"to make excessive gains, as by the sale of necessary goods at extortionate prices," 1797, but dormant in English until it was revived early 20c. and popularized in World War I, from profit + -eer. From 1912 as a noun. Related: Profiteering (1814).
Or is it simply hysteria which produces what is to-day termed "the profiteer?" It is probable that the modern profiteer is the same person whom we formerly called "the grafter, the extortioner, the robber, the gouger." [Legal Aid Review, April 1920]