LANSING – Attorney General Dana Nessel issued an urgent consumer alert today to notify Michiganders of another online retailer that is taking advantage of consumers looking to buy products like hand sanitizer and face masks during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.
Nessel’s office recently received a complaint from a concerned Michigan consumer about a website called OkHomeOnline selling face masks, alcohol-based cleaning wipes, hand sanitizer, toilet paper and other products in high demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The consumer reported being charged for a purchase, but never received the order. Later attempts to check the order status were unsuccessful when the website could no longer be accessed.
The Attorney General’s office found that multiple complaints were available online with consumers going through the exact same situation as the Michigan resident. They placed the order only to find that the website disappeared. Furthermore, the phone numbers and addresses listed for the “company” appear to be stolen from other businesses that do not make or sell coronavirus-related products.
“Consumers should always be careful when shopping online, but being cautious is especially important in a time like this when public anxiety is high and scammers are looking to profit off fear,” Nessel said. “Researching the product and the seller before you make a purchase is never a bad idea, and it can help shoppers from falling victim to these predatory practices.”
This website is not the first online COVID-19 scam the Attorney General’s office has encountered. In mid-April the office announced it was issuing court-authorized subpoenas in its investigation into a Muskegon County business, EM General, for similar business practices of failing to provide consumers with their purchased products. That investigation is still underway.
As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, it’s likely consumers will continue to seek products through digital retailers, which highlights the importance of shoppers being aware of potential scams.
Before ordering from a new or unfamiliar online store, consumers should consider doing the following:
- See if the company has reviews online. Search for the company in a search engine with terms like “review,” “complaints” or “scam.”
- Pay by credit card. If there are any issues with the purchase, consumers may be able to dispute the purchase with the credit card company and may have protections available under federal law.
- Review AG Nessel’s Online Shopping Tips consumer alert and more alerts under the Shopping for Products and Services category.
Additional warnings on how to avoid purchasing non-existent personal protective equipment (PPE) and other COVID-19-related products are available from the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Federal Trade Commission.
Consumers can file a complaint online or by calling the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection tip line, 877-765-8388. Hours of operation are between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.