The new borough councillor for Southborough North is warning constituents of a potential con artist operating in the area – having been caught out himself.
Joe Simmons, who was elected on September 10, was driving on the A26 on Thursday when he spotted a ‘distressed’ man beckoning for help from the side of the road.
Pulling up next to a ‘broken-down’ blue Vauxhall Astra, he was approached by a man he described as Asian in appearance, who said he had run out petrol.
Cllr Simmons said: “I pulled in to see if I could assist. The driver told me his wallet had been stolen and he needed £10 to buy some petrol to continue his journey.
“He gave me his business card and promised to pay me back the next day.”
The man, who Cllr Simmons said looked to be in his late 30s or early 40s and about 5ft7in, then handed him a ‘gold’ ring.
“He put the ring on my car seat as a token of his honesty. I returned the ring, but kept the business card,” said Cllr Simmons. “Although I was very suspicious, I gave him the benefit of the doubt in case he really was in trouble, and took out my wallet.”
But the former university lecturer’s generosity soon backfired.
Cllr Simmons explained: “Suddenly the £10 request became £50 as he now had to get to a hospital in Newcastle, and a second ring was produced.”
Fully convinced of the man’s dubious motives, Mr Simmons decided to quit while he was £10 down.
He said: “After the second ring came out, I terminated the conversation, convinced of the con.”
The Times has a copy of the ‘business card’ which describes the man’s work as ‘import-export’ in ‘Europa-England-Holland-Dubai’.
Three of the four contact numbers on the card start with German area codes while the sole UK number is not answered.
The business address appears to be a hotel near Crystal Palace.
A spokesman for the AA said: “People getting conned on the road is deeply disturbing and this is exactly the sort of thing we at the AA warn drivers to watch out for.
“It has been happening in Europe and it is very worrying to see it happening here.
“Our advice for people who come across these conmen is to politely say no, drive a safe distance away and immediately call the police.”
Kent Police urged anyone who believes they have been a victim of a con to call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk