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French couple warn of service station scam after being conned by 'British family'

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French couple warn of service station scam after being conned by 'British family'
AFP
10:04 CEST+02:00
There have been numerous scams targeting foreign drivers in France but a French couple has spoken out this week of how they were conned out of €400 by a British man and his family seemingly at a motorway service station in the south west.

The couple named Jean-Pierre and Marie-Therese, from Haute-Garonne admit they were taken in and want to spare others handing over their hard earned cash to con people.

They pair were travelling recently on the A20 motorway when they pulled in to a small service station.

They told La Depeche newspaper that they were approached by a panicked British dad who told them they had lost everything after all their belongings had been stolen at a restaurant in Toulouse.

The father, who was with his wife and two young daughters pleaded for money to help them get back to the UK.

"He looked so distressed," said Jean-Pierre. "He told me that had been robbed the previous day at a restaurant in Toulouse and they had nothing left to get home. I checked the car's license plate number and even though there was a voice inside my head that made me doubt, we felt sorry for them and put our trust in them.

"He was clean cut and polite... I didn't think by this point that it could be someone acting."

The Good Samaritan couple handed over €400 and were promised by the man it would be back in their account "by Monday."

They took the British man's mobile number and exchanged several messages over the following days by WhatsApp. 

"Then one day there was no response and I realised I could forget about it," said Jean-Pierre.

Despite the loss of €400 the Frenchman, who regularly gives to charity, does not regret his actions.

"Foreigners get into difficulty in France. It could have happened and we would have helped them out but we won't be doing that anymore," he said.

According to La Depeche newspaper the scam carried out by a distressed English speaking family is not new.

It has been dubbed "the Irish swindle" (l'arnaque a l'Irlandaise) after a similar incident in early July involving a family reportedly from Ireland, who had also pretended to have been robbed to con charitable French motorists out of their cash.

The couple were recently arrested on the A62 motorway in the direction of Bordeaux by police from Toulouse after they had reportedly forced through a toll barrier north of Montauban and not for the first time.

The couple were released but were due to appear before a judge at a later date.

But drivers in the area have been warned to take care and unfortunately it seems wise for them to question their charitable instinct.

This is not the only driving scam that motorists can fall prey to in France. Indeed stories of dozens of different types of scams targetting tourists have emerged over the years.

We look at some of them in the link below.

READ ALSO: Driving in France: The common scams thieves try on foreign motorists

Driving in France: The common scams thieves try on foreign motorists

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