NJ Attorney General Cracks Down On Price Gouging [AUDIO]
There is almost universal agreement that it's not a matter of "if" another big storm is going to hammer New Jersey, it's a matter of "when."
Unfortunately whenever a huge weather event slams the state and knocks out power for thousands there is no shortage of unscrupulous business owners who will try to profit from it.
"It makes you sick," says State Attorney General Jeff Chiesa. "What happens is they jack their prices up for no other reason than we have a demand because people don't have places to live or they want to run their generator or they want to take their family somewhere in their car. The important part about the price gouging is to make the penalty so significant that if the thought enters your mind it leaves your mind quickly."
After Superstorm Sandy, 24 New Jersey businesses were charged with price gouging, some of them with multiple violations. In the two cases that have been resolved so far, two gas stations are being forced to pay a combined total of roughly $46,000 in fines.
Chiesa says that's far, far more than they made by gouging their customers.
"If you're going to make an extra few hundred bucks by raising your gas prices or you want to make an extra few hundred bucks on a hotel room or two then you've got to pay thousands of dollars in fines," explains Chiesa. "Unfortunately you know there's going to be a certain group of people that are going to try to profit from it (a disaster)."
Because you know some people will try to profit from the misery of others, Chiesa says plans to battle price gouging were in place even before Sandy hit the state.