In times of crisis, there are always the unscrupulous ones that take advantage of the grim situation and selfishly profit from supplies that they very well know are in high demand.
Aside from panic-buying rice, toilet paper and condoms (for some reason), folks are desperately looking to stock up on face masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus outbreak. Alas, this has led to some pretty unsavoury endeavours, like buying boxes of respirators and face masks in bulk, leaving next to none for others in need.
And yes, people can stoop even lower than that. Armed with boxes of face masks, scalpers are selling them off at higher prices than usual to make a killing. One man was allegedly doing so at the carpark of Jurong West 505 Market and Food Centre yesterday (Feb 9), claimed Facebook user Alexie Tan.
Seen and shared by thousands of netizens by now, Alexie contended that she saw a masked man peddling face masks right out of the boot of his car. Apparently, he had been selling (illegally, if true) the masks at a dollar each, or a pricey $40 per carton.
Pictures uploaded by Alexie showed that he had over two big boxes full of the face mask cartons. A sign was stuck on a box, though we can’t make out exactly what it says.
“Please be more considerate and give those people who really need it a chance to purchase (a) mask,” asserted Alexie. “For instance, people working in the front line.”
It should go without saying that you shouldn’t be dealing with such pedlars, whether it be on online marketplaces like Carousell or in real life.
While the Ministry of Health has advised that masks should only be worn by those who are unwell, demand for them has spiked, nonetheless. The panic-driven scramble for protection has resulted in product scarcity from hoarding, price gouging, transactional scams, and even fake masks that don’t even protect its users.
Authorities have warned Singaporeans to stay cautious against such unethical schemes. Famously, Nee Soon GRC Member of Parliament Louis Ng spoke against a shop that had been selling a box of N95 respirators for $138.
“Retailers profiteering from the situation will be taken to task,” he warned. “This is a time when we all need to come together and help each other rather than try to take advantage of the situation and profit from it.”
Instead of ripping people off, perhaps those with more than enough face masks could do some good, like this couple who gave out 17,000 of them for free at Punggol MRT.