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Michigan AG Nessel orders Rockford-based companies to ‘cease and desist’ sales of fake COVID-19 protection patch

Price gouging complaints on the rise amid coronavirus outbreak

FILE - In this March 18, 2019, file photo, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel attends an event in Clawson, Mich. Enbridge Inc. said Friday, March 6, 2020, it has hired companies to design and build a disputed oil pipeline tunnel beneath the channel linking Lakes Huron and Michigan, despite pending legal challenges. Nessel is appealing a Michigan Court of Claims ruling in October 2019 that upheld an agreement between Enbridge and former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's administration to drill the tunnel through bedrock beneath the straits. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya File)
FILE - In this March 18, 2019, file photo, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel attends an event in Clawson, Mich. Enbridge Inc. said Friday, March 6, 2020, it has hired companies to design and build a disputed oil pipeline tunnel beneath the channel linking Lakes Huron and Michigan, despite pending legal challenges. Nessel is appealing a Michigan Court of Claims ruling in October 2019 that upheld an agreement between Enbridge and former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's administration to drill the tunnel through bedrock beneath the straits. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel sent a cease and desist letter to two related companies in Rockford for selling phony “Coronavirus Defender Patches” amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

UPDATE: Businesses agree to stop selling fake coronavirus (COVID-19) defense patches

The letters were sent to Frequency Apps Corp. and Biores Technologies, Inc. on Tuesday morning.

The companies falsely claim that the patches will “help aid the immune system to defend itself against exposure to the virus," according to officials. The fake patches also claim to lessen the effects of COVID-19 for those who have contracted it, officials said.

“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.”

According to officials, companies may be violating 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.
  • 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.
  • Causing coercion and duress as the result of the time and nature of a sales presentation.
  • 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.

After receiving the cease and desist letter, the Rockford companies must respond within 10 days and agree not to market or sell the patches to Michigan consumers, and to provide contact information for all previous customers, officials said.

In addition to marketing products that give residents a false sense of security amid the COVID-19 outbreak, companies are also preying on customers’ needs for products by price gouging -- or grossly raising prices on goods.

As of Tuesday Morning, Nessel’s office has received a total of 1,578 complaints of price gouging related to COVID-19, according to officials.

This news follows Michigan Gov. Whitmer’s executive order restricting price gouging amid the COVID-19 outbreak and Nessel’s plans to strictly enforce the order.

Consumers can file a complaint of price gouging online here, or by calling the Consumer Protection tip line at 877-765-8388 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

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