A SINISTER gang of con artists tricked two teenage holidaymakers into a “fake” ambulance before threatening them and demanding cash.
Friends Lauren Harmon and Natalie Jones, both 19, were enjoying the first drink of their week-long holiday in the Cypriot resort of Ayia Napa when Lauren suddenly collapsed.
Before they knew it, they were carted off in the back of a white van and were being quizzed about their flight details and asked for money.
Lauren, of Chestnut Avenue, Haydock, said: “After a day’s sunbathing we went to a bar which had promised us a deal on cocktails. It was our first drink of the night.
“There were a couple of people just hanging around, which we thought was a bit odd, and, all of a sudden, I started feeling a bit funny.
“Nat asked if I was alright but when I tried to stand up I collapsed. The next thing I knew I was on the ground and Nat was crying her eyes out.
“One of the men who had been loitering said he had called an ambulance and, within seconds, this old white van turned up with red writing on the side. I said I didn’t want to get in but they insisted and took me and Nat to this building in the middle of nowhere - there weren’t even any street lights.
“They wheeled me inside in a wheelchair, checked my blood pressure and said I was dehydrated and needed to go on a drip. When I refused they said it would wreck my holiday if I didn’t. The more I said ‘no’ the angrier they got.”
Lauren, who is studying early years childhood studies at Edge Hill, said one of the men - who claimed his name was Dr Simon Antonio - then repeatedly asked for her insurance details, passport and flight details.
She says he also threatened that if she didn’t return by 9am the following day he would send his security guards to hunt her down, and threatening that “it wouldn’t be pleasant”.
Lauren added: “I was scared but we managed to get away and he just said ‘good luck trying to enjoy your holiday’ and ‘you’ll be back to pay me a big amount of money’.
“The door jammed as we tried to get out and I was screaming. We managed to get out but a white transit van then started following us and trying to get to us. Luckily, we flagged a taxi down just in time and got back to our hotel.
“We packed our cases straight away and headed to the airport to catch the first flight back. Now I’m back home, I just want to warn other people that this gang is out there trying to take advantage of holidaymakers.”
Lauren reported the terrifying incident to the British Embassy but did not contact the Cypriot police because she was so keen to leave the country as quickly as possible.
A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed: “We are aware of an incident in Cyprus involving two British nationals on July 2 and we are providing consular assistance.”
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Weather for St Helens
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 10 C
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Temperature: 10 C to 16 C
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