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THOMAS FIRE | Price gouging after declared emergencies is unlawful

With unsafe fires still burning around Los Angeles, state and local law enforcement officials are reminding residents to be on the lookout for instances of price gouging.

"Members of the public should be on the lookout for excessive price increases to essential consumer goods and services during this time of emergency when thousands of Southern California residents have been either temporarily or permanently displaced from their homes by the wildfires", said Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey.

Totten warned Ventura County residents today to beware of unscrupulous individuals who attempt to profit from the recent fires which have devastated our community by engaging in illegal price gouging or charitable solicitation fraud.

Officials also said that for a period of 180 days after the declaration, it is also unlawful for a contractor to sell or offer to sell any fix or reconstruction services or emergency clean-up services for more than 10 percent higher than they charged immediately prior to the declaration, although there are exceptions.

"Consumers should be very wary of price spikes for hotel rooms, gasoline and emergency items like generators", said Feuer. This practice is called price gouging.

District Attorney Gregory Totten is also warning people to be aware of charities that claim to help Thomas Fire victims.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for L.A. County Tuesday, while L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti did the same for the city Wednesday. The state law applies to food, items use for emergency clean-up, emergency supplies, and medical supplies.

Violators of the price gouging statute are subject to criminal prosecution that can result in a one-year imprisonment in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. The office employs approximately 280 employees including attorneys, investigators, victim advocates, and other professional support staff who strive to seek justice, ensure public safety, and protect the rights of crime victims.



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