On our way down through France two weeks (dual carriageway about five miles before Chartres) ago we overtook a Mercedes with a British Registration. It then overtook us with it's hazard lights flashing and an arm waving us down as it pulled onto the hard shoulder. Thinking that he had seen something wrong with our car I pulled up behind them on the side of the highway. A man got out and came up to the drivers window, he told me (in halting English) that he was running out of petrol and his credit cards didn't work in France -- the bank had summarily stopped them -- I know this happens after what occurred with my sons in northern France on their way down to our house a few years ago.
However, he said his wife and small baby were in the car so asked him what he wanted ... he "said 100 euros today, I pay you back 500 later ... take my watch, my ring my necklace ..." I was about to drive off when he thrust his engraved signet ring and a heavy gold chain into my hand!
After much to'ing and fro'ing and pleading -- I reckon he was Turkish -- we gave him 50 Euros really just to get rid of him. He wanted more, however, he wasn't getting any more, and he promised to pay us when he got back to London. Anyway, we exchanged business cards and he eventually drove off with his 50 Euros, went off onto a side road to a petrol station and we went on our way rejoicing with a ring and a necklace in the car..
He apparently owns a car import/export business in Germany, or so his expensive laminated business card says. If it was a scam I couldn't see the downside, I had kept the car in first with the clutch in just in case I needed to put my foot down, you can never be sure with the stories you read about hi-jacking on the roads in France ... but he had the ring of truth (but I had the ring of gold) and was obviously very desperate.
I now know this is a scam and many people have been caught out in this way. I won't be caught again however and list the information here for everybody else's information. The business card said his name was Ali Yildirim and though the card looked genuine, the address was spelled slightly wrong, though genuine after searching on Google Earth, the phone numbers were spurious as were the phone numbers. I have since discovered the registration plates were also false. This website says it all .... http://www.longrider.co.uk/blog/2009/03/10/the-petrol-scam/
So beware and don't be as naive as I very obviously was!