Bogus tow-truck driver on M25 is conning drivers and the AA have issued an urgent warning

Essex motorists who break down on the M25[1] are being urged to be on the lookout for a bogus tow-truck driver preying on them for business. The warning comes after Robert Landragin, 60, was offered help by a man in an unmarked vehicle while he was waiting for the AA on the hard shoulder of the M25.[2]

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The rogue trader, described as Asian, 5ft 8in tall, having short dark hair and wearing a high-vis jacket, tried to load Robert’s 4×4 onto a white Mercedes Sprinter. On Monday, April 9, the AA described the incident as “rare” and “worrying” and advised people to ask for ID from their recovery driver if they were unsure.

The father-of-two said: “In normal circumstances a good Samaritan would be more than appreciated but in this instance it wasn’t. “The body language and the vehicle was concerning. I don’t want someone else to get ripped off.”

The mechanical electrical engineer was on his way to visit his daughter in Brentwood[3] on Tuesday afternoon when his Land Rover Discovery broke down on the M25 near Stapleford Aerodrome. He called the AA, who said a recovery vehicle would arrive within 90 minutes, and then waited behind the barrier. About 30 minutes later, a man in a tow-truck stopped on the hard shoulder, got out and offered to help.

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Mr Landragin, from Enfield, said: “He didn’t put out any beacons or lights.

I thought it was strange at the time but I didn’t really think about it.” The man told Robert that he could get the vehicle on the back of his truck. “I said it was a pretty good service and he said, ‘We always give a good service’,” said Robert.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s still the AA.” The man asked where he wanted to go, and Robert said the call handler at the AA had said he would be taken to Brentwood. He was then asked if he had called the AA and he replied he had.

Robert said: “Immediately he started packing up his stuff really quickly.” When Robert asked if he was from the AA, the man said he was from a “private company”. He added: “I said, ‘You’ve broken the law by stopping, and plying for trade on the motorway I’m certain is illegal’.

“He got back into his vehicle and pulled straight out onto the motorway.” Mr Landragin said he wanted to warn other motorists against the alleged scam. He said: “Suppose I hadn’t brought this to light and a young person was stuck on the motorway?

“If the AA says they’re going to send a recovery vehicle to you, people aren’t going to ask for ID.” He added: “The man could leave you on the hard shoulder having nicked your car and belongings. “I haven’t done this to get this particular chap into trouble.

I just want to warn people about what is a potential hazard.” A spokesman for the AA said: “This is a rare but worrying incident. Safety of our members is our absolute priority.

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“Those who report their breakdown on our mobile app can track the attending patrol’s progress on their journey to you.

“We would advise anybody who has broken down to check with the attending recovery driver where they are from and if they have been sent by their breakdown service. “If in any doubt, don’t hesitate to ask for ID or give us (or your breakdown provider) a call to confirm. “We provide our members with an ETA and our patrols and garage agents will often call from their hands free unit to let the member know when they are a few minutes away.”

A spokeswoman for Essex Police[4] said the force had not received any complaints about the incident.

References

  1. ^ M25 (www.essexlive.news)
  2. ^ M25. (www.essexlive.news)
  3. ^ Brentwood (www.essexlive.news)
  4. ^ Essex Police (www.essexlive.news)

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