Officials in New York and New Jersey are investigating whether merchants have been artificially inflating prices to take advantage of customers in the aftermath of Sandy.
"Investigators are going out and they're trying to assess where there's price gouging and where there are folks just passing along increases in wholesale prices," said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in an interview.
His office has received more than 500 complaints of alleged price gouging at gas stations, bodegas and other businesses.
In New Jersey, the Division of Consumer Affairs has received upwards of 1,200 complaints — 85 to 90 percent of them for the state's gas stations where lines have stretched as far as a mile and a half long.
"The overwhelming majority are related to gas station issues," said Eric Kanetsky, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. "They were particularly bad in the days immediately following the storm."
The NJDCA has already issued more than 100 subpoenas.
But proving these types of cases has been difficult. After Hurricane Katrina, a study from the Federal Trade Commission found that most cases of alleged price gouging following the storm were not legitimate.