DRIVERS have been warned about dangerous scammers targeting petrol stations – stressing they could cost hundreds of dollars.
Police in Pennsylvania said they have seen an increase in customers being scammed while filling up at the pumps.
In a clever crime called “pump switching,” fraudsters approach drivers who are filling up their cars and offer to help.
Police officers often say they are aggressive in their willingness to help, which causes most people to give in and let them fill up.
As they drive off, they don’t notice that the fraudster hasn’t put the fuel nozzle back on the register and instead start filling up their own car.
This can cost the victim hundreds of dollars and it may take several days or even weeks to find out what happened.
“They’ll say, ‘Hey, I’ll fill your gas, give me $20, I’ll fill you up,'” said Det. Sgt. Michael Keenan told WPVI.
“You just keep charging it until the pump stops working or the credit card is full.”
Susan Mancill, a Lower Merion Township resident, claims she was scammed at a gas station by a man who wouldn’t take no for an answer.
“As I was putting the pump back in, he came over, took the pump out of my hand and said, ‘Hey! Don’t worry, darling, I got it,” Mancill said.
Shortly after arriving home, she received a notification on her phone that her credit card had been charged $165 at the gas station – $135 more than she thought she had spent.
To protect yourself, Keenan says it’s important that no one pumps gas for you, especially a stranger, unless you’re in New Jersey.
New Jersey is the only state in the US where it is illegal to pump your own gas, and a gas station attendant will do it for you.
When you’re done pumping, Keenan said, be sure to get out, put the nozzle back on the pump and always get a receipt to ensure the transaction was successfully canceled.
It doesn’t hurt to scout the area and look for a large number of lawyers at the train station.
If you feel you have been the victim of a dastardly crime, be sure to move away to a safe distance and call 911.