State AG: Hurricane Harvey scams could reach MI

Posted September 01, 2017

A hotel reportedly charged guests more than twice the normal rate.

On Friday, a Twitter user shared a picture of cases of bottled water being sold at a Best Buy in Houston.

Victims of Hurricane Harvey, which has swept through Texas causing severe flooding and damage, have reported that some stores have jacked up the prices of essential items.

The attorney general office's hotline, at (800) 252-8011, and the agency's website have already received more than 350 complaints about price gouging, reports Austin television station KXAN.

Attorney General Ken Paxton told CNBC's Closing Bell that "there are significant penalties if you price gouge in a crisis like this". The AG's office learned about the Houston convenience store on Monday afternoon and confirmed the price of fuel being offered was indeed a sky-high $20 per gallon. And the state has the authority to prosecute any business engaging in price gouging after a disaster is declared by the governor.

'Not as an excuse but as an explanation, we don't typically sell cases of water.

"These are things you can't do in Texas", Paxton said in the interview.

Customers who become aware of direct evidence concerning price fixing or gouging is asked to contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division.

The death toll from the hurricane has climbed to the double digits, as the devastating storm made landfall Wednesday morning in Louisiana. The photos went viral as an example of predatory price-gouging in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. It can result in a $20,000 fine per occurrence, and up to $250,000 if the victim is over the age of 65.

Lovvorn said she can not give the names of the businesses cited in the complaints.

But Best Buy was recently singled out on social media when a tweet showed that individual bottles were being sold at a Houston location for $29 while cases of water were $42.