Two Queens grocers busted for inflating prices of face masks at their store
Cops arrested Tae Kyong Kim, 49, and Jung Soo Lee, 61, both of Queens, for price gouging and violating city Department of Consumer Affairs codes regarding prices for essential goods and services.
A pair of greedy Queens grocers jacked up prices for surgical masks at their store, taking advantage of customers desperate for protection against the pandemic, prosecutors said Friday.
College Point resident Tae Kyong Kim, 49, and Bayside resident Jung Soo Lee, 61, were charged with price gouging and violating city Department of Consumer Affairs codes regarding prices for essential goods and services during a public crisis.
Undercover officers visiting the Raspberry Farm grocery store on 14th Ave. in Whitestone found surgical masks, which usually just cost $1 apiece, being sold at drastically inflated prices, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said.
“Sadly, the outbreak of the coronavirus has inspired greed and manipulation. We are still in the midst of a crisis and people are still dying every day from COVID-19," Katz said.
“We are actively seeking out individuals and businesses that would take advantage of people’s real fears during this pandemic to line their own pockets," she said.
The cops came into the store at different times on Wednesday and found two KF94 masks being sold for $10, a box of 50 disposable masks, which they bought for $24, being sold for $39 and boxes of 10 KN95 masks, the Chinese version of the N95 masks, being sold for $45 each.
Police also recovered 24 boxes containing 10 KN95 masks, 35 boxes containing 50 disposable face masks, 31 boxes containing 4 disposable masks, 153 single packs of KF94 face masks and 67 dust proof face masks, all being sold at inflated prices.
Both Kim and Lee told cops that they had marked up everything in their store by 50%, authorities said. According to a recently passed city law, stores are not allowed to increase the prices of essential goods by more than 10% “during an imminent threat to public safety.”
The two grocers were given desk appearance tickets and ordered to appear in Queens Criminal Court on Sept. 4.