One of the worst things that a person can do during the time of a pandemic is to do economic damage. There are a lot of individuals who took advantage of the current need for personal protective equipment such as N95 masks and N95 respirators in order to gain profit. When you try to profit on something that is needed by people, you are no better than the other individuals who have done a lot worse.

In this article, we will focus mainly on the fact that Price gouging and a whole lot of other problems came about during the time when the whole world needed their own supply of personal protective equipment like N95 masks and N95 respirators.

The March 2020 Situation

The March 2020 situation of the supply of N95 masks and N95 respirators is one of the worst things that have happened in 2020. The supply was hard to meet during that time especially since everybody did not know what was going on and what was going to happen after the world health organization cleared that the coronavirus is already a pandemic. There are so many ways for individuals to take it vantage of the situation and there are indeed individuals who did.

This fact forced the manufacturers as well as the government to do something to control the supply and demand situation. The March 2020 situation has definitely taken over the world in such a way that even up to this day, around eight months later, a lot of individuals are getting caught and pleading guilty to the crime of price gouging.

What Is Price Gouging?

Price gouging of N95 masks and N95 respirators were not exclusive to these commodities. It happens to many items. Price gouging is basically a situation where businesses take advantage of an external crisis, like a disaster, flooding, or a pandemic, to charge high and unexplainable prices for basic necessities that are needed during the time. People have been looking at selling the goods significantly above their usual price and then profiting more than what they should. It is a normal business practice to profit but price gouging is like profiting on other people’s misfortune.

An example of price gouging happened when people started to stockpile hand sanitizers and personal protective equipment such as surgical masks and N95 masks. The Collin brothers even went viral when they bought nearly 18,000 bottles of hand sanitizer at around $1 from stores in Tennessee and Kentucky. After the surge in the demand, they wanted to resell the products for between $7 and $70.

The Individuals Who Have Plead Guilty To The Economic Sabotage of Price Gouging

There are also other individuals who have not just reached the ire of the internet but also the ire of the courts. The following are the individuals and the situations where they have plead guilty to price gouging:

Niki Schwarz

Niki Schwarz, the owner of a vaginal steam holistic spa called the Tikkun Holistic Spa in Santa Monica was charged with hoarding and price gouging. It was found, after investigation, that the business owner hoarded and tried to increase the price after stashing nearly 20,000 N95 masks in anticipation of the pandemic. If you recall, the spa was made famous by the actress Gwyneth Patlrow when she recommended their vagical steam services. 

Eventually, Schwaz pleaded guilty to a mere misdemeanor and revealed her plan. Schwarz confessed to selling the goods “with knowledge that masks had been designated as scarce materials and with knowledge that accumulation of the designated materials to resell in excess of prevailing market prices was unlawful.” She revealed that she began hoarding the N95 respirators in February 2020 in anticipation of a nationwide shortage caused by COVID-19. 

By the end of June 2020, she had accumulated nearly 20,000 N95 masks. It was not really a big deal to have such a big stock if she was planning on selling them at cost between 86 cents and $1.27 but, as it turns out, Schwar sold her N95 masks stocks for up to $15 each, as much as a 1,100% markup. Today, Schwarz is facing misdemeanor charges with a statutory maximum sentence of one year in prison.

Springfield Man

A man in Springfield was also reprimanded and pled guilty over alleged price gouging. In a report, the man is said to have sold N95 masks at double the price of $5 for a piece of N95 masks. It was reported that the man had hundreds of masks that are still in stock but after the apprehension, he returned the masks and stopped selling.

Santa Monica Woman

A woman in Santa Monica was also charged with price gouging and also pled guilty to it. The woman sold the N95 masks at nearly 1,100 percent over the original price. On her plea of guilty she admitted that she “accumulated and resold the masks at prices in excess of the prevailing market prices willfully, that is, with knowledge that masks had been designated as scarce materials and with knowledge that accumulation of the designated materials to resell in excess of prevailing market prices was unlawful.”

Time To Stock Up

It is important to stock up on N95 masks but it is much more important to make sure that you will just stock up on the things that you need. In a world where we all need personal protective equipment, the best thing we can do is to do our part in ensuring that those who need N95 masks actually get them as well.

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