Another day... another scam to worry about. This time it's a scam that is affecting motorists across Pennsylvania at the gas pump.

PA Police Warn: Don't Be a Victim of Pump Switching

Lower Merion Police have issued a warning about Pump Switching. Lower Merion is, of course, a Philadelphia suburb.

Pump Switching begins when suspects approach a customer who is pumping gas. They offer to help them pump their gas.

If you think it's easy to say no... it's not. They're often quite aggressive when they offer to fill your gas tank.


They wind up taking control of the gas pump nozzle. When your vehicle is done filling up they don't return the nozzle to the pump.

Therefore, the transaction doesn't finish.

Scammers Will Then Demand Cash at the Gas Station

So the original motorist will pull away.

The suspects remain at the gas pump and aggressively offer to pump gas for the next customer.

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Except this time they'll require the customer to pay in cash. The pump, meanwhile, has continued to rack up charges to the original victim.

The suspects are usually able to leave the gas station before police arrive. And, unfortunately, victims don't realize it has happened until it's too late in many cases.

Pump Switching: It's Easy to Be A Victim of this Scam

It's quite easy to become the victim of a pump-switching scam, actually. On the Philadelphia Subreddit this week, one poster shared her experience.

Fuel pump payment kiosk

She said she saw a group of kids at a gas station (aged 8 to 17). The youngest one approached her as she arrived at the gas station and insisted that they "didn't want to see a lady pump her own gas."

"After my car is filled he takes the pump out, closes the cap, and then starts to “tie his shoe” (which was not untied…), she wrote on Reddit. "All while still holding the pump in his hand. About 3 other kids, all older (probably high school), come over and the whole thing seems super sus."

The kids made a half-hearted attempt to put the pump back so it ended the transaction, but they did not fully place the nozzle back in the pump.

Close-up of a gasoline pumps nozzles in a petrol station

So the poster says she ultimately had to grab the nozzle from him and say "There you go" before she drove off.

She narrowly escaped becoming a victim of this crime.

It sounds like she was lucky to be savvy about what was going on. Unfortunately, not everyone is that savvy.

What to Do If You're A Victim of Pump Switching

If you witness this activity taking place at a gas station, remain on location in a safe area. Call 911 so officers can respond to assess the situation.


You should always end your own transaction by hanging up the gas nozzle yourself or hitting "ending transaction" on the pump's keypad as well if possible.

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