French Gypsies arrested over tool-sharpening scam

26th November 2010, Comments 75 comments

French police seized six kilos of gold, 16 guns and two luxury cars when they arrested eight Gypsies accused of a massive tool-sharpening scam, officials said on Friday.

Four men and four women of the same family were detained Tuesday in the eastern towns of Strasbourg and Geispolsheim on charges of fraud, extortion, money laundering and falsely claiming social security benefits.

They are accused of swindling at least 104 different companies out of hundreds of thousands of euros by offering to sharpen their machine tools for a very low price but then demanding up to 15 times the quoted price.

When police raided their homes they also seized 21,000 euros (28,000 dollars) in cash along with the six kilos (12 pounds) of gold with an estimated value of 120,000 euros, officials said.

© 2010 AFP

75 Comments To This Article

  • Mark posted:

    on 17th July 2017, 15:00:17 - Reply

    They are Currently operating in the GL19 Gloucestershire area - Don't be tempted and don't let them into your property. Currently using 2 silver Mercedes estate cars..
  • Geee posted:

    on 17th July 2017, 11:09:38 - Reply

    Still active in Bolton Lancashire, be really careful!
  • Davis posted:

    on 31st May 2017, 09:30:21 - Reply

    They are still active. in Stoke on Trent May 2017.
    They have been to other businesses we know in the area. They took some free tools to demonstrate. Did not bring all of them back. Got annoyed when we did not want to hand over a load of tools to sharpen. We offered to pay for the 'free' tools. When we asked their business address etc for future reference they could not name an address and left in a hurry.
    Then we saw this comments section.
  • Don posted:

    on 24th April 2017, 12:58:57 - Reply

    How did you manage to get rid of them. Someone fell for it at our place and still getting calls and emails from them
  • mark posted:

    on 11th April 2017, 19:27:10 - Reply

    They have been in Preston Lancashire today, I stupidly gave them a few things.
  • John posted:

    on 11th April 2017, 12:54:42 - Reply

    They are operating in the North East, Cleveland.

  • ADE posted:

    on 5th April 2017, 17:24:38 - Reply

    They are in Lincolnshire (Horncastle) and going under the name T. Modeste.. Quote and invoice address is based in Trelleborg Sweeden. DO not let these guys anywhere near your business, they are very bad news.
    In short the scam is to charge 3.85 per CM for cutting edge but they refer to the whole spiral fluted section..

  • DamienJ posted:

    on 20th March 2017, 12:18:37 - Reply

    I fell for it. Almost cost me
  • jason posted:

    on 16th March 2017, 10:15:21 - Reply

    they are now operating in the south wales area
    two guys one in is 20s and the other in his 30s claiming to be french and operating from cardiff
    they are driving a black merc estate with french number plates!
  • Michael posted:

    on 9th December 2016, 16:51:20 - Reply

    I believe the same guys are operating in East Sussex (Lewes and Ringmer area), a dodgy character came to our works asking to sharpen tools. It is believed that the story is used as an excuse to enter your workshop and see what there is to steal. The name of Mr Petalo was used on a business card. The email address is

    The person could not provide any accurate address or business invoice details. Please be aware and report to police if you suspect anything suspicious.

    The person became pushy when I was not comfortable to provide with tools / drills to sharpen.

    The character was in 20s and of eastern European origin.
  • TCannell posted:

    on 23rd November 2016, 11:24:06 - Reply

    They have just arrived in BRIGHTON! Beware...
  • Chaz posted:

    on 15th November 2016, 16:24:26 - Reply

    TODAY in Shaftesbury, Dorset at 12.57, I have photos of the car. German accent , 2 guys.
  • JFed posted:

    on 14th November 2016, 18:41:56 - Reply

    Reports last week in the High Wycombe area
  • fintan posted:

    on 1st November 2016, 15:32:14 - Reply

    hi. i had them in today and they took away a drill bit and a pair of scissors, how was it resolved with you when they came back.
    thanks Fintan
  • James posted:

    on 28th October 2016, 13:54:35 - Reply

    In Diss today. They took a drill bit, a tap and a pair of scissors - no paperwork and didn't leave a bill, but we won't have them back
  • Bill posted:

    on 20th October 2016, 10:45:55 - Reply

    They're back in the romford essex area, black BMW estate. reg XG6001. please be aware!
  • Mark posted:

    on 19th October 2016, 17:13:22 - Reply

    They were in King's Lynn today, same scam, threatening to come back tomorrow
  • Mathew posted:

    on 11th October 2016, 12:57:38 - Reply

    They were in Halifax in August 2016
  • SUMMER posted:

    on 11th October 2016, 16:14:19 - Reply

    We got scammed by them, they came to Kettering last week, they brought back some drill bits they supposedly sharpened- they didn't and they are charging us
  • VIVIENE posted:

    on 10th October 2016, 12:18:36 - Reply

    They were around Little Addington, Northants last Tue.
  • AJM posted:

    on 10th October 2016, 12:22:47 - Reply

    Just had a visit, we are just outside Cambridge and St Neots
  • FionaSherratt posted:

    on 3rd October 2016, 11:49:25 - Reply

    They are in Corby Northants
    today, please be aware
  • Dylan posted:

    on 4th October 2016, 20:05:09 - Reply

    They are around the Peterborough Corby area now.
  • dylan posted:

    on 4th October 2016, 20:32:01 - Reply

    They also have a peugeot van / people carrier AQ951MK
  • mike posted:

    on 23rd September 2016, 19:26:33 - Reply

    Currently doing the rounds in birmingham and coleshill area! Be aware!

    Black merc amg c class blacked out windows all round and an old merc both on Belgium/B plates
  • Michael posted:

    on 16th September 2016, 20:00:54 - Reply

    Hi They are around Sidmouth / Exeter area now. They conned us yesterday. Little old man gave us the chat. Did two for free very nicely, persuaded us to do job lot for
  • Ian posted:

    on 1st September 2016, 08:16:05 - Reply

    we have had two French guys saying they will do sharpening and hardening for free when they brought them back they wanted high inflated price and said that they had done a good job and wanted paying for this when I said no all I have had in loads and loads of threats ... BE AWARE DON`T GET INVOLVED
  • Lear posted:

    on 31st August 2016, 10:46:15 - Reply

    French Gypsies in newport gwent trying to sharpen tools again, we fell into same mistake 2 yrs ago and had no option , as they then threaten you, police not interested in getting involved.
    they have a silver ml merc
    and new top of range merc amg, on Belgium plates, call police if they turn up
  • Jodie posted:

    on 11th August 2016, 16:45:45 - Reply

    French tool sharpeners in our area Woodbridge, Suffolk beware!! Note - no contact details or emails on card!!
  • Rob posted:

    on 22nd August 2016, 12:32:18 - Reply

    I've just had some French guys come round wanting to harden drills. I sent him away with one to do for free, then came accros this post. I am in south lincs area near spalding so beware!
  • Dennis posted:

    on 10th August 2016, 12:50:49 - Reply

    They are now working in Suffolk.
    Had them on our premises in Aldeburgh.
    They did a decent enough job but price was inflated upon return. We did not pay the full amount and he left unhappy.
    We were just glad that we did not send the whole amount of items that we originally picked out!
  • passiton posted:

    on 1st August 2016, 21:16:28 - Reply

    They were in our workshop in Cheadle, Stockport today, driving a very nice Mercedes Coupe, White with Belgian Number Plates, sounded very dodgy and pushy, not happy when he was leaving and his mate in the seemed less happy, needs to be stopped.
  • Matt posted:

    on 1st August 2016, 19:37:53 - Reply

    They are working in Watford today. Gave them some drills to sharpen (before reading this obviously) - due back in the morning. Could be interesting.
  • belinda posted:

    on 25th July 2016, 12:55:59 - Reply

    still in the Dewsbury area, we have just had them here - 25.7.17
  • Daniel posted:

    on 18th July 2016, 16:12:27 - Reply

    They are calling around Llanidloes saying they go back to shrewsbury to sharpen them
    Real big guy in black/dark green mercedes estate
  • Rob posted:

    on 6th July 2016, 12:12:26 - Reply

    It seems they are working in the Derbyshire area at the moment. Very pushy and persistent.
  • Tony posted:

    on 29th June 2016, 13:14:56 - Reply

    In Cheltenham today and due here at 2pm. Have told the police, willthey bother turning up??
    Black estate car reg No. XG6001
  • Keith posted:

    on 17th June 2016, 14:24:52 - Reply

    operating in Stoke On Trent
  • Adrian posted:

    on 7th June 2016, 19:39:13 - Reply

    Working in the Royston, Hertfordshire area today 6&7th Jun 16. Black BMW reg DB 611 EB
  • Toby posted:

    on 26th May 2016, 16:07:29 - Reply

    They have just taken a bundle of bits off to sharpen from my workshop in Lewes, Sussex. I have called the police...awaiting a call back. They are due back in tomorrow to drop off the bits so hopefully the police can out Sussex!!
  • Mary posted:

    on 24th May 2016, 10:15:41 - Reply

    They are currently working the Blackburn area!! Quite Intimidating!
  • Taminavalu posted:

    on 23rd May 2016, 09:22:58 - Reply

    They are currently in Gateshead area operating this scam. Be wary.
  • PW posted:

    on 19th May 2016, 15:59:28 - Reply

    they are in teesside at the moment, very intimidating & wouldnt leave our premises. they a driving a black bmw x5, do not pay any money & contact the police if you see them.
  • Mary posted:

    on 18th May 2016, 17:18:03 - Reply

    "Working" the Poole Dorset area today! Black estate car reg No. XG6001. Merc Or similar didn't get a good look as he drove off quite fast when I told him go away very politely... different French men, but same trick tried last year!! Aaargh, next year it will be their tools getting sharpened!
  • MarkB posted:

    on 18th May 2016, 14:35:40 - Reply

    They are working the York Area at the moment, please be on guard as my staff tell me they are very intimidating.
  • debbie posted:

    on 18th May 2016, 12:19:29 - Reply

    Just had vist sliver Mercedes foreign number plate asking about tools sharping Poole dorset 18/05/16
  • Sawtec posted:

    on 17th May 2016, 12:23:17 - Reply

    We have had them call in last year and now again yesterday and today! We are a tool sharpening business!
  • GypsyToolScam posted:

    on 19th April 2016, 22:31:07 - Reply

    Hi Amanda, we are having exactly the same problem. Don't pay them a penny. Regarding the police, it is imperative that you complain about the police. Please contact me to see if we can combine our complaints about the police.
  • Amanda posted:

    on 18th April 2016, 13:05:04 - Reply

    They are in Dewsbury. We have contacted the police, national fraud squad, local papers and national papers. Please do the same, the police are not taking this seriously, which is why we have contacted the papers. UK businesses must be protected. We have had up to 200 calls and threats to bring up to 40 caravans here. No caravans as yet and NO WAY are we paying anything.
  • ToolScam posted:

    on 16th April 2016, 13:36:08 - Reply

    They are now driving a white C220 Mercedes with registration plate being D 277 B (foreign plate).
  • George posted:

    on 15th April 2016, 11:08:50 - Reply

    They're here in Dewsbury 12 April 2016, in a silver Merc with a foreign number plate.
  • Bill posted:

    on 16th February 2016, 12:34:49 - Reply

    Hi we were caught out on the same day 12th feb, in Romford, but they had the newer merc. I think the best thing to do is to report it to the office of fair trading and the police. they go by the name of "Carlos Sharpening" at the moment!
  • ash posted:

    on 12th February 2016, 10:22:47 - Reply

    had them in yesterday in Dartford, demanding loads of money for the worn we had done, we never normally fool for thinks like this but it seemed convincing when they came back with a test piece, we never paid what they wanted just paid for them the same cost we normally pay for sharpening plus a small uplift to get rid of them, I was not in the office but spoke to him on the phone while he was in my office with my staff, he accepted this and left, I told him he had not given a quote and we had not given him an order, accept what I was giving him or he would get nothing, he accepted it and went, the sharpening seems ok, that's why we only paid., he drove an old green merc estate car with French plates.
  • Bob posted:

    on 7th January 2016, 17:26:28 - Reply

    They're scamming people all over the country. They tell you they'll do it in cm and then charge you in mm - either that or they'll measure it in a different way like circumference.

    If you dont pay they'll either keep the tools or make threats to bring their caravans to your premises. They'll also bombard your phonelines and mobiles if they can find them. They'll also visit your head office.

    They want it as a faster payment so then can take it as cash asap.

    All you can do is resist paying them, and deal with the harrasment - then report it to the police for that. Not much they'll do over the payments as they just see it as a business disagreement.

    You can also contact the bank you sent the money to and explain, they should be able to treat it as fraud.
  • tom posted:

    on 7th January 2016, 16:46:05 - Reply

    Hi Leigh,
    Not sure about you but my brother was told that the tools would be hardened and sharpened. This didn't happen. They spayed the blades with oil and made them look burnished. That is all.

    I gave the blade to Leitz tooling (who are very good) and they came back and said that they had ruined 15 of the teeth on a saw blade.

    I would reply to the solicitor suggesting that the service that was provided was sub standard.

    Hope it goes well.
  • LEIGH posted:

    on 7th January 2016, 14:08:05 - Reply

    we have been done from them back in Nov 2015 and now have a letter from solicitors representing them any advice please ?
  • Tom posted:

    on 21st December 2015, 15:55:46 - Reply

    Hi Jack and everyone else.
    Just to let people know that we have refused to pay them and it has been over a week now.

    They have only been down once so far with the threat that I "didn't want to cause any trouble" because " I couldn't afford trouble" with them.

    We are now getting 50 calls a day asking for the money but they haven't been back yet. They have said on the phone that they will be sending someone down though so who knows.

    They have also said that it might not be a good idea to lock up by myself. In case anyone else is in the same boat, nothing else has happened so far and it is more inconvenient than anything else. I have informed the police and they have taken it more seriously than I thought.
  • Jack posted:

    on 15th December 2015, 23:21:18 - Reply

    they where in maidstone (Kent) tool a load of drill bits and came back with a price of %uFFFD3500 there was one at first, then he came back with another then there was three of them, they turned up with two marks a new shame one and an older shape Mercedes two different regerstation plates from different countries.
    don't pay them threaten to call police or get interpol involved 14/12/2015
  • Jack posted:

    on 11th December 2015, 13:21:52 - Reply

    Got the blade back and sent them on their way saying I'd call him if I need anything knowing that the number was fake anyway
  • Chris posted:

    on 11th December 2015, 13:09:23 - Reply

    They tried it on with us but we didn't give in.They did sharpen tools but not to a high standard and scrapped a couple of drills.They did get quite vocal but we refused to budge and they left with no payment.Easy to fix don't let them on the premises,they are con men
  • Tom posted:

    on 14th December 2015, 16:08:12 - Reply

    In Kent now. My brother has just got done. Just wondering how things were resolved. Is it all show or do they actually become violent? Thanks

  • NW posted:

    on 9th December 2015, 08:35:29 - Reply

    Jack, they will demand more money, and charge over the top prices.
  • jack posted:

    on 7th December 2015, 17:42:36 - Reply

    in grays, essex, today ended up taking my sawblade and has yet to return
  • Tans posted:

    on 5th December 2015, 01:05:08 - Reply

    In Hertfordshire yesterday. Demanding money from me, do not get involved! Would love to hear from anyone else affected.
  • NW posted:

    on 7th December 2015, 13:55:35 - Reply

    they are in Royston (Herts), we are dealing with them, demanding more money after paying already, has any one been in this situation, how was it resolved?
  • GW posted:

    on 2nd December 2015, 12:28:38 - Reply

    They are currently in Harlow Essex
  • Jed posted:

    on 28th November 2015, 01:24:51 - Reply

    The group are now operating in East London and are 100% scammers with the audacity to threaten you into payments for samples that they have convinced employees into having done. These men and women will not receive a penny from me, even with the threat of violence. The police are very good and are proactive.
  • Pat posted:

    on 23rd October 2015, 18:54:52 - Reply

    They were in Exeter today silver merc and a little kid with 2 blokes.

  • James posted:

    on 20th October 2015, 19:07:30 - Reply

    They are in Norfolk today

  • Tim posted:

    on 14th October 2015, 17:02:04 - Reply

    Watch out they are now in Poole area of Dorset in blinged up Mercedes

  • Alan coles posted:

    on 18th September 2014, 00:35:44 - Reply

    They were in mid Cornwall Monday the 15/9/14 trying there luck. French reg car. First one bloke turns up then on return a second is with him.
  • Alexander posted:

    on 2nd July 2014, 15:01:07 - Reply

    In Laurencekirk area 1/7/14 and 2/7/14 reg no CJ 286 PW
  • andy burgess posted:

    on 30th June 2014, 18:51:57 - Reply

    They are now in Scotland got the French reg number of there car
  • ian jinks posted:

    on 1st October 2012, 21:08:38 - Reply

    I just got done by them. Got caught Off guard.
  • Mike Gore posted:

    on 11th April 2011, 17:20:26 - Reply

    They are now over here (England) trying it on. They came to my factory offering to sharpen tools