A scam by any other name …

Last week, in the very to-do part of west London called Chiswick, Maria and I were returning to her car when we saw a tall thin woman rushing along the street. She stopped as she came alongside us, and asked us if we spoke English. She then explained, in between fits of tears, that her husband had been involved in a car accident and that the police had done all they could to help her, and she needed to get to (some train station I can’t remember) in order to get to her husband. The problem was she had no car – she had lent it to her sister – and for some reason did not have her bag either. She needed just over 12 pounds for the train fare and would be so kind as to help her out?

Maria, seeing me start to reach into my purse, started asking the woman a few questions, such as: Where is your sister? Why can’t she come and collect you? And so on. It occurred to me that Maria didn’t believe the woman’s story. Eventually the woman said she would just rush home to number 23 and ask her neighbour, and rushed off down the street.

Turns out this is a common scam. I remained unconvinced of her subterfuge until Maria’s brother, a Chiswick resident of the very street in which we were parked, confirmed that number 23 lay in the opposite direction to which the woman ran away from us.

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