ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia businessman is accused of hoarding face masks as the COVID-19 pandemic spread in the U.S. and of price-gouging by selling them for about double what he paid, U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said Thursday.
Milton Ayimadu, 22, of Stockbridge, was arraigned Thursday on the two charges, both of them violations of the Defense Production Act of 1950, Pak said in a news release.
Ayimadu did not immediately respond to an email sent Friday evening through his website, BabyPuuPu.com, which sells baby clothing, accessories and toys.
President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act on March 18 to try to overcome shortages in masks, ventilators and other supplies. A week later, the U.S. health secretary listed face masks among scarce materials under the law.
Ayimadu, also known as Don Milton, is accused of buying more than 200,000 masks from a foreign country at $2.50 each in early March, and of selling them through the website for about $5 each from then until May.
“Ayimadu allegedly saw the unprecedented COVID-19 global pandemic as an opportunity to make a profit,” Pak said. “Desperate to find personal protective equipment during the pandemic, thousands of customers unfortunately paid his inflated prices.”
During the same period, according to the news release, “manufacturers of authentic N95 masks continued selling face masks for the pre-pandemic price of under $2.00 per mask.”
Ayimadu had more than 22,000 financial transactions during the two months he sold face masks, the statement said. It did not say how many involved face masks.
The news release did not mention Ayimadu’s plea, and his case was not available Thursday in online court records. He was charged in a criminal information, the news release said.