Classic Travel Scams #3: Getting Unlucky

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I had just arrived in Budapest and broke my own rule by looking at the map in public. Two hard-faced girls approached me and one asked if she could look at my map. She said they were trying to find a bar. They were obviously locals but she claimed they had just arrived from Germany. Her father was Hungarian, she said, (and I am sure he was) and had told her about the best bar to try to the local fruit brandy, pάlinka. She invited me to join them.

The story was implausible and her acting was rubbish. I saw it for the scam that it obviously was and walked off. But plenty of guys apparently fall for it. They go to a bar, have a few drinks, and get a massive bill from an equally massive bouncer.

There is a similar scam in Hanoi, where a local girl engineers a date with a tourist and, when they meet up, her boyfriend arrives with a gun and takes the tourist on an ATM tour. (Young guys pull the same trick on gay men.)

It doesn’t necessarily follow that anyone who hits on you abroad is out to scam you, but you have to be more cautious than your hormones would like. If it never happens to you in Hobart or Halifax, you need to ask yourself why it is happening in Hanoi.

(c) Richard Senior 2014

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