watch out for Irish-style scams on highway service areas

This summer, before the big departures for the July holidays, several gendarmeries, including the Haute-Marne, are warning against the return of the “Irish scam”. A scam with parking lots and rest areas for the purpose of extorting money from motorists on the holiday motorway (article originally published in 2020).

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All precautions must be taken for this first big weekend with departure on holiday, the gendarmerie warns road users of their safety at the wheel, but also draws attention to the scams that they may fall victim to. One of the most famous bears a name straight out of a detective film, but it is nonetheless anything but fiction, it is the “Irish scam”. A technique that for criminals consists in having compassion for others to exempt them from hundreds of euros.

The technique is simple, but proves to be effective, (fake) tourists, perfectly dressed, speaking impeccable English, and under the pretext of a wrecked car, or being a victim of theft, will do anything to extort a few hundred dollars from you. Euro. ” Don’t worry, we will refund you, here is our contact information“, is the default phrase that these scammers use to trick you into falling for it, but of course you’ll never see them again.

A well-established way of doing things, often it is a couple or even a couple with children to better appease the victims, who seem to be the friendliest, but who manage to manipulate their victims thanks to learned ways to approach you on.

After presenting themselves to you, the criminals use all means to prove their good faith, look worn out, and visibly in shock, they explain to you that their family has been the victim of a theft from their car, the window shattered, papers are missing, with a picture of a vehicle (probably not theirs) for support, the story seems believable at first glance.

They claim to be English and do not know how to do it, and then ask you for hundreds of euros to be able to return home, promising to send you the amount back as soon as they return. Everything seems honest to you, the “perfect” couple or family, people who seem in need, and a license plate in the picture, all come together to give you confidence.

A policeman from the Champagne-Ardenne region confirms this to us because he does not want his name to appear: this practice increases during the holidays. ” The criminals take advantage of the flow of holidaymakers because the parking lots in the highway service areas are overcrowded. They perform their scam by saying they end up on the street. And they want money. It depends on the main characters’ ability. They will settle down and try. This is reminiscent of the bitumen scam. The principle is the same, to entice the target. We recently had a case of a criminal driving a BMW coupe. ” A great luxury car that calms.

These scams have been around for a long time and are focused on identified Irish communities. ” They have a whole village in Ireland, confirms the policeman . But to expose them, you must encounter the blatant delicto. They play on human fragility. They spot the profiles. They are opportunistic. If you listen, they know they’ll be able to rip it off. “

First, do not lend money to strangers at a rest stop, especially if the amounts requested are large, you risk never seeing them again. The second piece of advice is undeniably to call the police, contact the gendarmerie, if these people are malicious they will be exposed, if they are in good faith, the gendarmes will be in the best position to help them.

We do prevention finish the soldier. On holiday you have a free spirit and once you have been cheated on it is too late. So we inform. We advise extreme caution, to remain polite and to reject any exchange with them. These people will guide you around. People present themselves well. It’s not pecnos. They have big cars. There are no defined areas. “ So be careful not to get caught.

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