On Thursday, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein sued a gas station for price gouging during a fuel shortage caused by a ransomware attack earlier this year.
Stein announced the suit against Mansa Travel Center Charlotte LLC (also known as Queen’s Market) located in Charlotte for allegedly violating North Carolina’s price gouging law when the Colonial Pipeline was shut down due to a ransomware attack in May.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency due to fuel shortages caused by the pipeline’s operational disruption.
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 midgrade (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.
The suit seeks restitution for customers in addition to legal fees and civil penalties.
“This gas station wildly overpriced their gas prices to take advantage of the pipeline shutdown and people’s desperation to get gas,” said Stein. “It’s against the law for businesses to take advantage of a state of emergency to exploit their customers. I’ll do everything in my power to hold price gougers accountable.”
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.