FL: Gouging Investigations

With gas priced at $4.19 a gallon Tuesday afternoon, pumps at the BP gas station at Pace Boulevard and Garden Street went largely unused.

The Garden Street BP is among 14 Escambia and four Santa Rosa gas stations under investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office after it received 26 complaints of alleged price gouging at area gas stations. The state did not provide exact locations for all stations being investigated due to incomplete information provided in the complaints.

Statewide, more than 5,500 complaints were filed as of Tuesday afternoon. Of those, 1,841 complaints are being investigated by the state’s Economic Crimes Division.

Consumers filed complaints with the Attorney General’s Office by calling a statewide hot line; however, many of the complaints contained incomplete information about the location of the suspected gouging or the price paid for the fuel.

Attorney General’s Office spokeswoman Sandi Copes said it is illegal after declaration of a state emergency to charge excessive prices for essential items like gasoline unless the increase is attributable to additional costs for supplying the items. But she said there is no specific increase that determines if a gas station is price gouging.

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