Coronavirus: Ohio man accused of price gouging to give up masks, refund money

A northeast Ohio man accused of price gouging will give up the N95 face masks and refund those who bought the masks from him thousands of dollars as part of a settlement.

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Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a lawsuit against Mario F. Salwan of Chagrin Falls earlier this month for selling N95 face masks needed for health care workers in the coronavirus pandemic at nearly 18 times the retail price.

Salwan was operating on eBay under the username Donkey476 to sell the masks.

On March 28, the eBay account sold 10 packages of masks to 15 purchasers at prices ranging from $360 to $375. The average prices was $363.43, or $36.64 per mask.

Prior to the pandemic, the masks were retailing at an average of $2.05 per mask.

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“We will continue to make sure no one unjustly profits by exploiting the anxiety of others during this pandemic,” Yost said. “The settlement also will provide essential equipment to the heroes – our doctors and nurses – who need it the most.”

Salwan will reimburse those who purchased the masks in excess of $15,000 and the state $1,500 in investigative costs.

He will also give 570 N95 to the attorney general’s office. Ten masks will go to the health care officials who alerted the attorney general’s office to the sales and 560 will be donated to MetroHealth System in Cleveland.

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“I want to thank Attorney General Yost for his efforts in making sure that these masks are used by front-line personnel,” said Dr. Akram Boutros, MetroHealth president and CEO. “Personal protective equipment like this is invaluable in our community’s fight against COVID-19 because it keeps all care providers safe while they work tirelessly to keep our patients and our community safe.”

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