The scam involves suspects often using aggression to offer assistance in helping someone pump their gas – however when the victim leaves the station, the suspect will fail to return the pump to the nozzle
Police have issued a warning over a so-called “pump switching” trend which sees scammers give away gas on a victim’s dime.
The scam involves suspects often using aggression to offer assistance in helping someone pump their gas. However when the victim leaves the station, the suspect will fail to return the pump to the nozzle, meaning the transaction doesn’t end.
A second victim will then also have their gas pumped by the suspect using the still active pump, with the suspect then taking their cash before fleeing. Police in the Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania, have warned after being called to several instances.
In a Facebook warning, the Lower Merion Police Department said: “The Lower Merion Police Department is disseminating information regarding a growing crime trend of people being scammed at gas stations in the Township. The crime occurs when suspects approach citizens pumping gas and offer to help them. The suspects are often very aggressive and outright refuse the victim’s attempts to deny assistance.
“The suspects then keep the cash and leave the gas station prior to police arrival. Most victims do not realize this crime has occurred for days or even weeks after the incident.”
They urged people to ensure they were returning their own gas nozzle to its holder, adding: “Anyone encountering this activity at a gas station is asked to remain on location in a safe area and call 911 so officers can respond immediately and assess if a crime has occurred.
“To protect yourself (and your wallet) please make sure to always hang up your own gas nozzle or hit ‘end transaction’ on the pump’s keypad. It is wise to print a receipt at the pump or obtain one from the office to as proof of purchase.”
Police say most victims don’t realize the crime has happened for weeks after the incident, which makes it difficult for law enforcement to find and prosecute the offender. Investigators added the scam pops up from time to time, and warnings have been issued after an uptick in cases.
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