The Meridian Police Department has issued a warning about a scam that is evidently linked to the use of credit or debit cards at a local gas station.
Police Chief Chris Blanton said a number of people have reported unauthorized purchases that were made with their credit and debit cards after they used the cards at the Exxon gas station at 201 Morgan St. in Meridian.
"This is not something that in the almost eight years that I've been here we've had this kind of a problem,” said Blanton.
Blanton said within the last week more than 15 people have reported fraud, and that the number keeps growing.
“When 15 or 20 people have come, and some of them have lost $400 or $500, that’s theft,” he said.
Amanda Gregory is one of the fraud victims.
She said someone made three consecutive purchases totaling more than $1,200.
“My husband and I worked pretty hard for that money,” said Gregory.
Her bank reimbursed her for the amount charged.
She said the experience taught her a lesson.
“Be more diligent with your bank statements and with your debit card, and don't maybe be as free to use it everywhere,” said Gregory.
Blanton said the department tried notifying the gas station’s owner, but said he was not cooperative with the investigation.
He believes the pumps could have a skimmer inside, but can’t know for sure until an expert can inspect the inside of the pumps.
He said he has no reason to suspect the owner had prior knowledge or that he is responsible.
The owner’s son did not confirm the problem, but said if there is a problem, it is with Exxon and not the local station.
For now, police are cautioning others until they can investigate further.
“As far as we can tell it’s the gas pumps. It’s not the inside’s credit card machines, it’s just the gas pumps,” said Blanton.
“We encourage you… please shop at the store, buy gas at the store. Just at this time it would probably be best not to use your credit card at the gas pump,” he said.
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