WHITESTRONE, Queens — Two Queens grocers were charged with price gouging after undercover detectives visited their Whitestone store and discovered masks being sold at an inflated price, according to the DA.
Officials said an undercover detective visited the Raspberry Farm grocery store at 150-15 14th Ave. in Whitestone, Queens on Wednesday, just after 8 a.m.
There, the detective saw and was sold boxes of face masks sold in 2-packs for $10. These masks cost about $1 each, the DA said.
A second detective visited the store shortly after 12 p.m. the same day and saw 12 boxes of 10 KN95 masks listed for $45 each.
Police allegedly recovered 24 boxes containing 10 KN95 masks, 35 boxes containing 50 disposable face masks, 31 boxes containing 4 disposable masks, 153 single packs of KF94 face masks and 67 dust proof face masks.
Tae Kyong Kim, 49, of College Point, and Jung Soo Lee, 61, of Bayside, with a code violation, stating it is "unconscionable trade practice to increase the price of essential goods and services during an imminent threat to public safety more than 10 percent above the price at which the same good could have previously been purchased by consumers 30 to 60 days prior to the March 15, 2020 rule," the DA said.
The defendants allegedly told police they had increased the prices of everything in their store by 50%, the DA said.
“Sadly, the outbreak of the coronavirus has inspired greed and manipulation," said Queens DA Melinda Katz. "We are actively seeking out individuals and businesses that would take advantage of people’s real fears during this pandemic to line their
own pockets. If you know of a business or individual inflating the price of needed personal protection equipment, please call my office at 718-286-6673.”
“The individuals charged in this case put profits over the health of their fellow New Yorkers by charging exorbitant fees for face masks that could save people’s lives," said NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea. "These arrests should serve as a warning: the NYPD is vigilant in investigating those who prey on New Yorkers and attempt to financially benefit during the pandemic.”