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Drivers Warned To Be On The Lookout For Gas Gouging Following Harvey

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York's top prosecutor is on the lookout for gas gouging following Hurricane Harvey.

As WCBS 880's Mike Sugerman reported, drivers have seen higher prices but are divided over whether they're legit.

At a Mobil station in the West Village, drivers were pumping regular gas at $3.75 a gallon. On average in the state of New York, prices are up about 23 cents a gallon.

Experts blame Harvey.

"I'm shocked, frankly," Carol Vapoorian told Sugerman.

She said she believes the owners were gouging the public, raising the prices because they can.

"I'm shocked at how much they have jacked up the price," she said.

However, Ann Justy, who works in risk management, said it's because refineries have shut down, just like the gas executives say.

"It's risk-case assessment in terms of when they're going to be able to have full production back," she said.

State Attorney General Eric Schniederman said he will be on the lookout for gougers. He wants drivers to notify his office if they suspect problems at the pump.

Customers are seeing it in some parts of Texas, where there are stations charging $20 a gallon, Sugerman reported. 

As WCBS 880's Mike Smeltz reported, the attorney general also warned about scam charities. His first piece of advice was to donate to charities that you know -- the big names that have been around for a while.

"Find an organization that has experience and has a record of providing disaster relief," Schneiderman told Smeltz.

If you are considering donating to a charity you don't know a lot about, he suggested asking questions about what your money will be used for.

"Any time you call a charity, if they are not willing to give you specifics about how they spend the contributions, what they do with excess donations, you should just walk away and go to another charity," Schneiderman said.

Lastly, he recommended donating directly to a charity instead of texting your donation, since typically money does not make it to the charity until you pay your phone bill.

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