Police warn of 'pump switching' scam happening at local gas stations

Authorities in Montgomery County are warning drivers of a growing scam called "pump switching" that could cost victims big bucks.

The Lower Merion Police Department said the crime happens when a suspect approaches a victim and offers to help pump their gas.

When the victim tries to deny assistance, police say a suspect will often act aggressively and physically take control of the gas pump nozzle. 

When the victim leaves, police say the suspect will intentionally fail to return the nozzle to the pump in order to keep the transaction going.


Police say the suspect uses the still-active nozzle to pump gas for following customers and requests that they pay in cash. 

They will keep the cash and leave the gas station before police are able to respond, according to police.

Most victims, according to police, are unaware of the costly transaction until days or weeks after the incident happened. 

The Lower Merion Police Department wants anyone who believes they are encountering "pump switching" to report it immediately from a safe location. 

Police remind drivers they are able to protect themselves by properly hanging up the gas pump nozzle, or hitting "end transaction" on the pump's keypad.

It's also recommended that drivers print a receipt at the pump or get one from inside the station as proof of their transaction.