North Carolina authorities have reached a settlement with a Charlotte gas station accused of price gouging during a fuel shortage caused by a ransomware attack earlier this year.
On Wednesday, Mansa Travel Center Charlotte LLC (also known as Queen’s Market ) settled a price gouging lawsuit for $20,305 — $5000 of this sum was issued as a civil penalty while the rest is for restitution, attorney’s fees, consumer protection enforcement and investigative costs.
The gas station must also install technology to record the amount of fuel sold and fuel prices.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein sued the Mansa Travel Center in August 2021 after the gas station hiked prices during the Colonial Pipeline shutdown during a ransomware attack in May.
According to the lawsuit, Queen’s Market upped their prices to $3.197 per gallon for regular gas (a 19 percent increase from pre-shutdown prices), $9.99 per gallon for mid-grade (a 278 percent increase), and to $9.99 per gallon for premium (a 256 percent increase) even though the gas station did not incur any actual increases in fuel costs.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency due to the fuel supply shortage. North Carolina price gouging laws forbid businesses from upping the price of goods during a state of emergency.
TikTok user and truck driver Clarissa Rankin drew attention to the issue after filling up on gas in her personal vehicle. Her video garnered nearly 2.5 million views and was named in the criminal complaint.
Customers who purchased gasoline from Queen’s Market between May 11 and 14, 2021, and believe they were charged an excessive price could be eligible for restitution. You can request a claim form by emailing [email protected] or calling the Attorney General’s Office toll-free within NC at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.
“I’m pleased that customers who were forced to pay outrageous prices for gas during the pipeline shutdown will get some relief,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “Businesses cannot take advantage of a state of emergency to price gouge North Carolinians. If they do, I’ll hold them accountable.”