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Amazon, Facebook Crack Down on Coronavirus Scams

A screen displays the term COVID-19 during a news conference in Mexico City, Mexico, Feb. 27, 2020.
A screen displays the term COVID-19 during a news conference in Mexico City, Mexico, Feb. 27, 2020.

Two of the world's most popular websites are cracking down on anyone who tries to peddle phony coronavirus cures or gouge customers looking to protect themselves from the virus.
Amazon tells Reuters that it has pulled more than one million products from sale on its website that claim to cure or protect against the coronavirus.

The world’s largest online retailer is also barring merchants from selling such goods as face masks at highly-inflated prices.

One company was using Amazon to sell a pack of 10 face masks that usually goes for $41 for $128 while another priced a $7 pack of respirators at $25.

"There is no place for price gouging on Amazon," a spokeswoman told Reuters, warning sellers that they risk being barred from Amazon if they violate its pricing policies.

Italian authorities say they are launching investigations into wildly inflated prices for online sales of sanitizing gels and face masks.

Earlier this week, Facebook said it will take down any ads that promise coronavirus prevention or cure or that are spreading conspiracy theories about the disease.

"We're taking steps to stop ads for products that refer to the coronavirus and create a sense of urgency, like implying a limited supply or guaranteeing a cure or prevention," the social media site said.

They include ads touting that face masks are guaranteed to prevent the virus and claims that drinking bleach can cure it.

Currently, there is no cure for the coronavirus and a vaccine could be more than a year away.

Doctors say the only way to prevent catching the disease is using common sense — hand-washing, no close contact with those who are sick, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects.

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