Double-swiping the rewards card led to free gas for months — and a felony theft charge

FILE - A costumer pumps gas at a gas station in Mundelein, Ill., Feb. 8, 2024. A Nebraska woman is facing theft charges, accusing her of exploiting a gas pump glitch at a Lincoln, Neb. service station. Authorities say the woman found that by double-swiping a rewards card, she could put the pump into demo mode and get free gas. She's accused of costing the station nearly $28,000 in gas over a seven-month period. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, file)

FILE – A costumer pumps gas at a gas station in Mundelein, Ill., Feb. 8, 2024. A Nebraska woman is facing theft charges, accusing her of exploiting a gas pump glitch at a Lincoln, Neb. service station. Authorities say the woman found that by double-swiping a rewards card, she could put the pump into demo mode and get free gas. She’s accused of costing the station nearly $28,000 in gas over a seven-month period. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, file)

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska woman allegedly found a lucrative quirk at a gas station pump — double-swipe the rewards card and get free gas!

Unfortunately for her, you can’t do that, prosecutors said. The 45-year-old woman was arrested March 6 and faces felony theft charges accusing her of a crime that cost the gas station nearly $28,000.

Prosecutors say the woman exploited the system over a period of several months. Police learned of the problem in October when the loss-prevention manager at Bosselman Enterprises reported that the company’s Pump & Pantry in Lincoln had been scammed.

Fuel pumps at the station received a software update in November 2022 that managed, among other things, rewards cards. But the company was unaware of a glitch that allowed anyone swiping a rewards card twice to put a gas pump into demonstration mode. In demo mode, the user could pump gas at no cost.

A probable cause statement from prosecutors said the loss-prevention manager determined that one particular card had been used repeatedly to obtain free gas. Police were able to trace the card to the suspect, and video surveillance showed the woman pumping gas on multiple occasions from November 2022 until June 1, when the glitch was fixed, the statement said.

Authorities believe the woman not only used the scam to get free gas, but that she allowed another woman to use her card — for a fee.

The probable cause statement said the other woman told police that that she paid to use the card for “discounted fuel.” Authorities believe the woman paid Thompson $500 for gas purchases that should have cost about $700.

All told, the card was used 510 times, and more than 7,400 gallons of gas were pumped for free, the probable cause statement said.

The suspect is free on bond and has a court hearing April 11. A phone message was left Tuesday with her attorney.

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