RALEIGH, NC – More than 600 consumers have filed complaints online or via a toll-free hotline to report potential gas price gouging to North Carolina’s Consumer Protection Division since Friday, according to WFMY-TV.
North Carolina’s law against price gouging is currently in effect due to limited supplies of gasoline caused by the leak in a pipeline that carries gas from the Gulf Coast to North Carolina and other southeastern states.
Price gouging—or charging too much in times of crisis—is against North Carolina law when a disaster, emergency, or unexpected disruption of critical goods and services is declared by the governor. Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency last week.
NC Attorney General spokeswoman Noelle Talley says investigators are checking reports of gas being sold at $5.89 a gallon and another offered at more than $4 a gallon.
Talley says a station north of Winston-Salem advertised a price of $9.99 a gallon, but that was after it had run out of gas.
A CBS North Carolina viewer reported that a Durham gas station received a delivery of gas and that prices at the station immediately jumped from $2.19 a gallon to $2.79 per gallon late Monday afternoon.
Two subpoenas have been sent to gas businesses in the Greensboro area after complaints, WFMY reported.
Price gougers can face fines of up to $5,000 for each violation under North Carolina law. According to the state Constitution, all fines go to support the public schools.
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper encouraged residents to report possible price gouging online or by phone at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.
“Consumers are our eyes and ears on the ground and we want to know if you spot potential gas price gouging,” Cooper said.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report