I encountered an unusual situation at a gas station in North Platte, Nebraska. For those of you who don’t know, North Platte is a small town on I-80 in the middle of nowhere.
A woman approached me from the other side of the gas pumps claiming that she was from Sweden. She said that she needed to put gas into her rental car before returning it to the airport. She asked for help with the gas pump, claiming that she didn’t know how to use the U.S. gas pumps.
At this point, a number of red flags were going off in my head. Unbeknownst to this woman, I had worked with people in Sweden and visited the country. Thus, I knew a few things about Sweden and how people spoke there. This woman’s English with a hint of an alleged Swedish accent sounded quite questionable to me. I also pumped gas in Sweden and knew that their gas pumps worked the same as they do in the U.S. with the main difference being that gas is measured in litres in Sweden instead of gallons.
Her story just wasn’t adding up. Besides, why would a person from Sweden be in North Platte, NE with a rental car heading to a small regional airport? It is always possible that she had specific business in the middle of Nebraska and had flown to North Platte from Denver, but given the other inconsistencies, my alarm went off saying, “This has to be a scam.”
My skepticism must have showed on my face and the woman knew that she wasn’t going to get anywhere with me. She finally said that she guessed she could go ask the clerk at the station. I agreed that was a good idea and left it at that.
With the variety of scams in the world, you need to pay attention to what is happening and what the person is trying to get you to do, not just the story you are being told. People have been known to distract you at a gas pump to steal your wallet, distract you so someone else can steal from your car, pretend their credit card isn’t working to get you to use yours for their gas, and probably many more schemes.
Although I don’t know for sure, I strongly believed this was a scam and I am glad I paid attention to the details and realized that her story didn’t add up!