104 price gouging complaints in the Triad amid pipeline shutdown

North Carolina

(WGHP) — Held hostage at the pump. The fallout from a cyberattack has the state’s attorney general cracking down on price gouging.

There are registered complaints of a station selling gas for $3.99 a gallon — the highest on the list of complaints in our area. Under Gov. Roy Cooper’s state of emergency, it’s illegal.

Attorney General Josh Stein said since that state of emergency was declared Tuesday, there have been 400 reports of price gouging across the state, with about 104 are from the Triad.

“It prohibits sellers from charging an unreasonably excessive price. We do not want prices to increase so that folks can make a quick buck at our expense at our desperation,” Stein said.

For many people who need to travel for work, getting gas is the only way they survive.

Like Antonio Ontiveros, who works on cars for a living and is traveling to Raleigh to pick up another vehicle.

“We need the gas so we have to pay whatever it is to go to work,” Ontiveros said.

He tells me he has only seen a 10-15 cent increase at this gas station since the Colonial Pipeline hack.

That’s why he got a canister in addition to filling up his car.

He says although the AG is cracking down on price gouging at the pump, it may not make a difference.

“As long as the gas station has fuel, they’re going to keep increasing the prices,” Ontiveros said.

But a large number of people have flooded in with reports to the AG’s office in just two days.

“We’ve gotten nearly 400 complaints so far. We will investigate each one. If the price was increased because their cost of supply has increased, then that’s legitimate,” Stein said.

People at pumps who spoke to FOX8 reporters said they would report it if they saw it.

“It’s not right because we all got to live. We all got to make a way somehow,” said Brenda Odom, who was fueling up for work at a High Point gas station.

“The people that’s making all the money off the gas, they gouging us as the little man so if they put a stop to it, that will kind of bring everything back into perspective where we can all deal with it.”

“For now, the attorney general is urging people not to panic buy,” said James Hamilton, who was fueling up in Davidson County.

“Panic buying can lead to these shortages that we’re seeing. If you don’t need to drive, take a day or two off and I think in coming days, this will all resolve itself,” Stein said.

Those who price gouge could face up to a $5,000 fine if found guilty.

While Stein’s office is taking the matter seriously, he said a more serious matter is the hacking itself.

“The real culprits here are the cybercriminals who are not only holding us, Colonial Pipeline hostage, they’re holding all of us hostage,” Stein said.

If you think a seller is price gouging you can report it here.

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