New Jersey, Maryland Hotels, Gas Stations Accused Of Price Gouging Following Severe Weather

Several hotels and gas stations in New Jersey and Maryland have been accused of price gouging after a severe storm on Friday left many with damaged homes and no power.

One man in Vineland, N.J., told FOX29 that a room at Wingate by Wyndam originally priced at $79 per night cost him $179 on Sunday.

Adjusting prices more than 10 percent higher than typical markups within 30 days of an emergency situation constitutes price gouging under New Jersey law, and violators can be fined up to $10,000 with up to double the charge for repeat offenders, the New Jersey Attorney General's Office warned businesses in a press release issued on Monday.

Maryland residents from all over the state made similar complaints of businesses fixing prices after the storm passed through their region to media outlets and the state attorney general's office, Bethesda Patch reported on Monday. A spokesperson from the Maryland Attorney General's Office cited reports of gas prices marked up 25 to 50 cents per gallon.

Maryland, however, does not have specific price gouging laws, so the attorney general's office said it's keeping a record of these examples in case legislation ever comes to the table, according to WTOP. The state's consumer protection division has issued warnings about home repair scammers and fake charity organizations, which can come out of the woodwork during emergencies, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Price gouging reports came rolling in from New Jersey residents when Hurricane Irene hit last September, according to the Associated Press. Customers were calling Allstate Insurance with complaints about companies overcharging them thousands of dollars for pumping water out of their basements. Around the same time, Homeland Security officials also notified the public about potential email scammers using Hurricane Irene and the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 to bait victims with fundraising schemes.