New York orders Craigslist to remove ads for fake COVID-19 treatments

Jon Fingas
Associate Editor
AP Photo/John Minchillo

It's no secret that coronavirus-related scams are flourishing (the FCC put out a guide to avoiding them), and New York is now applying legal pressure to stop them. State Attorney General Letitia James has ordered Craigslist to "immediately remove" ads that either sell fake COVID-19 treatments or engage in price gouging on items like hand sanitizer. James also asked Craigslist to outline all its "proactive efforts" to spot and clamp down on these ads.

On top of this, James has sent letters to GoDaddy and five other internet registrars asking them to halt the registration of domain names for virus-related scams, and to delist those names that are already in use. While this wasn't an order, the Attorney General warned that these sites are likely to be violating "multiple laws" in addition to terms of service.

We've asked Craigslist and GoDaddy for comment.

It won't be surprising if the companies step up their actions in response, if they haven't already. Even if they aren't compelled in terms of public interest, the threats of legal action and negative public perception might tip the balance. Whatever the motivations, the crackdown could prove vital if it saves people from wasting money and exposing themselves to the virus.