It appears the entry fee scam perpetrated on those sitting in the lengthy queues in their cars at the border is back. I suppose one has to ask, did it ever go away?
On Friday I received this email from Philip. He wrote: “Today a scruffy man tried to take 20 euros off my partner and I as we drove into the queue to get into Gibraltar from Spain. He scribbled something in marker pen in the bottom near side windscreen. He rubbed this out when it became apparent we would not be paying as we failed to see how this could help. The man was still around later in the day, we drove past and ignored him.”
Philip closed his email by asking: “Is this a regular thing?”
My answer would be that I thought it currently isn’t but it certainly was. I can’t remember seeing these scammers in recent years in the queues but they certainly were a common sight during the 1990s.
In those days the tactic was to sell drivers in cars the scammers had identified as belonging to tourists an actual ticket to get on to the Rock. This they were assured was needed and they were asked to hand over pesetas in those days. And what did they get in return? An ONCE lottery ticket torn in half. At least if it was an actual valid ONCE ticket you might have ended up winning some cash instead of being out of pocket.
Of course this ploy would only work with tourists as a Spaniard would know an ONCE ticket when he or she saw one and Gibraltarians and regular visitors would know only too well there was no charge or indeed tickets.
As the drivers are being targeted in La Línea’s lengthy queue, where they are sitting ducks for the shysters, there is little on the face of it that Gibraltar or Gibraltarians can do about it. However it should be of major concern to us as the victims will feel they have been conned whilst visiting Gibraltar and hence our named is blackened by the scammers.
Gibraltarians and those who cross by car in to Gibraltar on a regular basis can help. If you see the scammers at work then please warn the innocent tourists they should not pay. A loud blast on your car horn will probably do the trick!
Clear signs on La Línea’s lampposts along the route of the queues in English and Spanish warning drivers that no ticket is required to enter Gibraltar would also be a great help. Cracking down on the scammers is as much in our neighbour’s interest as it is ours.
Our Chief Minister and La Línea’s mayor now work closely together on many fronts. A word from Mr Picardo in Gemma Araujo’s shell-like should do the trick on the tricksters.