I was a bit shocked when I was flagged down in my hire car just outside the hotel I was staying in. There were around 10 people dressed in red with ‘bombeiros’ on the backs of their jackets. I initially thought there must have been an accident and we were being diverted.
So, when the chap flagged me down, I pulled over and he made a hand gesture for me to wind my window down, which I did. He poked his head right into my car and said we are the ‘bombeiros’, we need a new ambulance so are raising money.
I grew up in Portugal and I remember what the Bombeiros looked liked and I also did not think they would ever try and raise funds in this way.
I refused to give money and put my window up.
Later in Armação de Pêra, I saw some firemen so asked them if this was real and they said “absolutely not”, that it was most definitely a scam and I should report it immediately.
My point is, they are targeting hire cars, and tourists should be warned not to open their windows or give them money.
The Bombeiros do need funds and support but be clear that if you give it to these people, it will not be helping them. Very upsetting for the Algarve to have this put upon tourists, as they were very convincing and I think many will handover cash in fear.
Gemma Raif, by email