Four Florida men were arrested for installing devices inside gas pumps that reduced prices to near-zero, an alarming trend that officials believe will only grow as fuel prices rise.
The suspects, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, inserted sophisticated pulsators into pumps that control price and fuel flow.
Pumpers could almost fill up for free thanks to the devices, which reduced per-gallon costs to pennies.
The scam was allegedly carried out at two different Circle K locations in Lakeland and Lutz.
Officials claim Garcia-Martinez used a remote device to control the pulsators.
On March 10, Yordian Diaz-Benitez, of Tampa, was arrested for stealing diesel fuel at a Lutz station. Two days later, Marlon Rosel-Rodriguez was arrested for attempting to install the device into a pump at the same station.
According to Ned Bowman, president of the Florida Department of Agriculture, rising gas prices have fraudsters salivating.
According to Bowman, the schemers arrive at tainted pumps in enormous vehicles with oversize tanks and fill up on the discounted fuel before reselling it for a profit.
With Florida gas rates hovering around $5 per gallon and gas thieves able to fill up for pennies on the dollar, the practice hurts both merchants and regular customers, according to Bowman.
Station owners have been cautioned by law authorities to keep an eye out for trucks that are stopping at gas pumps for excessively long periods of time.
Station clerks are also checking their inventory outflow and income to see if any pumps have been hacked.