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A Texas man who had $17,000 charged to his credit card by a wholesale electricity company during last week's storms may get his money back -- thanks to GoFundMe.

Over 4 million people were without power and clean water in Texas for 5 days last week.

To compound their troubles, wholesale electricity provider Griddy began emptying customers' bank accounts before they had even received invoices.

63-year-old Army veteran Scott Willoughby, who lives on social security payments, lost his life savings when Griddy charged $16,752 to his credit card for 7 days' worth of service.

"My savings is gone," the Dallas resident told the New York Times. "There's nothing I can do about it, but it's broken me."

A GoFundMe account created by Willoughby raised over $12,000 as of Tuesday.

Willoughby wrote in the summary:

"[My payment] went on my credit card and once paid, will almost wipe out my savings and my brother's came straight out of his bank account causing an overdraft. Any and all help is appreciated. Blessings on all!"

Willoughby never lost power during the winter storm. He and other customers were warned by Griddy to change providers before the storm hit. But most electricity providers in the state weren't taking on new customers.

Other customers discovered that Griddy had raided their bank accounts and left them nearly penniless.

Ty Williams had nearly $17,000 deducted from his bank account by Griddy. His family home never lost power during the storm.

Williams told Fox 4 News he did everything he could to conserve energy for those 7 days. "I unplugged refrigerators, I turned off everything. I turned off all the lights. We literally tried to stay in one room and use our gas heaters."

Still, their bill skyrocketed to nearly $17,000 for 7 days' usage. Griddy told Williams the billing was automated and based on estimated usage. The company said it would check the system for errors and make adjustments.

Chambers County resident Lisa Khoury filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Griddy for "unlawful price gouging" during the winter storm.

Khoury, whose average bill is between $200 and $250, said her bill for Feb. 13 through Feb. 19 came to $9,340.

She said Griddy began making withdrawals from her bank account daily.

Khoury said she was only without power for one day and was careful to limit usage out of fear of a high bill.

Some Griddy customers were charged as high as $400 per kilowatt-hour. For those customers, Griddy offered to set up payment arrangements.
 

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Shark Tank star Daymond John is accused of trying to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic by hiking the market price of face masks.

Hiking the price of essential products that are in short supply is known as price gouging. It is illegal and punishable by prison time and a hefty fine.

According to the Miami Herald, John tried to hawk N95 face masks for $7 million.

John, CEO of the Shark Group, offered to sell the masks at $7 each - more than three times the market rate per mask.

"This was not somebody off the street, this was Daymond John," said Jared Moskowitz, director of the state Department of Emergency Management.

"He came to me and said, 'I've been in the clothing business. I have connections with factories in China,'" Moskowitz told the newspaper.

Desperate to get the supplies, the state agreed to pay John $7 million for 1 million face masks, the Miami herald reported.

The state signed the purchase order on March 25 with the law firm, Foley & Lardner handling the transaction, according to the paper.

By mid-April, the multi-million-dollar deal fell through, as John was unable to deliver the masks.

"Many people were duped," Moskowitz said.

Shark Group's deal is among many fraudulent deals being investigated by the 3M company for price gouging, the Herald reported.

A rep for Shark Group did not respond to the newspaper's request for comment.

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The government stepped in after two Tennessee brothers were accused of attempting to sell 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer for $70 each during the coronavirus outbreak.

Matt and Noah Colvin thought they would make a killing when they attempted to sell 17,000 bottles for $70 each on Amazon.com. But Amazon blocked the sale, and the brothers were stuck with 17,000 bottles that they couldn't unload.

The Colvin brothers bragged that they were making "crazy money" online. They told reporters they drove 1,000 miles all over Kentucky and Tennessee buying bottles of hand sanitizer and other anti-viral products to take advantage of the pandemic.

The government asses stiff fines and jail time to lawbreakers who enrich themselves through price gouging during shortages.

After the government stepped in and opened an investigation into price gouging, the brothers quickly donated the 17,000 bottles.

CrimeOnline.com went to the brothers' storage unit and observed the Tennessee state's attorney's office carting off the bottles and supplies. The AG's office made multiple trips to the storage unit to haul most of the bottles off.

According to NBC3, the brothers donated the remaining bottles to a local church.

Samantha Fisher of the Tennessee Attorney General's office said the brothers still face a hefty fine for price gouging. The fine might wipe out their "crazy" earnings.

gas prices in Atlanta

Last week, I was filling up my car at a RaceTrac gas station in Buckhead when I noticed a local TV news crew interviewing a customer at the next pump. At the time I had no clue that Atlanta was in the midst of a gas shortage. I didn't notice any long lines or fistfights at the pumps that day. Well, that might change this week as local gas stations run out of gas.

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