A new scam, happening on highways across the GTA, is ramping up concern.
The OPP say they’ve received dozens of complaints from the public and are investigating, what they describe as, a dishonest scheme that takes advantage of people’s generosity.
Most of the cases are similar.
Robert Colquhoun said he and his sister were on Highway 401, about to exit at Victoria Park, on Wednesday when a man waved him down. Colquhoun said the man, whose vehicle was pulled over on the ramp shoulder, proceeded to ask him for gas money, saying he needed it to go to Montreal.
But something didn’t seem right at all.
“I could not only hear his car running, but I could see the exhaust coming from his exhaust pipe,” Colquhoun said.
“I had seen a post about this sort of thing happening, but it was so obvious to me (it was a scam) when I noticed his car was running.”
Colquhoun said the scammer eventually got back into his car and drove away.
Colquhoun reported the incident to Toronto police and took to Facebook, saying he wanted to warn his friends and family about his encounter. He said thousands of people responded to him online
“There were people who experienced exactly what I’ve experienced,” he said.
“There were some people who said they thought this guy was the same guy who did this to them.”
CityNews viewers shared similar stories and photos, saying they too were flagged down on the side of GTA highways by drivers who claimed they were stranded and needed money for gas.
In some cases, the viewers said the drivers even offered to give gold jewelry as collateral.
According to the OPP, in many cases the jewelry appears to be fake.
Police said there’s been an increase in calls by concerned residents reporting similar instances.
“We have gotten many calls on these types of situations. We are actively investigating several cases right now,” OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt explained.
“I know charges have been laid in some of these instances already. We are aware of the situation and we are working hard to prevent this from happening.”
Schmidt said in many cases, people are falling for the scams and handing over money to the dishonest drivers.
“I’m sure there are many victims out there, embarrassed to come forward because they don’t want to admit that they have been victimized,” he said.
“For most cases, I would say many people are out there, and they have lost money and have been defrauded because of their compassion and goodwill.”
As to why people are appearing to fall for these scams, Schmidt said it’s because the victims think they’re coming to someone’s rescue.
“It’s just unfortunate people are trying to take advantage of the generosity,” he said.
“But when you find out that you’ve actually been scammed into providing money in exchange for something of worthlessness, it’s a sour note and we don’t want to see that happening.”
The OPP said the accused scammers are also posing safety concerns by parking their vehicles on the sides of busy highways and ramps.
Police are reminding residents to be cautious and said anyone who notices suspicious activity should contact police.