RICHMOND, Va. — A Richmond gas station was charging $6.99 per gallon of gasoline Tuesday afternoon hours after Governor Northam declared a state of emergency following the Colonial Pipeline ransomware cyber attack that led to gasoline shortages in the state.
"It was a lot of people there, no one looked at the price," said Lether Kerney.
Kerney took a hit to the wallet when she unassumingly pulled up to the Richmond BP Gas station on Williamsburg Rd. Tuesday.
"I had half a tank of gas, so when it got to $25 I started looking to see what was going on. And after I got to $30, I was like, 'oh my God! I spent $35.45 to fill up my tank. Six gallons of gas for $35. That's absolutely ridiculous."
Kerney said when she was filling up, she was unaware the gas station was charging $5.99 per gallon and spent double what she usually would.
"Usually, it's under $3.00," said Kerney. "This BP service station has always been the cheapest, and I didn’t even look at the price before I started pumping."
Neighbor, Cha Cha, lives just blocks away from the station and said she watched as the price climbed higher and higher after she filled up her tank for $2.99.
"Came home, got the gas cans, literally in that span of time and I live two blocks from here, and it was $4.99," said Cha Cha. "So then I drove up the road to get gas at a $2.99 gas station, came back through here, it was $5.99. And now it’s $6.59."
Wow! Gas prices at this BP gas station off Williamsburg Rd in Richmond now up to $6.99. When we arrived about 20 minutes ago it was at $5.99.— Shannon Lilly CBS 6 (@ShannonLillyTV) May 11, 2021
A woman who lives in this area says when she filled up two hours ago it was at $2.99. @CBS6 pic.twitter.com/LBbtAuDGRi
Within a few minutes, that $6.59 was up to $6.99.
"You can’t do that to people," said Cha Cha.
WTVR went into the store Tuesday afternoon and spoke with a store official about the high prices. That official said they had run completely out of gas. Within minutes, the sign was turned off.
In a statement, Attorney General Mark Herring warned the cyberattack could not only create disruptions in the gasoline supply across the Commonwealth but said that "bad actors could take advantage of this just to line their own pockets."
In that statement, Herring added that "Virginians should not have to worry about paying exorbitant prices for gas and other necessary goods during this time."
Now that @GovernorVA has declared a state of emergency for the pipeline ransomware attack, price gouging protections are in effect, including for gasoline and fuel. Report suspected price gouging to my Consumer Protection Section at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 552-9963.— Mark Herring (@MarkHerringVA) May 12, 2021
Michael Wallace, Spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said anyone who felt they’d been gouged by gas prices should file a complaint with them here.
"The office will conduct an investigation and then turn those results over to The Office of the Attorney General," said Wallace.
Wallace said gouging happens when a supplier charges unconscionable prices on necessary goods during a state of emergency. He said he had inquired internally with the VDACS Office of Weights and Measures to look into the BP gas station on Williamsburg Road.
The investigation would look into the price the gas station had to pay for the fuel as well as the price for gas in the immediate area, according to Wallace, to determine whether it is gouging.
In the meantime, AAA spokesperson Morgan Dean said now was not the time to rush out and fill up your tank.
"The big concern is that people are going to start panic buying because we're talking about this," said Dean. "Panic buying of gas right now will create this artificial demand that will make all of this worse."
This story was originally published by Shannon Lilly at WTVR.