MI AG Dana Nessel sends cease and desist to business for price-gouging, misrepresenting types of masks

Published: Apr. 14, 2020 at 3:37 PM EDT
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Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel's office said it has sent a cease and desist letter to a Wyoming business for price-gouging and misrepresenting the types of face masks it was attempting to sell.

The attorney general's office said the company was attempting to sell to an employee of a Lansing-area hospital, in addition to other violations of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.

The cease and desist letter was sent to Seek Everest LLC after the Nessel's office received a complaint from an anesthesiologist at Sparrow Hospital, Nessel's office said.

The attorney general's office said although the company is formed as a business entity in Wyoming, the company transacts business online and does not reveal its true base of operations.

The attorney general's office said the company was trying to sell the employee a mask claiming it was an N-95, but it was actually a mask from China and might not offer the same protections.

"The company also indicated the masks were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are “medically sterile,” providing a false sense of security to the consumer," according to a release from the attorney general's office.

Nessel's office said the company is operating a drop-shipping business, but is trying to make consumers believe it is a manufacturer of goods.

The attorney general's office said drop-shippers create a website to collect payments from consumers and then order products from another company to have it shipped to the consumer.

“Price-gouging, misrepresentation of goods and services, attempting to mislead or deceive customers, and failing to provide refunds appropriately – this all adds up to illegal activity under Michigan law and I won’t tolerate it,” Nessel said. “This business appears to have a poor track record, and now it is potentially putting Michiganders’ lives at risk by selling face masks under false pretenses. This type of behavior is not only unlawful, it’s morally reprehensible and it must stop.”

Sparrow Hospital released the following statement on the incident:

“Sparrow Health System is grateful to the Michigan Attorney General’s office for investigating unscrupulous companies taking advantage of the healthcare providers and industry during this COVID-19 pandemic. At Sparrow, we provide certified Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all clinical Caregivers, meeting the highest standards and regulatory requirements. Sparrow has no record of doing business with the vendor mentioned in the cease and desist letter, past or present. For 124 years, the safety of our patients, caregivers and physicians has always remained our top priority.”

The attorney general's office said the company has 10 days to provide the attorney general's office with assurances of voluntary compliance and must agree to not sell or market any products to Michigan consumers.

It must also give the office contact information for anyone in Michigan who has purchased masks from the company, Nessel's office said.

To view the cease and desist letter, click

To file a complaint of scams like this one, click

or call the tip line at 877-765-8388.

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