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News 8 investigates price gouging in San Diego during the coronavirus pandemic

Report suspected price gouging to San Diego's District Protection Unit.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — One of the worst things people can do in a time of crisis, like the coronavirus pandemic, is price gouging, and yet, News 8 has received multiple reports from viewers of price gougers.

Price gouging is the practice of raising the price of something that’s in demand to an unreasonable level. There are laws in the state of California against this practice. 

“We take very seriously when there are some greedy folks out there, unfortunately. It is not the majority, but we don’t want people taking advantage of our consumers,” San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan told News 8.

Stephan said her office is aware of what’s going on and has a special team on in full force to address it.

“The law is very clear, dealing with necessary items, food, water, diapers, face masks and the antiseptic you can us. All those things are protected,” she said.

She and the City Attorney, Mara Elliot, both told News 8, the law is very clear.

“In the state of California once there’s a state of emergency declared, and the governor did enact an emergency situation a couple of weeks ago, they can’t increase prices by more than 10% after that deflation of emergency,” Elliot said.

They too, have been sending out investigators to check on stores accused of price gauging as shoppers desperately search for supplies.

Prosecutors said, when confronted, many times a business immediately change their practices but it takes people reporting it, for them to know it is happening.

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California is one of 34 states that have at least some sort of law against price gouging according to the website FindLaw.

To report suspected price gouging to the District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit at (619) 531-3507 or to the California Attorney General’s Office.

News 8’s Monique Griego investigates.

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