Thursday, April 2, 2020

Nessel orders businesses to halt the sale of fake COVID-19 protection patch

March 25, 2020
<p>Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel speaks during a press conference at the G. Mennen Williams Building in Lansing on Feb. 21, 2019.</p>

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel speaks during a press conference at the G. Mennen Williams Building in Lansing on Feb. 21, 2019.

Photo by Anntaninna Biondo | The State News

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel sent a letter to Frequency Apps Corporation and Biores Technologies Inc. regarding the sale of a "Coronavirus Defender Patch," which the AG's office said is a false claim, according to a statement from the office.

The letter orders the companies to cease sales due to unlawful business practice.

The companies claim the patch will “help aid the immune system to defend itself against exposure to the virus,” and “can help lessen the effect of the virus if you already have the COVID-19 virus," according to the statement.

The letter from Nessel said the companies appear to be "attempting to profit from the public’s fear surrounding the
Coronavirus."

The patch was originally priced at $49.99, according to the statement. Though, the companies said consumers could receive a 30-day supply of the patch for free if they buy a 45-day supply of another patch the companies sell.

Currently, there are no treatments to prevent or treat COVID-19.

The letter said the Attorney General's Office is looking to file a civil lawsuit or perform a formal investigation.

The companies have 10 days to reply to the letter with assurances that sales have stopped. They also must provide the contact information of Michigan consumers who have purchased the patch.

“Providing consumers with a false sense of security that these patches could somehow protect them from this virus is simply wrong,” Nessel said. “I will not tolerate deceptive and misleading business practices at any time, but especially not during this time of uncertainty surrounding Michigan’s battle with COVID-19.”

The COVID-19 crisis continues to rapidly change. As of March 24, confirmed cases total at 1,791 with 24 deaths, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services' Coronavirus webpage.

Price gouging complaints related to COVID-19 total 1,578 as of 7 a.m. March 24, according to the statement.

Companies may be in violation of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act if they are:

  • "Representing that goods or services have sponsorship, approval, characteristics, ingredients, uses, benefits or quantities that they do not have, or that a person has sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation or connection that he or she does not have," according to the statement.
  • "Failing to reveal a material fact, the omission of which tends to mislead or deceive the consumer, and which fact could not reasonably be known by the consumer," the statement said.
  • "Causing coercion and duress as the result of the time and nature of a sales presentation," according to the press release.
  • "Making a representation of fact or statement of fact material to the transaction such that a person reasonably believes the represented or suggested state of affairs to be other than it actually is," the statement said.

Michigan consumers can report price gouging to the Attorney General's Office via online form or by phone at 877-765-8388, according to the statement. The tip line operates between 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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