Essex: New warning as fuel scam tricksters target rural roads

POLICE have renewed a warning over a roadside scam in which drivers are being flagged down in an attempt to trick them out of cash.

Two incidents in west Essex on Tuesday May 22 have shown that the tricksters are also operating on country lanes after several weeks of working around motorways and busy A roads.

Several groups of people are believed to be involved in the scam in which the suspects pretend to have run out of fuel and money but offer ‘gold jewellery’ in exchange for cash to buy more petrol or diesel.

In all cases reported to police the allegedly fuel-less cars are driven away before officers arrived on the scene.

Most of the reported incidents happened near the M25 at Waltham, Abbey, near the M11 junction near Harlow and on the A127 near Basildon.

But two drivers have now come forward and told police how they were stopped by the tricksters at Stapleford Tawney and near Fyfield, both on the B184.

In the incident at Fyfield a driver was confronted by an old Mercedes car with three passengers which had stopped, half blocking the road. Two of the men flagged down the passing driver. They were said to have French accents and claimed to have run out of petrol. The driver who stopped said he could not help and drove off.

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In a similar incident less than an hour later at London Road, near Passingford Bridge, Stapleford Tawney, a driver was flagged down by three men who offered a wedding ring in exchange for cash to buy petrol. The three suspects were said to be “very forceful” but the driver they stopped refused to hand over cash.

Tony Ellis, the Epping Forest district crime reduction officer, said: “The best advice is not to stop if strangers try to flag you down.

“If they step out so that you have to stop, central lock your doors, keep the windows up and let them see you are getting on your mobile phone to call police on 999.

“Don’t speak to them. Move off as soon as you can but try to make a note of the index number of the car and any descriptions of the people in the car.

“This scam is well known in the Metropolitan Police area so it seems that the tricksters are now moving out into Essex. The so-called gold rings they have been offering in London are in fact brass rings.”