Parking lot fraud – Money for gas

It happened on the parking lot of grocery supermarket (Highland Farms near Dufferin & Finch intersection in North York – Toronto, Ontario, Canada). I and my wife came from the store to our car with full shopping cart through the dark parking lot (time was ~10 p.m.) One tall man of about 40 years old appeared from nowhere and asked for help starting with the phrase:

- Can you help me please? I’m not a beggar!

I was ready to help, but the last two words made me very suspicious. He spoke pretty loud and with confidence. It looked like he was telling that for hundreds of time before. The man told approximately the following:

- My car got stuck out of fuel on the road at Duffering and Finch.

- I left my wife and children there.

- I need some gas to put in the car

Then I have interrupted him by telling: “I know that story”.

The man became very angry and disappointed at the same time and shouted loudly “WHAT???!”

I just repeated “I know that story. Sorry, I can’t help” and went away towards to our car. The man said “WHAT??!” again and continued bothering other people. He got another turnabout from the potential victim.

It was the scam or fraud with 100%. It is hard to believe that someone would drive the car with his family without any money or cell phone (to call for roadside assistance) and almost empty fuel tank. Leaving the family in the car on the road in dark time and going ~1km away to ask for some money does not look like conscious behavior. If it was really the case, so that man most likely would meet a police officer behind his vehicle issuing a ticket for “out of gas on the road”.

Our story completed successfully for us. But how does it usually works? I made investigation after an incident. There are several possible scenarios. If the victim is in rush and really wants to help and did not recognize scam, then he will just give $20 to buy fuel can and some gas at the station. Story is over.

Sometimes potential victims asking questions about family left in the car, and the fraud person lies about his daughter having fever or something and it is better to stay in the car. Usually there is another accomplice who is so pleased to provide a fuel can to bring gas to the car, or scammer just getting the can from his own trunk when victim does not see. When some money goes into his hands he disappears quickly. This is how it works.

Some people who aware of this kind of fraud are trying to expose the fraud, or understand if the person really needs help. For example, if the victim takes the cell phone from the pocket and tells “I’m calling for police”, it takes away the scammer very rapidly. If you offer to take that fuel can and fill it up at gas station by yourself, fraud man does not allow you to do so, which definitely reveals the scam. Some people are asking to show that stuck car with the family, scammers just got angry. There are other ways to protect yourself and make sure that it is a fraud. The best way to avoid it is just saying “Sorry, I can’t help” and see the reaction – it will tell everything to you.

If you experienced similar fraud attempt to yourself, please share the location and approximate date to alert other people from the area. Usually this type of scammers keep their place for days or even weeks. Police is aware of this, but can’t really do anything. Let’s protect ourselves!

4 comments to Parking lot fraud – Money for gas

  • Jon

    There is also the variant of this whereby the scammer / fraudster is begging money for a tow truck but otherwise essentially the same.

  • Maria

    It just happen to me. It was outside a Cici’s Restaurant, in the Tom Thumb parking lot (Northwest at Centerville, Garland TX). An old lady with a young girl (about 8 or 9 years old)ask me for money for gas. I truly believed her. I asked her if she wanted to wait for a few coins I had in my car because I had forgotten my purse, (I know, I know)I was just going to drop my daughter at the restaurant. When I get back to my car she was gone but I saw her in the parking lot, so I gave her 3 dollars I had. I believed her!!I even took her to a close “friend’s home” to ask for a gas container. When I turned around the road, I could see the “friend” was not there, so I offered her a ride back to the store. I went back to Cici’s and when I left after two hours, the lady was still there !!! asking another person for money. I felt so stupid and really mad. At home I reported the incident to the store, they said they were checking but I am not sure if they could do something else besides asking the person to leave.
    Of course, my husband told me I put myself and kids at risk. It was a woman with greyish hair, about 60 something years old wearing a black jacket. The girl was wearing a pink jacket. I learned my lesson, please warn your family and friends about this kind of scam.:(

  • Ms Von

    Yes this happened to me at a Kroger, I was approached by a man that said that he and a baseball team were going to Dayton and their van broke down, he had to spend his last money for repairs, and now they don’t have money for gas, he had some young boys about 12 years old with him in the store also I gave him $7.00 and if I would have had more I would have gave simply because he was in need. God tells us to give and knowing that I do.

  • Ksenia

    You wont believe but this is happened to me three time straight!!!!non of them were asking for cash money but wanted me to fill out their tanks w gasoline.all happened at gas stations. 1) first happened in woodland hills . it was a man on motorcycle saying that he & his friend got in a bad accident, and he needs to get to the hospital asap and if i just can fill his tank. on what i said:” sorry, but i can not help you.” he got really angry and said:”you not sorry you just a bitch!”. and left.
    2) second happened near Beverly center. car parked. girl came out and went to me, saying that her brother in the hospital and she and her mom really need some help with gas. they has no money and bla bla bla. i asked her were is the rest of the family. on what she responded that they came from other state. i looked at license plate saying that car is registered in California. she said it a rental car. so i apply that if she got money to rent cat – she will have money to fill the tank as well.
    3) this one happened in Hollywood within 2 week from the second one. one guy came up to me asking for help with gasoline saying that it his first time in the city, he came here to be part of Hollywood show and he never got paid. also he has not debit & credit card on him, and his phone is not working. his cousin was with him in the car and got the same problem. so i said NO.
    Please be aware of “freeloader”! Just ask few questions about how did they and up in this situation. if you will see the sing that something is not right – just say NO.

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