Coronavirus con artists: Couple makes over $100K by bulk buying disinfectant wipes and selling at 4 times the price
The couple defended the move by claming "it's just a business" and that the government was not helping them during this time of need
A Canadian couple has pocketed a six-figure sum by taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic by buying Lysol disinfectant wipes in bulk, marking up the price several notches, and then selling them online.
Manny Ranga, 38, and his wife Violeta Perez, 37, of Vancouver, Canada, starting buying boxes of the wipes from their local Costco around three weeks ago and selling them for four times the price on Amazon. Packets that usually retail for $14.50 have been sold by the couple for $64.50 on their Amazon marketplace store, a move that has earned them more than $100,000, and which they said they were only implementing so they could pay their bills.
"It's a big opportunity with all these products," Ranga told the Toronto Star. "I've got to pay the bills. With a regular job, I won't be making this money... I know it won't last forever."
"Everything we do, we're in the moment," he added. "We're hustlers."
Ranga and Perez reportedly got the idea for the price gouging scheme while they were preparing for the outbreak by stocking up on necessities and someone on a parking lot offered to pay them double the amount for their purchases. The couple then started traveling around the area where they lived, visited several Costco's, and started buying up as many boxes of wipes and hand sanitizers as they could.
When one of the Costcos threatened to limit how much they could buy, Ranga pointed out it was "not fair" because there were many others who were similarly artificially boosting prices. One of his customers on Amazon had complained in a review that they had purchased something from him, but that the "seller canceled my order the day before delivery only to put it back online and jack up the price."
Ranga, a developer by trade, defended the move, arguing it was "just a business" and that he had to do it because the government was not helping him during a time when home sales were suffering. "It's just a business I'm doing right now," he insisted. "The government's not helping us pay our bills. Kids can't go to school, my kids go to private school. I pay $20,000 a year on private school and they're not returning it."
"You know what's making, money? The shipping companies. Amazon's making money on it too."
Amazon, however, has said it has policies in place to prevent opportunistic price gouging schemes and that they have begun cracking down on such listings on their website.
"There is no place for price gouging on Amazon," the company said in a statement. "We are disappointed that bad actors are attempting to artificially raise prices on basic need products during a global health crisis and, in line with our long-standing policy, have recently blocked or removed tens of thousands of offers. We continue to actively monitor our store and remove offers that violate our policies."