LOWER MERION TWP., Pennsylvania — Drivers are being warned about pump switching, a gas station scam that’s become a growing trend.
Police in Lower Merion Twp., Pennsylvania say the crime occurs when an aggressive suspect offers to help someone pump gas.
“The suspects are often very aggressive and outright refuse the victim’s attempts to deny assistance,” Lower Merion Twp. police said in a Facebook post.
The victim leaves, but the scammer doesn’t return the nozzle to the pump.
Instead, the scam artist uses the active transaction to pump gas for other drivers, while demanding cash for gas.
“They’ll say, ‘Hey, I’ll pump your gas. Give me $20, I’ll fill you up,'” said Det. Sgt. Michael Keenan. “They’ll just charge it until the pump stops working or the credit card fills up.”
The suspects then keep the cash and leave the gas station, police say.
Police say most victims don’t realize the crime has happened for days or weeks after the incident, which makes it difficult for law enforcement to find and prosecute the offender.
To protect yourself, police recommend hanging up your own gas nozzle to end the transaction and print a receipt.
Investigators say this crime pops up from time to time, and they put out a warning after seeing an uptick again along City Avenue, the township’s border with Philadelphia.
Police say they have identified at least one suspect who could be involved. They say that person has been involved in similar incidents in the past.
Anyone who is experiencing pump switching should call 911.