April 18, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
Three men were arrested Friday for trying to sell medical face masks – for 10 times their regular price – to an undercover cop in Corona, police said.
Queens residents Yuriy Borukhov, 33, Maisey Khovasov, 23, and Michael Borukhov, 23, were nabbed by police at around 10:30 a.m. inside the BP gas station at 99-49 Horace Harding Expy., according to the NYPD.
The men were trying to sell 1,000, R95 face masks made by 3M – that can be used as a preventative measure against spreading COVID-19 – to an undercover detective for $10,000, police said.
The suspects were arrested in a sting operation after police responded to an online ad where the men were allegedly peddling the masks for $10 each, according to the Queens District Attorney’s office.
Officers from NYPD Financial Crimes Task Force engaged in a series of texts over two weeks, before a meet up was set up with the suspects on Friday at the gas station.
An undercover agent arrived at the BP gas station and met the suspects shortly after 10 a.m.
The men asked the undercover cop if he was there to buy masks, according to police. When the agent confirmed that he was the suspects led him to a Chrysler automobile.
Michael Borokhov allegedly opened the car’s trunk and produced two boxes containing the R95 face masks.
The undercover detective then gave the three men $10,000 cash. The suspects accepted the cash and were then arrested for price gouging.
Additional masks were recovered from the vehicle, according to police.
The masks normally sell for up to $1 each.
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, in a statement, said that the men were trying to profit from a public health crisis.
“This is unconscionable and will not stand in Queens County,” she said.
“Sadly, these three men allegedly thought about pocketing a profit as a result of the coronavirus outbreak by price gouging,” she said.
The suspects have been ordered to appear in court on Aug. 15 where they will be formally charged with price gouging.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said that exploiting people’s need to protect themselves for personal gain will not be tolerated.
“It is unconscionable in an ongoing pandemic, when everyone from healthcare providers to police officers to everyday New Yorkers needs this lifesaving equipment,” he said.
Earlier this month, Burns Pharmacy in Forest Hills was fined $12,000 for hiking prices for hand sanitizer and face masks.
The NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection is encouraging consumers to file a complaint if they think they have been overcharged. The department is recommending consumers go to nyc.gov/dcwp or contact 311 and say “overcharge.”