Megan Lynch

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOX) – Missouri’s Attorney General is suing a Joplin landlord, accused of gouging tornado victims.

Chris Koster says his office received more than a dozen complaints from tenants of David Box Junior who say they were given only a few days notice their rent was going up following the storms.  The suit alleges they were threatened with eviction if they protested.

In one case a renter alleges he was notified that rent would rise from $475 a month to $595 a month, a 25 percent increase. Two others were told their rent would go up to $550 a month, a 16 percent increase.

“Unfortunately, there are always those who will take advantage of unsuspecting consumers during times of tragedy,” Koster said, “I want to continue to assure consumers that this office will be aggressive in going after those who engage in this illegal behavior.”

Box did not immediately return a message left Wednesday at his business.

Koster is seeking a court injunction against the allegedly unfair practices, restitution for tenants, and a civil penalty of $1,000 per violation of the law.

Koster previously obtained temporary restraining orders against two towing companies which conducted business in Joplin following the tornado, Northland Tow Service, LLC, and Independence Tow & Recovery, Inc. In addition to obtaining the temporary restraining orders, Koster is seeking restitution for consumers and civil penalties in both cases.

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