In further proof that nothing – absolutely nothing – is sacred these days, it seems that even the humble and formerly reliable petrol pump is now at the mercy of digital fraudsters.
A man called Denis Zaev has been nicked by the Russian authorities after allegedly creating and installing malware on forecourt pumps – that fooled refuellers into receiving 7% less fuel than they were actually paying for.
According to Russian news outlet Rosbalt, the massive swindle ‘covered almost the entire south of Russia,’ which – let me check my map – is a pretty big area.
It is thought that Zaev created several versions of his criminal malware, that neither Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs nor the oil firms responsible for the pumps were able to detect.
This is the bit that fills me with amazement: after creating his clever yet criminal software, Zaev apparently strolled into petrol stations and offered it to employees, who took a cut of the ill-gotten profits. That’s pretty risky, isn’t it? After building a clever scam you ultimately have to rely on the strangers you approach not grassing you up?
Anyhow, it’s alleged that he made millions of roubles from the fraud – but it looks like he’s going to be doing all his malware programming in the state penitentiary from now on, or gulag if they still have them.
Meanwhile in the UK, there have been reports that millions of drivers have been conned at the pumps by a mass scam called ‘fuel tax’ perpetuated by a shadowy organisation known only as ‘the government’, in an operation that is believed to have been going on for many years.