AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit Thursday against an auction company for price gouging medical masks.
Auctions Unlimited LLC listed on its website an auction of “over 750,000 face masks,” along with N95 particulate respirators, hand soap, all-purpose cleaner and disinfectant wipes.
Bidding for N95 respirator masks climbed as high as $180 for a package of 16 masks, and Auctions Unlimited LLC owner Tim Worstell admitted to receiving warnings from local police and the Texas attorney general’s office, but went ahead with the auction anyway, Paxton said.
“The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act expressly prohibits anyone from selling necessary items at an excessive price when a disaster is declared and, despite repeated warnings from law enforcement, that is exactly what we’ve seen Auctions Unlimited do,” Paxton said.
A disaster declaration, which Texas is under, triggers tougher penalties under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Companies or individuals that price gouge may be required to reimburse customers and could be fined up to $10,000 per violation, $250,000 if the victim is elderly.
Texans who believe they have encountered price gouging should call the Office of the Attorney General’s toll-free complaint line at (800) 621-0508 or file a complaint online.