IMG_1985 Odette ,Swan Lake Tatiana Ursu.jpg

Car park fraudster alert

By INÊS LOPES [email protected]

Elderly foreign residents in the Algarve are being targeted at supermarket car parks by an alleged fraudster claiming to raise money for a children’s charity on Madeira Island.

The Algarve Resident has been contacted by two residents who, in separate incidents, were approached by a man claiming to know them “from the post office” and proceeding to ask for charity money.

One incident in late February involved Algarve Resident contributor Margaret Brown who, in her March ‘Country Matters’ column, explained how she was at the Portimão Retail Park with her husband when a “well dressed” Portuguese man greeted them from inside his “nice car” and asked how they were.

“You remember me, I’m Victor from the Post Office,” said the man, who was accompanied by a youth.

Margaret, who lives near Lagos, thought his face looked familiar, shook his hand and listened while he explained that he also carried out charity work for an orphanage on Madeira Island which desperately needed funds.

“Eventually, we parted with more money than we could afford,” said Margaret. “We were victims of a very cleverly executed scam. With hindsight and without going into details, we realised we had been conned, two gullible and obviously British geriatrics ripe for the picking, who should have known better.”

Upon reading Margaret’s column, Richard Hughes, a foreign resident living in the Carvoeiro area, contacted the Algarve Resident after he realised he nearly fell victim to the scam twice.

Richard had actually been approached by a Portuguese man claiming to be “Victor from the post office” twice, first on December 11, 2011 at Aldi car park, in Alcantarilha, and later on January 12 at Iceland car park.

In both cases, the “well presented man in his 60s” confidently explained that they knew each other from the post office and that he was raising money for charity, although no identification was presented.

Richard said: “I do not know this man and don’t recall ever seeing him before. It was all very strange as he would go from trying to sell me battery shavers or a camera, probably worth around €300, to asking for charity money for children in Madeira.”

The foreign resident said it was the same man in both cases and that he spoke to him from his car. “He was well presented and was accompanied by a woman of a similar age,” said Richard, who added that he had taken down the number plate of the man’s vehicle, a “purplish-blue Opel”.

“This man is clearly targeting elderly foreign residents,” he said.

Although neither incident was reported to the police, the Algarve Resident contacted the GNR to find out whether they were aware of such a scam and to provide the number plate of the man in question.

A spokesman for the GNR said: “This type of fraud is not uncommon and there have been many similar cases reported to the GNR. People are advised to always request identification from these so-called fundraisers. Citizens should always report a suspected fraud to the police.”

The GNR are now investigating the case.