Action 9

‘It’s a sin’: Scammers cash in on COVID-19 supply shortages

As COVID-19 infection rates rise again and PPE supplies are hard to find, expect scammers to cash in.

Empty shelves are back where customers had hoped to find toilet paper and cleaning supplies.

“This morning I was at the store and the shelves were virtually bare again, almost no cleaning supplies,” Linda Colella said.

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Colella searched online for Lysol wipes and found a website she thought was Lysol corporate. She ordered a $50 supply and paid with a credit card.

“I never got a confirmation email that should have sent up a red flag,” Colella said.

Two months later, there was still no delivery of the supplies.

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She discovered the website had no connection to Lysol. Colella says its only response was an email it claims verified shipment.

She’s been trying to get her credit card company to erase the charge.

“You’re told there’s no supervisor you can speak to. I found that more frustrating than the $50,” Colella said.

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So many consumers have been tricked by fake Lysol and Clorox websites that the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit to shut down two dozen sites.

Just last month, a federal court issued a restraining order against those counterfeit websites selling Covid cleaning supplies that were never delivered.

READ: Consumers complain of internet struggles when managing work and school from home

The sites had names like and

Consumer experts warn the scammers will return as Covid-19 cases climb.

“They know people are fearful. They know they are scrambling again for supplies,” said BBB President Holly Salmons.

READ: CDC panel: Health care workers, nursing home residents should get vaccine first

Stick with big box retailers and shippers you trust, since you could be burned several ways.

“You may be at risk for more than the money you sent them. Your credit card could be compromised. You could be signed up for automatic shipping,” Salmons said.

When Action 9 checked the website that took Colella’s money, a warning about a phishing site popped up.

READ: Florida surpasses 1 million COVID-19 cases, another 82 virus-related deaths reported

Action 9 is contacting Colella’s credit card company about disputing the scam charge.

“It’s a sin. It really is,” Colella said.

In this scam it was Lysol wipes, but the same tactics have been used selling hand sanitizers and faces masks.

Verify any website first, because in these scams, credit card refunds have been more difficult.

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich,

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.