VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Beach Police are investigating an incident where people reportedly hacked into a gas station pump and stole more than $13,600 worth of gas. Two men have been charged in connection with the crime.
Police said it happened at the CITGO gas station on 1405 North Great Neck Road in Virginia Beach.
Officers said the individuals used a remote device to hack the pump and steal over 400 gallons of fuel in the span of a few hours. The devices allowed them to bypass the computer and not register the sale.
Scott Gibson, a cyber security expert and professor at ECPI University, said the hackers likely accessed the gas station's internal web system using a laptop.
Hackers are able to access the system by finding holes in a business's wifi or through a business employee opening a bad email.
"Ask questions before you click," he said. "Now they can get in there and set it up so at this day and this time, [they can] dispense the gas."
As police were patrolling the area, the officers on the midnight shift noticed an unusual amount of people stopping by the gas station after hours.
As officers started investigating, they found a social media post that read: "Gas fill up tonight at 11 p.m. Don't be late and spread the word. All gas, half off DM me for addy. Gas fill ups."
The post caught the attention of VBPD and validated what they saw happening at the gas station. They approached the individuals at the CITGO, who were later detained and interviewed.
VBPD's investigation revealed the individuals were receiving payment through CashApp and turning on the pumps via their device.
The gas station owner confirmed to police that he had noticed missing fuel the week prior, but didn't understand how. He said he lost $13,600 in gas in one week in addition to the 600 gallons of gas that were taken that evening.
Police have identified the suspects as 24-year-old Rashane Griffith and 21-year-old Devon Drumgoole, both of Norfolk. The men were charged with Grand Larceny, Conspiracy and Possession of Burglary Tools. Authorities say more charges could be filed.
But Professor Gibson says this type of hacking is highly sophisticated and suggests more people may be behind the crime.
"Somebody had to create the malware, somebody had to have an understanding of the software," Gibson explained. "It's highly sophisticated, but the people actually executing it may not be sophisticated."
Police are working to learn if this happened at any other local stations. They are advising any stations that close overnight to review their security camera footage to make sure they haven't been victims and are recommending that they take extra precautions so it doesn't happen to them in the future.
If you know anything about this incident, you are asked to contact the VBPD Detective Bureau at 757-385-4101, the Virginia Beach Crime Solvers at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP (1-888-562-5887) or submit a tip online at P3Tips.com.