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A truck driver has fallen victim to a scam after losing €350 to fraudsters who had disguised themselves as German police officers. 

The 48-year-old female trucker was driving her truck on the A7 motorway when the red sign ‘Bitte folgen’ (please follow this vehicle) appeared on the window of the white van in front of her. The woman followed the car, stopping at the Markwald car park in Mühlheim am Main in Hessen.

Two men in civilian clothes got out of the van, and after flashing their police badges and checking the driver’s card, accused the German woman of several traffic offences. However, they told her that if she paid €350 immediately she would avoid a much higher fine. The trucker agreed to this proposal and handed the money to the fraudsters. However, when she asked for a receipt, no reply was given. The woman then decided to call her boss, only for the men to flee to their van and drive away.

The trucker immediately notified the police. As a result, police officers in the town of Baunatal are investigating the fraudulent act and are looking for witnesses who can provide information on the perpetrators. According to the police, both men spoke impeccable German, had protective masks on their faces and rubber gloves on their hands. The first one has blonde hair, and is approximately 180-190 cm tall, while the second has dark hair and a darker skin complexion, he is 190-195 cm tall. None of them had any weapons, only handcuffs.

How can you tell a real policeman from a fraudster?

Similar situations occur relatively frequently in Germany. In December 2019, two Polish drivers fell victim to fake policemen. Back then, the truckers were stopped for an inspection on the A4 in Cologne. The disguised perpetrators were in a black passenger car. A passenger of the vehicle showed the drivers through the window a police badge, then directed them to the side of the road. First, he checked the documents of both drivers and then searched both of them and the vehicle. The perpetrator took €2,000 in cash from the truck and used a getaway vehicle to escape with the money.

The spokesperson of the Nienburg/Schaumburg police claims that regular traffic checks are conducted by uniformed officials. Checks are carried out using vehicles marked ‘Polizei’, and a real policeman can be recognized by his uniform with state emblems or by his service weapon. On the other hand, police officers in civilian clothes usually stop vehicles with a traffic wand (with the inscription ‘Halt Polizei’) and/or a light signal. Officers should identify themselves with a police ID card during checks. If for some reason this is not possible, every officer must agree to make a phone call to the local police station to verify their authenticity.

Since February 2018, the police ID card has been the size of a credit card and gradually replaces the previous paper card,” explains Paul Reich, senior lawyer at TransCash.eu.

In some federal states, e.g. Lower Saxony, officers still use paper cards.

The police also recommend closing all vehicle doors, even if the loading and unloading stops are only a short distance away.

Photo credits @ Polizei Bayern

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