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The Ohio attorney general on Tuesday brought a coronavirus price-gouging lawsuit against a man selling hard-to-find N95 masks online at an exorbitant price.
Mario Salwan, of Chagrin Falls, with others, hoarded the hospital masks and then sold them for 18 times the actual retail price through eBay under the now-defunct user name “Donkey476,” Attorney General Dave Yost said.
“There's another word for donkey that immediately comes to mind when thinking about these folks,” Yost said in a news release. “We will continue to take action against anyone else in this state price gouging during this pandemic.”
The Ohio Attorney General's Office released this image of Donkey476’s eBay account, showing a 10-pack of N95 masks on sale for $360. The price was $2.05 each before the coronavirus crisis, officials said.<br><br> (Ohio Attorney General's Office)
Yost said that Salwan and his associates acquired 1,200 N95 masks in March—as the coronavirus crisis was getting bigger.
Beginning on March 28, Donkey476 sold packages of 10 N95 masks to 15 purchasers at prices ranging from $360 to $375 – with the prices averaging $363.43, or $36.34 per mask, he said. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the average retail price was $2.05 per mask.
According to the lawsuit, an emergency room nurse whose husband was an emergency room physician spotted Donkey476’s listing for N95 masks on eBay and reached out to Salwan.
She urged him to reconsider his exorbitant prices for equipment that health-care workers desperately are in need of because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lawsuit quoted Salwan as telling the nurse, “You and your husband should work for free during this crisis, you are greedy!”
The lawsuit seeks the seizure of unsold masks and damages.
Fox News left a message at a number associated with Salwan that was not immediately returned.