By Monica Land
JACKSON – Mississippi’s Attorney General Jim Hood said Wednesday evening that two business owners have been arrested for over charging customers during Hurricane Isaac.
The first arrest occurred in Jackson when Rajinder Singh, 50, of Madison was arrested at his place of business, Fuel Time Gas Station, on Bullard Street.
Hood said once the governor issues a disaster declaration with a price gouging prohibition, merchants cannot increase their average profit margin on products until the executive order is rescinded.
Hood said Singh is accused of charging $.17 (seventeen cents) over his usual profit margin.
“The price gouging prohibition is in place in the disaster-designated area to prevent merchants from exploiting a disaster and taking advantage of residents and evacuees during such a time of need and vulnerability,” Hood said.
Singh was booked into the Hinds County Detention Center.
No court date has been set.
A second arrest also came Wednesday evening in Franklin County where Kuldip Singh (no relation to Rajinder Singh) was arrested at his place of business, Roxie Truck Stop, for raising his prices.
Hood said Kuldip Singh, 51, was taken into custody about 6:30 p.m. Singh was booked into the Franklin County Detention Center. No court date has been set for him.
“Mississippi has been through enough emergency situations that businesses should know better by now,” said Hood. “We have investigators out in the impacted areas and we will make more arrests if necessary.”
The Attorney General’s Office has received hundreds of calls this week concerning price gouging primarily of gasoline, but the law applies to other products as well from bottled water to hotel rooms.
As Mississippi continues to face the effects of Hurricane Isaac, Hood said consumers should be on guard against merchants who increase their prices.
The AG has investigators dispatched across the entire emergency impacted area to monitor businesses.