The Petrol Scam

People must be getting really unlucky on Britain’s motorways these days. After all, they keep running out of petrol – at least, that’s what they are telling me. In the past few weeks I’ve been accosted on no less than four occasions at motorway service stations by these hapless travellers. So lacking in foresight – and presumably folding stuff – are they, that they apparently set out on their journeys completely unprepared for the need for fuel. At least, that’s the impression they would like me to believe.

I think the most pathetic was the chap at Frankley on the M5 who would have me believe that his wife and child were waiting somewhere on the hard shoulder because the police had refused to provide any assistance, forcing him to walk along the hard shoulder to the nearest services – and, as luck would have it, not only had he run out of petrol, he had no money to buy some more, so could I let him have some of mine, please? The more sharp eyed among his potential marks might have noticed that he had no petrol can, either, so getting it back to the car was going to be interesting.

I have to admire the sheer cheek of the guy at Donington Park who told me that he was happy to accept Euros if I had no UK currency with me. I’m sure he was, but it wouldn’t have been much use in the petrol station. But, then, this wasn’t about petrol, was it? And, again, no petrol can in sight, so I wonder where he planned to put this petrol that he supposedly wanted to buy.

I was accosted twice today at Leicester southbound. Once on the way in, where a scrote asked me to do him a big, big favour and give him some money for petrol. His story might have been a smidgen more believable if he had put his mobile phone away – after all, the obvious response would be “phone a friend”. It went through my mind, although I didn’t articulate it; I merely pointed out that I had heard this story already. Then on the way out, god dammit, if another of the buggers didn’t try the same trick. What is it about Leicester? is all the petrol evaporating out of the fuel tanks or something?

What is it with these people? Isn’t plain old begging good enough for them? I wouldn’t mind, but they can’t even be bothered to buy a petrol can to make their flannel even slightly authentic. If they can’t be bothered, why should I?

All that said, I didn’t see anyone falling for it…


Update 20/03/13: This from a reader, Steve Young:

Reading your Petrol on Motorway scam — specifically the comment by Frankie. Happened to me in France last week, almost exactly the same as he said — the name on the business card was Ali Yildrim and looked very genuine, the phone numbers don’t work and the address is slightly misspelled though genuine when looked up on Google Earth. The email address is false … and if I had spent more time looking at the card I would have seen the inconsistencies immediately. He got 50 Euros from us just to really get rid of him. This occured on 6th March this year.


  1. DOH!! I think I fell for this one. I was just getting onto the M1 at Junction 15 when I was flaged down by a smarthly dressed Asian looking man standing next to a black Mercedes. He introduced himself and hnded me his business card. According to him he was a vehicle exporter from Germany. He was on his way to catch the ferry back to the conrinen and he’d run out of Petrol. He said he also had no money and wanted me to lend him some. He promised to send me back the money once he got home. He also wanted to borrow my phone to call his wife in Germany as the battery on his had expired. He seemed genuine so I reached into my wallet and gave him a £20 note. His response was that £20 wouldn’t get hime very far. He asked i I could lend him some more and said I could keep all his jewelry if I didn’t trust him. At this stage he took of his gold chain and a couple of rings and dropped them on my passenger seat. I said £20 was all I could afford and gave him back his chain and one ring. Just then a police car pulled up behind his MERC. He seemed nervous when he saw the police. He thanked me a proceeded to walk towards the police. So he’s got my £20 and I have a chunky 18k gold ring with a Mercedes logo on the top. Anyway I’ve left a message on the number on the business card so I’ll wait to see if he gets back to me. I’m going to the Jewelers to get the ring valued just in case its a fake.

  2. The ring will be worth less than £20 and you’ve seen the last of that. These people play on your good nature and spin a fairly plausible story. If you have the time, which in the circumstances, you don’t, you will realise that no one sets out on a motorway journey without the means to complete it – no one that is but a congenital idiot. Also, ask; why as a foreigner, didn’t he have international recovery insurance such as Europ Assist? Also, travelling abroad, no credit cards, not enough currency? At the side of the Motorway, you don’t think these things through and they are relying on that. Therefore, it’s a scam.

  3. Yet to experience the petrol scam, but I’m sure I will. I must have a trusting face, I’ve come to think. If there’s a moocher about, he or she will invariably home in on me.

    Alas, I don’t oblige as I once might have, so my (presumably) credulous mien no longer signals genuine credulity.

    No change for a bus? Too bad. Walk, like I would. You weren’t actually planning to use that money for the bus? Then I was right not to give money to a barefaced liar. Out of petrol and money on the motorway? You’re clearly too stupid to be on the road, so you’ve done us all a favour. Or: learn from this experience and PLAN BETTER NEXT TIME.

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