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September 11, 2001 attack opportunists

There were isolated cases of commercial opportunism following the September 11, 2001 attacks and subsequent 2001 anthrax attack. Perhaps the most widespread form was gasoline price rises that occurred across the United States.

Gasoline price rises

Immediately following the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks, rumors of skyrocketing gasoline prices led to a consumer panic in the United States; in the evening, long lines appeared at gas pumps in many areas of the country. Some gas stations ran out of fuel by the next morning. Authorities quickly stepped in to enforce price gouging laws and gasoline quickly returned to prices in line with the price of crude oil which rose slightly after the attack.

In Iowa, prices were rumored to reach $4.65 in the Quad Cities area, up from a typical range of $1.60 to $1.80 per gallon the previous weekend. The governor and attorney general issued statements to the effect they would investigate and prosecute instances of unreasonable price increases, and urged consumers to be calm. Penalty applied for gouging was $1000 USD fine if price exceeded $2.00 per gallon.

In Michigan some isolated gas stations briefly hit over $5.00 a gallon however the state attorney general vowed to prosecute for price gouging anyone charging over $2.00 a gallon. Some gas stations sold out of gas on the first night after the attack.

In Illinois, state attorney general Jim Ryan filed suit against convenience store chain Casey's Inc., for price gouging. The company faced a maximum penalty of $50,000 per offense if found guilty (and were they?). Casey's subsequently offered refunds to customers.

In Minnesota, state officials declared there was no price gouging because people were willing to sit in hour long gas lines for 3 gallons of $5.00 gas. Some people were even filling up 30gal barrels with gas because of what people viewed as a possible shortage.

Cases were reported in Indiana, Virginia, Kansas and Missouri also.

At least in Missouri it caused a run on gas for a few hours due to local radio who reported the few isolated cases (giving them the name "shock jocks"). Which came first, the reports of price gouging or the price gouging?

Other opportunism

Several people fraudulently collected benefits for people who did not exist or engaged in other scams. At least $2.5 million was fraudulently taken.

Following the anthrax attacks, sales of Cipro and gas masks exploded, with e-mail spam from mail-order companies fanning fear to prop up sales.

Critics of the airline industry bailout considered that to be a form of illegitimate opportunism.

See also Misinformation and rumors.

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