Brothers Trying to Profit Off Coronavirus Stuck With 17,000 Bottles of Hand Sanitizer

March 15, 2020 Updated: March 15, 2020
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Two brothers said they purchased thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer in an attempt to re-sell them for a higher profit amid the coronavirus outbreak, but they have since been banned from several prominent online platforms and are left with thousands of bottles with no place to offload them.

According to an interview with The New York Times, Matt and Noah Colvin drove around Kentucky and Tennessee to scoop up hand sanitizers and antibacterial wipes in U-Haul truck after the first U.S. coronavirus death was reported on March 1.

They sold about 300 bottles of hand sanitizer for between $8 and $70 each, they told The NY Times.

“It was crazy money,” Matt Colvin was quoted as saying by the news outlet. They obtained them from Dollar Tree, a Walmart, Staples, and Home Depot.

However, their scheme was quickly doused by Amazon and eBay, which both pulled down their items saying they were price gouging consumers.

“Price gouging is a clear violation of our policies, unethical, and in some areas, illegal,” Amazon said in a statement about the practice. “In addition to terminating these third party accounts, we welcome the opportunity to work directly with states attorneys general to prosecute bad actors.”

Epoch Times Photo
A South Korean army soldier wearing a protective suit sprays disinfectant as a precaution against the new coronavirus at a private academy in Daegu, South Korea, on March 15, 2020. (Kim Hyun-tae/Yonhap via AP)

Now, the brothers have about 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer in their garage.

“It’s been a huge amount of whiplash,” Matt Colvin told the NY Times. “From being in a situation where what I’ve got coming and going could potentially put my family in a really good place financially to ‘What the heck am I going to do with all of this?’”

Mikeala Kozlowski, a nurse in Dudley, Massachusetts, appeared to criticize the brothers and other hoarders after she couldn’t find sanitizing products in stores.

“You’re being selfish, hoarding resources for your own personal gain,” she said of online sellers, according to the paper.

The NY Times also interviewed another online seller named Eric, who wouldn’t give his last name, saying that he obtained about 10,000 masks at stores and sold them for as much as five times the in-store retail price.

“Even at $125 a box, they were selling almost instantly,” he said, adding that they sold for about $20 per package. “It was mind-blowing as far as what you could charge.” Eric said he made between $35,000 and $40,000 in profit.

Around the United States, it appears that hand sanitizer, cleaning products, toilet paper, and bottled water are the most sought-after items in supermarkets.

Data from Johns Hopkins University says that around 3,000 patients of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, have been confirmed in the country.