Tennessee AG cracks down on men who hoarded thousands of sanitizer bottles amid shopper scare

As cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer fly off grocery store shelves in a rush of coronavirus panic shopping, two Tennessee men are being ordered to stop hoarding and reselling in-demand products online.

Noah Colvin, of Hixson, Tennessee, took a 1,300-mile road trip in early March across Tennessee and Kentucky, racking up thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer to resell online.

Meanwhile, his brother Matt stayed at home, waiting for pallets of antibacterial wipes and even more sanitizer to be shipped, according to a New York Times article.

The two then sold sanitizer online at a steep markup – $8 to $70 a pop. But Amazon quickly removed their listings amid a larger effort to stop coronavirus-related price gouging.

Now, the brothers reportedly have more than 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer – and two attorneys general who demand they stop buying more.

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On Saturday night, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III announced his office had ordered the Colvins to stop buying and selling while they're investigated for price gouging.

“We will not tolerate price gouging in this time of exceptional need, and we will take aggressive action to stop it,” said Slatery in a press release.

Medical goods acquired by the Colvins were reportedly taken to a nearby church Sunday to be distributed around the community, per WRCB-TV in Tennessee. A portion of the sanitizer will be returned to stores in Kentucky, the station reported.

Tennessee and Kentucky have anti-price-gouging laws to prevent necessities from being sold at a mark-up during states of emergency – a status that both states are under to fight the coronavirus.

An online petition calling on Slatery to prosecute Matt Colvin has thousands of signatures.

“This is a time where we have to focus on helping our neighbors, not profiting from them,” said Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron. “We’re not going to tolerate selfish actions that put the health of Kentuckians at risk, and I’m grateful for Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s partnership in bringing an end to this harmful scheme.”

Matt Colvin defended his practice in the New York Times profile, saying there is "crushing overwhelming demand" for products like sanitizer.

“The Dollar General in the middle of nowhere outside of Lexington, Kentucky, doesn’t have that," he continued.

Harrison County, the site of the first and the most of Kentucky's COVID-19 cases, is a rural area north of Lexington.

After the New York Times article published, Colvin said he was exploring ways to donate the bulk items.

Follow reporter Olivia Krauth at okrauth@courierjournal.com on Twitter at @oliviakrauth.

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This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Coronavirus price-gouging: Men hoarding hand sanitizer urged to stop