AFP crack down: Massive penalties for rapid antigen test price gouging

Jan 21, 2022
Australian Federal Police crack down on rapid antigen test price gouging. Source: Getty Images.

Retailers who increase the prices of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) could now face considerable prison time and substantial fines as shortages continue nationwide.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has announced investigations into RATs price gouging and is warning individuals and businesses they face five years’ imprisonment for re-selling COVID-19 tests for more than 20 per cent of the original retail purchase price.

Two investigations have begun in Queensland and New South Wales under Taskforce LOTUS after referrals from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Under the legislation, the AFP has the power to investigate claims of RAT price gouging when a retailer or individual buys RATs from another retailer and sells those RATs with a mark-up of more than 20 per cent.

“For example, if a tobacconist buys RATs from a chemist and then sells those RATs for more than 20 per cent of what they were purchased for, that tobacconist faces criminal charges under the law,” an AFP statement said.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Crime Command Nigel Ryan said there would be “zero tolerance” for those who are profiteering at the expense of the Australian public.

“The AFP will use its full powers to crack down on RAT price gouging. Not only is price gouging of RATs unethical but it is illegal, and the AFP will use its significant resources to ensure it protects the public from the unlawful greed of others,” he said.

“Commonwealth and state agencies are working together on this issue, and under Taskforce LOTUS, the AFP makes no apologies for upholding the law to help keep Australians safe.

“Those who breach the law face penalties of up to 5 years’ jail or a $66,000 fine. My message is clear. Do not risk jail time or a significant fine for a few extra dollars.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chair Rod Simms recently voiced concerns about the pricing of rapid antigen tests.

“At the extreme end, we have received reports or seen media coverage of tests costing up to $500 for two tests through online marketplaces, and over $70 per test through convenience stores, service stations and independent supermarkets, which is clearly outrageous,” he said.

“There are several businesses that have repeatedly come to our notice thanks to the information provided by the public. We are asking those businesses to urgently explain the prices they are charging.”

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