MOTORISTS are feared to have been scammed out of thousands of pounds after a cash card cloning machine was found at a busy pay-at-pump petrol station.

The scam device was found by an off-duty policewoman at the Tesco Extra filling station in Prince Avenue, Westcliff, and then reported to supermarket staff.

At least 15 people are so far known to have fallen victim to the scammers, who withdrew money in New York, using cloned card details.

Lisa Shoreson, 41, from Leigh, uses the machine to pay for petrol and believes she may have fallen victim to the scammers before the cloning device was removed.

She said: “I had an automated phone call from my bank saying that my card had been used and they believed there may be fraud on my account.

“It ran through the transactions and said my card had been used in New York with someone withdrawing $100 twice and then being denied when they tried to take out another $200.

“It actually charged me £260, with fees and charges, for using it abroad, but they did refund it straight away.

“It was quite a weird feeling to hear what they’d done. I’m very careful about where I use my card.

You wouldn’t really think using your card at Tesco would be risky – you think their forecourt is covered by a lot of cameras and they see everything.”

More than 6,000 people have shared warnings about card scammers on social networking websites.

Fraudsters fit so-called “skimming” devices to cash points over the real card slot.

The devices can copy information from the chip and will often use a hidden camera to capture people’s PIN. The information is then copied on to a new card which fraudsters will use to withdraw money or pay for goods – often hundreds of miles away from where the real cardholder lives.

A spokeswoman for Essex Police said that after the officer found the device, on Saturday, March 29, it was removed immediately.

She added: “We were advised the machine would be kept by Tesco for the company’s own investigation.”

A Tesco spokeswoman declined to comment on how many customers had been affected by the device, how long it had been on the pump or the safety of their machines in general.

She said: “We were concerned to hear of this incident and we are helping the police with their investigation.”