VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. - The Ventura County District Attorney is now warning the public Wednesday about people taking advantage of Thomas Fire victims by illegally raising prices or creating fake charities.
California law makes it illegal for businesses and people to raise prices 30 days after a state emergency is declared. Governor Jerry Brown declared a state emergency in the county because of the Thomas Fire which has burned at least 65,000 acres so far.
It is also illegal in California to charge more than 10 percent for vital services and items after an emergency is declared. This practice is called price gouging. The state law applies to food, items use for emergency clean-up, emergency supplies, and medical supplies.
Price gouging is a criminal offense. Those who engage in price gouging can face one year in jail and a fine up to $10,000.
District Attorney Gregory Totten is also warning people to be aware of charities that claim to help Thomas Fire victims. Totten recommends for people to only give money to charitable organizations they are familiar with.
If you suspect that you have been a victim of this crime, you can call District Attorney Investigator Cliff Williams at 805-662-1728.