In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, New Yorkers have stepped forward to offer each other a hand — but law enforcement officials warn that some of those hands might be reaching into your pocket.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is cracking down on opportunists looking to make a quick buck off of people trying to help storm victims.
A source familiar with the investigation confirmed to Metro that the attorney general has subpoenaed Craigslist in the hunt for people trying to peddle necessities like generators and fuel at inflated prices. In ads still posted on the site Thursday, sellers were asking for anywhere between $10 to $100 per gallon of gas. Another post offered a plastic gas can "with or without gas" for $150.
Hundreds of New Yorkers have complained about vendors jacking up prices for essentials like food, water and hotel rooms.
Schneiderman cited the state's price gouging law, which prohibits merchants from charging an "unconscionably excessive price" during an "abnormal disruption of the market."
"Our office has zero tolerance for price gouging," Schneiderman said. "We are actively investigating hundreds of complaints we've received from consumers of businesses preying on victims of Hurricane Sandy, and will do everything we can to stop unscrupulous individuals from taking advantage of New Yorkers trying to rebuild their lives."
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes also weighed in on the disturbing trend today, saying a special grand jury will be investigating cases of price gougers and scam artists accused of taking advantage of storm victims.
"The sad truth about a tragedy is that while it brings out the very best in people, it can also bring out the worst," Hynes said. "To raise the price of a hotel as people seek emergency shelter is just unconscionable."