Coronavirus: Who is profiting in Italy?

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Source : Gulf News

Swindlers have emerged from the shadows ready to sell cure-alls to the unsuspecting

Milan: From jacking-up the prices of disinfectant gel to scammers posing as Red Cross volunteers, Italy’s battle to contain its coronavirus outbreak has been a gift to grifters of various stripes.

After a spike in confirmed cases in recent days, Italy’s number of infections now stands at 283, by far the largest in Europe.

Most of them are in the northern region of Lombardy, which contains the country’s economic capital, Milan.

Worried residents in the north have been scrambling to get hold of face masks and disinfectant gels, leading to shortages in many pharmacies and supermarkets.

The less scrupulous have been quick to spy an opportunity to profit.

On Tuesday morning one vendor on Ebay was asking for no less than 300 euros (Dh1,198) for a litre of disinfectant solution.

The equivalent product for babies was by comparison a bargain at a mere 240 euros.

The phenomenon has prompted a wave of jokes and memes on social media.

“Will exchange five litres of Amuchina (antibacterial gel) in return for an Audi RS 5 car from 2019,” runs one, adding: “If it’s a 2016 model, throw in 65,000 euros.”

Amuchina has seen a whopping 650 per cent price rise from three euros to 22.50 for an 80ml bottle, while Codacons says masks are now going for 1.80 euros – as opposed to just 10 cents before the onset of consumer panic.

The association says one lot of five masks fitted with valves were marketed on Amazon as “perfect for coronavirus” for 189 euros.

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