Briefly, all 3 scams happen in rest stops along the highway, and are variations on common, even age-old scams.
The first one involves panhandlers who work rest stops, claiming they need money for gas or a ticket home because their car broke down. They may even have a clunker car nearby with the hood raised, or a fuel can as a prop. There will usually be a car at the end of the parking lot, in the last slot, with another person in it since the crooks work in teams. What to do? Don’t fall for the story and politely say no, or call the state highway patrol. You’ll often find the number inside the rest area.
The next scam uses fear of car trouble as the hook. This is where the scammer will say he saw your parents’ vehicle emitting smoke or dripping oil. In more destructive cases, scammers have been known to slash tires while the driver uses the restroom. The scammer then says he is a mechanic who just happens to be passing through, or seems to be a kind and helpful soul who volunteers to help the victim change the tire for a fee. Another twist is when the scammer pretends to be a body shop worker who offers to fix a dent or scratch while your parent takes a break. Sometimes the scammer will want payment up front, which is a dead giveaway for a scam.
Here’s what to tell your parents to do:
In uncommon cases the scammers may threaten your parents if they refuse to pay. Tell your parents to look for a security guard if possible, but if no one is around, it’s best to pay the criminal while getting a good description of the crook to report to law enforcement.
The final scam is the age-old 3 Card Monte trick perpetrated in rest areas. As implausible as it sounds, apparently this happens in highway rest stops. Space doesn’t permit a full description of the details of 3 Card Monte here, but you can find out more if you’re interested by doing a Google search for it. The simplest way to avoid this one is to never take part in card playing of any kind in a rest area.
Road trips are a big part of summer in America. I wish your parents and you enjoyable, safe, and scam-free travels. Now if we could just do something about the price of gas…
Thanks for reading,