It seems like every other day we are being warned about a new scam sweeping across the country.  Scammers were bad before 2020, but it seems like the pandemic has just made them even more bold.

The latest scam that we all need to watch out for is the "pump switching" scam.

According to a report on the Jalopnik website, this scam involves the theft of gas.  Well, sort of.  It involves someone using your account to purchase gas for themselves and their friends.

The scammer approaches someone pumping gas at a gas station or convenience store.  The scammer basically insists that they "help" the target by pumping their gas.  After taking control of the gas pump, the scammer finishes filling the target's vehicle, then sends the target (now victim) on their way.  However, the scammer never hangs the nozzle back up.  This means the transaction has never been completed and is still open.  The scammer then pulls his or her vehicle up to the pump and proceeds to fill their vehicle up with gas on the victim's dime.

Alternatively, they may fill up other people's vehicles in exchange for cash.

Nikola Topić, Unsplash
Nikola Topić, Unsplash

Of course, certain people are more likely to be the target of this scam.  The scammer may, for example, approach an attractive woman, telling her that she is too beautiful to be pumping her own gas.  Or, the scammer may approach an elderly person offering to help them out because it is the right thing to do.

The article explains that this scam was first reported in Pennsylvania, but there is no reason to think that it is has happened elsewhere in the country.

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Gallery Credit: Katherine Gallagher

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