sanitizers, a violation of the Merchandise Pricing Statute. (Click here to review complaint).

Consumers who suspect consumer fraud violations, or believe that businesses have unfairly increased their prices in response to COVID-19, are encouraged to file complaints online to report specific details related to the increased prices. Photographs of items being sold, their price, and receipts can now be uploaded to our new price gouging complaint form.

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