Connecticut Attorney General William Tong Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

The state had received 71 complaints of price gouging related to the coronavirus as of Tuesday afternoon, including one from a resident who recounted being charged nearly $40 for a 30-pack of toilet paper.

Attorney General William Tong’s office said the complaints stem from large price hikes on basic supplies such as hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes and toilet paper since Gov. Ned Lamont declared civil preparedness and public health emergencies on March 10.

In addition to the toilet paper complaint, other examples Tong listed include 7.5-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer retailing for more than $25 and 2-ounce bottles selling for more than $10. All of the complaints involve Connecticut stores.

Tong did not identify the specific retailers named in complaints.

“Bad actors are using this pandemic to take advantage of the vulnerable and those who fear for their health and safety,” Tong said. “We will not tolerate price gouging during this public health emergency, and we will take aggressive action to stop it. Consumers should take appropriate precautions to protect themselves personally and financially. Any consumer who suspects an instance of price gouging should contact my office immediately.”

The office also has received complaints about price gouging by online vendors.

The Office of the Attorney General has also received price gouging complaints from online vendors. One example includes a pack of face masks retailing for $50 with a $200 shipping fee.

Consumers who suspect price gouging can file a complaint with Tong’s office by visiting his website at https://www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint/ or by calling 860-808-5318.

Tong is urging consumers to file online and list accurate and specific information about vendors, prices and other pertinent details, including photographs.

According to the attorney general’s office, price gouging or illegal profiteering “means increasing the price of an item for sale at retail by more than could be justified in the ordinary course of business market fluctuations.”

The attorney general, in coordination with the Department of Consumer Protection, may file suit against price gougers and seek civil financial penalties, restitution, restraining orders and other appropriate relief.

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Keith M. PhaneufState Budget Reporter

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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