Drivers: Beware of roadside scams

New 'gold scam' hits drivers in Spain

Image of a broken down car at the side of the road. Credit: xiao yu/

The latest scam to cross into Spain from France targets generous drivers, revealing a worrying trend in criminal innovation.

One scam, which has since been dubbed the ‘gold scam’, was first reported on the outskirts of Paris and has now been reported in Spain.

A man, with his family, pretended to need help at the side of the road, claiming they were out of fuel and money. When a good Samaritan stopped to help, the scammer turned down the offer of a trip to the fuel station.

Instead, he offered jewellery as payment for some cash, even suggesting they go to an ATM. The jewellery of course turned out to be worthless, and the scammer got away with the money.

French authorities have warned about this scam, which has also been reported in Spain. This is just one of many scams people might encounter.

Widespread deception on the roads

Beyond the ‘gold scam’, Spain’s roads are also witness to other deceitful tactics. The ‘mechanic scam’, particularly prevalent in Catalonia, targets solitary elderly drivers.

A pretend mechanic follows closely behind and indicates for the driver to stop. The criminal points out a fake vehicle fault which he assures can be fixed quickly by the roadside, only to charge an exorbitant fee for non-existent repairs.

Another deceit involves the ‘pirate tow truck’ con, where fraudsters impersonate insurance company tow services at accident scenes. Unwary drivers are swindled out of money with promises of reimbursement from their insurers, a promise that is obviously never honoured.

Vehicle theft and road-based fraud continue to challenge Spanish authorities, including the Guardia Civil. These crimes not only reveal the lengths to which criminals will go but also serve as a caution to drivers.

Always verify the legitimacy of anyone you encounter in distress on the roads, and report suspicious activities to the authorities.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.