Federal prosecutors in Chicago have charged the owner of a Skokie medical supplies company with price gouging customers seeking to purchase N-95 masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Krikor Topouzian, 60, allegedly sold the masks at more than three times what he purchased them, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago.
In March and April, he allegedly bought 79,160 respirator masks for an average price of approximately $5.08 per mask, prosecutors said.
Topouzian later sold the masks to customers for prices as high as $19.95 per mask, a markup of 185% to 367% per mask, prosecutors said. He allegedly sold the masks at a markup despite repeated warnings from law enforcement about the illegal nature of his conduct.
Topouzian, of Winnetka, faces one count of violating the Defense Production Act of 1950, a charge punishable up to one year in prison.
“Amassing and reselling personal protective equipment at large markups during a global health crisis is not only greedy, it’s illegal under the Defense Production Act,” U.S. Attorney John Lausch, Jr., said in a statement.