Sun | Jun 16, 2024

Gas station scammers in the US

Published:Saturday | September 23, 2023 | 12:06 AM


I am not sure that scammers read the newspapers but, if they do, the following account would be less beneficial to them than to potential victims. These incidents apparently occur mainly in Pennsylvania, United States but, because the world is more like a global village, all newspapers offer international readership.

So, a trusting driver pulls up to gas up his vehicle. A fake pump attendant standing by shouts out to him “Hey brother, want me to fill it up for you!?” The unsuspecting driver then has his card information swiped. But, unknowing to that driver is that, when he drives off, the pump is not really hung up – his card is still available for running more gas. So another motorists drives up. “Hey, my brother!” the crook calls, “How much gas you are buying – $30?” “I’ll fill it for you and you give me the $30!” Normally, a lot of people may accept the offer to reduce the hassle of buying their own gas when they can give it to a guy who isn’t charging for service – except the gas money. Thus, the real victim of this cruelty is really the first trusting motorist whose credit card is still running behind while filling the thief’s pocket with his credit and possibly lowering his credit score.

If the initial driver who swiped his card had a remaining available credit of, say, US$5,000-US$10,000 on it, the scammer would just keep filling gas in car after car until the credit card runs dry, while filling his pockets.

And so, the next victim waits in line until he empties the first man or woman’s credit card. However, there is usually a sign, as common among scammers, that the posted gas attendant is not legit. If they offer to fill your vehicle and you object, or say something like “Thanks, but I got this man”, their demeanour will change to one of aggressiveness and insistence, as if they have something to lose. A really huge giveaway.

Using debit cards to purchase gas at the pumps is also unsafe. I’ve actually purchased gas in New York at a filling station and apparently the card left its footprint or fingerprints at the pump, possibly on a scanner that is sometimes set there – but a sympathetic conservative thief took just US$10 from it to buy gas. Purchasing gas from inside the store is seen to be the safest option, if you do not wish your card to be misused and compromised.


New York