When they called my name, things got quiet. I was the manager of the room; people wanted to see how I would react. As I walked over to retrieve my letter, my cellphone went off. The theme from The Godfather my new ringtone filled the room. People couldn't help but laugh. The next thing I knew, a postal inspector took me into a side room and told me, "Your day just got shitty, and it is going to get shittier. That was the end of my last scam. The Feds sent a dozen guys to prison.
I did 37 months, and it probably should have been longer. You might be thinking, "Oh, those get-rich-quick scams are obvious, and I would never fall for one. You would be amazed at how many doctors, lawyers, engineers and college professors I ripped off. The bottom line is, fraud is a crime that can happen to anyone, given the right con man and a victim with the right set of circumstances.
Make no mistake: I am a dangerous person on the telephone. If I choose to be fraudulent in my practices, nothing is going to stop me from taking lots of money from you. Period, the end. And the world is filled with people just as dangerous as I am. I was what's known as a closer: the guy who gets you to hand over the money. I'll tell you how, so you can recognize and avoid the techniques I used. I can do this because I am out of the game now. If I were still in the game, I'd tell you only one thing: "You and I are going to make a lot of money together. I learned how to do this at an early age.
I've got a natural ability to talk people into things. Growing up in Brooklyn in the s, people called me Fonzie; they would say, "Hey, Fonzie, that mouth of yours is gonna make you a million dollars someday. In my neighborhood, families lived on my street, giving me a lot of parents to manipulate. You learned what works. I played the heartstrings; I intimidated; I made people feel bad for me. Whether it was manipulating my three older sisters or convincing the neighbor lady that I needed one more ice-cream bar from the Mister Softee truck, I always knew what to say.
And as I got older, I got better. In , I got a chance to apply these gifts of persuasion in the workplace. I went to work for a Florida company that sold prepaid-calling-card vending machines. At first I thought it was a real job. But it seemed like a lot of customers were calling back to complain.
In fact, they all called back to complain. Believe it or not, for a long time I thought every business was like this. Gradually, it dawned on me that this was the dark side of corporate America. I first tried heroin when I was 22, and became instantly addicted. For the next 15 years I would move in and out of rehab centers and in and out of fraud boiler rooms.
Drug addiction gave me the two characteristics all scam operators want in a closer: selfishness and greed. If you are strung out and in need of a fix, you will do anything to feed your habit. This may explain why the owners of many of these scam operations in South Florida recruited their boiler room staff at local Narcotics Anonymous meetings.
Who's a better talker than an addict? Who is more manipulative than an addict?
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Who is more desperate for money than an addict? Addicts hustle; that's what we do. So you couple that with my experience selling over the phone in Florida and you have the perfect storm. I'm a hustler from New York and an addict. These boiler rooms were dying to hire me.
This was lesson number one: Assume a false personality or social mask that makes it easier to pull off the deception. Swindling is really acting, and you play a character who will help you appear legitimate, confident and successful … even when you are not. I've trained hundreds of salesmen who worked in scam boiler rooms. And I always told them to picture themselves with the big sprawling office, sitting behind the mahogany desk, with the family portrait on the credenza. Your autographed football and jerseys are hanging on the wall, along with awards and several pictures of you posing with famous actors.
The pool table is across the room on the left-hand side. You are this bigwig whom everybody wants to talk to. The idea is to build up confidence, so that when you ask for the money you won't show one lick of fear or hesitation or doubt that this isn't, hands down, absolutely the greatest decision this client is making for his or her family and future. The persona explains how a barrel of dented-can drug addicts can persuade successful businesspeople to write big checks without reading the paperwork.
On the outside you will see nothing but charm, an engaging personality and swagger. On the inside lies a predator. There is no conscience in this business. It's every man for himself, and the goal is to acquire as much money as possible. The business needs to have a persona, too, to look legitimate and trustworthy. So we'd run television commercials and hire famous actors to appear in them. The first day we ran that ad, it generated more than 10, phone calls.
I guess people see an Adam West or an Ernest Borgnine we also hired him on TV and assume the product he's selling is the real deal or he wouldn't be selling it. But the celebrity's contract frequently states that he or she cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of the claims in the script. The celebrity probably doesn't know that people are getting ripped off; he may know nothing at all about the business. He just comes in, reads his part and leaves. Think about the first time you fell in love or a time when someone cut you off on the freeway and you were seething for hours.
Were you thinking clearly? Probably not. Those who believe they'd never fall for a scam don't realize it's not about how smart you are; it's about how well you control your emotions. Fraud victims are people with emotional needs, just like the rest of us. The more likes and shares you get on a post, the higher your post and profile are ranked — this results in being exposed to even more users.
Of course, pages like this are against Facebook rules and if found out or reported the pages are immediately removed. So, who is there to report these pages? Only those who know what this is all about. I am hoping that by reading this article, you will be one of those people. Facebook users are mostly unaware that not only are they personally feeding into these money spinners, but they are spreading it around for the scammer, too. These scammers are sitting back and letting YOU do all the leg work for them while they line their pockets with your well wishes.
Athens: In an outdoor cafe, two gentlemen sat at the table directly next to us, even though there were loads of empty tables. My purse was on the back of my chair, but covered by my coat. The men were there for the duration of our meal — never ordered anything, but chatted with the waiters a lot. Luckily I noticed! I gave him a good stare down and moved my purse onto my lap. He and his mate quickly got up and left. Many cities, all over Europe: You pre-book a room online with a certain price — you get a confirmation code and everything. When you arrive, they tell you that that room is no longer available and they will have to put you in a different room — with a different higher!
Always either print this info or have it available on your phone. Immediate target! Switching bank notes, happened to me in Mexico and in India. You give a note, with a flick of the hand they change it to another one, saying you gave a smaller amount. And then give you change for that smaller amount.
Oh Mexico service stations are notorious about scams. They forget to clear the pump so we once paid more than our VW tank would hold. And once I was told I gave them only A friend got it just last season, short changed. Once I was in a mini mart buying water and a coke. I know that often they do. It have change for larger bills so I showed her a peso bill and asked if she had change. She said yes. Than she promptly gave me change for pesos. I called her on it, there were a lot of people watching. She angerily gave me the rest of my change.
Some random guy walked up to me and my boyfriend claiming her knew where we got our shoes from. Uh, okay. Then minutes later after thinking about it, I realized we just got swindled. I should have said more, but I was so flustered and slightly nervous that that was all I managed to get out. I stupidly told him I hadnt already booked transport. He also tried to take me into one of the fake visa offices to buy a visa at double price but I told him I knew it was a scam.
At Angkor Thom I had the string bracelet scam forced upon me but I didnt mind. It makes a nice souvenir. Also the taxi meter going up like crazy scam in Krakow, Poland. Had a guy approach me wearing a turban — avoid these dudes on Khao San Rd, Bangkok. He looked a little baffled and just walked off. This scam involves them telling you they can tell your fortune etc — they take you off to a room where you write down answers to questions they ask — its long winded but basically if you are approached by a fortune teller wearing a turban — walk away.. My boots needed it, so we settled on a price.
After polishing up one boot, the kid asked me if I wanted the other done — for another payment of the agreed price. I was tired, so I went home early for the night. My buddies went to a strip club where the strippers asked them to buy them a drink. Who knows what would have happened if they had non-sufficient funds?!? A taxi driver in Athens this past summer insisted the route he was driving us was correct when in fact he was taking us in the opposite direction of where we wanted to go.
He suggested additional stops we should make. We insisted he pull over so we could walk instead. Instead of hailing a cab on the street, I highly recommend using an app called Taxibeat instead. Each time, we got into a very clean taxi, with polite, friendly and intelligent drivers, and the fares were correct and honest. When I was in Bangkok in front of a temple a woman came over and said today is a holiday here in Thailand. You should go and see the Emerald buddah, it is very beautiful and is right for this special day. She than negotiated a cheap round trip ride with a tuk tuk driver and I was off.
I got to the Emerald buddah, which was very small and there was a man seated at a card table. He motioned for me to sit. Than he said he could get me cheap Emerald and Ruby rings. I told the tuk tuk driver to take me back but first he said he could take me to a good tailor shop. Again I said no and fortunately he returned me to where we had started out. Fortunately I was smart enough not to fall for the obvious scam. Leaving main train station in Rome when someone poured something on the back of my jacket. Smelling a rat I quickly escaped before they picked my pocket.
Was followed to my hotel but no damage done. In Cambodia — we had a lovely young man tell us he was from the local University and got talking to us as we went around our first temple, shortly after arriving from Thailand I was stupid enough to tell him it was my first day there. He was telling us a lot of information about the history and acting as an informal tour guide of sorts. In the end we literally said, take it or leave it, and he left it in the end as there were a few people starting to get closer.
But it was definitely a lesson learned! Great lessons Matt! My two sisters and I went to Costa Rica for two weeks this summer and had pretty good treatment by the local cab drivers, etc. But, got the wrong change at one toll booth. One scam to watch for, is tour guides. Be sure they are licensed tourist guides and have their badge to prove it. We had great guides in Monteverde and for a mangrove tour outside of Quepos. But, a guide tried to scam us in Manual Antonio. A guide approached us, we agreed to a price and then met up with him and several other English speaking tourists for the tour.
Then the guide suddenly switched. But, then at the end of the tour he asked for payment. When we explained that we had paid the first guy, he said oh no, you were supposed to pay me. Fortunately we just said so sorry, we have no more money and walked away from him. He finally gave up and walked away in disgust. I still have the ring in my jacket pocket, a reminder to always be aware of scammers. This happened in the Aleppo Souk which, sadly, is no longer there, but it was a good warning.
It was a Saturday so the place was fairly deserted. I was a newly arrived older female and lost not unusual so asked a man for directions. He said he would show me where I wanted to go, and when I walked with him down a fairly empty alley he started to expose himself. A good lesson learned. I rented a Volkswagen Beetle that looked like it had been in an assortment of accidents. As he was about to talk, he looked at the rental form for the first time, apparently and physically shook, like he was have a small epileptic episode, when he saw that I had circled virtually the entire car on the form before I left with it.
I always regretted not getting it on video, because it was pretty hilarious. I had hoped to have a good pick-pocketing experience to share, but no one cooperated. For almost two years, I carried a plastic wallet in my back pocket, filled with enough credit cards to make it noticeable. The cards were from the frequent mailings that tried to get you to sign up for a card, so they were all made out to Your Name in Anytown, USA.
I was sure I would have a story after a few weeks in crowded touristy areas in Italy at least, but I finally gave up and just threw it away. Just wanted to add that last part in case someone reading all these posts was starting to have any second thoughts about exploring a new locale. I also recorded all the dents, a crack in the windshield etc, on my phone before driving away and noted all the pre-existing damage on their rental agreement. I worked out beforehand what I should get back including the leftover Turkish Lira. The person in booth gave back more Turkish money than I expected plus 2 notes the same colour as the Euro 10 and 5.
And the only hotel around was, coincidentally, the one right in front of us. Instead of arguing with them, I just said how sorry I was that the driver was losing his occupation since his taxi licence was going to be revoked. While I was telling them that, I was copying down his name and licence number from the licence posted behind the driver. Overcharging and dual pricing is common—you agreed to it, the thinking goes—but more overt types of theft like purse-snatching and pick pocketing are rare.
Casa de Cambio scam at Mexico City Airport. Last May, when returning back to London I changed pesos to pound sterling at the money changer at the 2nd-floor departures area. I told the lady the amount in Spanish and she counted it but said nothing. She gave me the pounds and the receipt but it was a receipt for Pesos changed. After arguing with her for 5 mins. She then told me that the cashier had done the exchange correctly and that I was wrong. They are running this scam together.
Please be aware. I was once traveling on the metro in Paris with my boyfriend, when a group of young girls descended on him and picked his pocket. Luckily he did not have any cash in his wallet at the time, or it might not have been returned for the reward. Barcelona — we were driving our van english plates and stopped at the traffic lights. I jump out to say thanks and as quick as a flash, someone runs around, opens my passenger door, grabs my handbag and they all run off. In the morning at the police station, there were 8 tourists who had been pickpocketed the night before. We heard loads of stories there, when at a petrol station, make sure you lock your door when you go into pay etc Common sense I suppose, but easily forgotten.
One day i was in milan attending football match there was guy he told me to wear someting like Hand necklace but i sad no thanks, then he took my hand and put on and asking me for money because i just bought and there is no return and i have to PAY right now likely for me there was like cops near me and i told him rather take it off or i will scream for the cops help, he finally take it off. The fake petition It actually happened to me in Paris exactly on Eiffel tower by two young girls i dont thing that they are older then 17 it was like my first day traveling out of the country and never been scamed before, asking to sign for helping refugees children after that asked me for moeny thought i will going to give them like 2 euro but they took 20 euro and runs away.
In Italy, a pretty common thing is the train ticket punch. The main rail company there requires you to validate your ticket, even though it has been bought, before you board the train. Just another layer to the bureaucracy, I guess. I was offered twice, once by a man too lazy to get off his bench and approach me, another by a woman who spoke with such a thick accent that I asked her to speak Italian and then disappointed her when I told her I already had validated my ticket.
That was in Florence. I saw it in Rome, and went out of my way to warn some of the travelers I saw that they needed to punch their ticket for validation. Also had some women in Granada try the rosemary thing. They were so aggressive they scratched my arm gave them nothing. Had someone twice try to take a ring of my off my finger in Milan — no luck for them. And the ring thing in Paris — must have been about four or five times that happened to me over there.
Good warnings. One to add is to note the amount and bills you put into room safe and check amount each time you return. You put in say 5 Hundreds and 15 twenties. While out someone swipes 1 of the hundreds or a few twenties. Later on you trip you feel like you are going through your money too fast, but that happens on vacation right? If I use the safe I have started putting a post it with the count of bills on top of cash.
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Also need to review when returning and let hotel know asap if issue. Great entertainment. Our hotel warned us of this one and had many people approach us with this. Great article Matt, information new travelers should know. First the taxi drivers argue about the price when you ask how much the fare will be when you know how much it should be then others with join in and offer to take you for cheaper.
Sadly my last memory of Bali was the taxi driver who overcharged me on my ride to the airport. I did not notice but he may have had his meter running before he picked me up as the price was more than it should have been. I had used the same company with no issues four or five times before this ride.
Giving money to street kids
I knew the meter was higher than it should have been but I did not want to get off in the middle of nowhere. I confronted him but he knew I had little recourse. I did get his name and later reported him to his company. The spa manager who called the taxi from the most reputable company also filed a complaint.
In Paris I had a different attempted scam. A well dressed Italian guy in a car claimed he was from Milan and in Paris for fashion week. Could I help him find a petrol station? Our scam experience happened in New York City. Waiting to cross the avenue, when the light changed a yr old girl pretended to twist her ankle coming off the curb, sending her cell phone flying and feinting pain. Noting the wrong responses we also noticed two other encroaching youth bringing her phone and asking if she was okay, getting too close. I whipped out my phone and was dialing telling her she needed medical assistance because her ankle was broken and my partner kept the others at bay.
With her eyes as round as saucers she assured us she was okay and sprinted off down the street with her entourage. We laughed so hard…but were also prepared. All cash, cc were secured in our inside zippered pockets. A few I managed to avoid, both in Mexico, my friends military and I went into a strip joint looking for another friend who had gotten lost. Girl 1 in front of me takes my hands and puts them on her chest and begins to lead me to a table or booth. Girl 2 behind me puts one hand on me in an area that would be covered by a bathing suit and the other hand is looking for my wallet.
I had less to drink than the others so I picked up on the scam right about when she had the zippered pocket where my wallet was about halfway open. Another night of mostly trouble in Tijuana was almost done and we were headed back to San Diego. I noticed a commotion just ahead of us and when the crowd thinned enough for me to see the problem, a man with a serious head injury lying in a pool of blood, based on the unnatural shape of his head I was pretty sure he was dead or close to it.
Right about when I realized this a policeman began grabbing everyone in the area. We backtracked a few blocks and then took another route to the border. In Beijing we had a young man come up to us to ask us to take his picture, with a very cheap camera, then he of course offered to reciprocate with our expensive DSLR with fancy lens. My wife almost handed him the camera, but I stopped her. He was very disappointed Every taxi driver in Beijing tried to cheat us, too. Then in Rome a man guessed I was from Argentina and tried to put me a bracelet but I walked away.
The ones in the front tried to distract us while the others tried pickpocketing or open our bags. Luckily I saw that and took my sister and I away before anything happened. We went to his store, which was down a back alley and there was no one else there. He gave me tea and let me look at the paintings. Looking back, he was very nice but I feel lucky that nothing worse happened to me, as I went off with him alone as a 22 year old female.
In Palma Majorca we had people try to put 1 pennies flowers into our pockets and look for my wallet at the same time. Sadly, later that day while fighting the crush the get on a bus they got me. Luckily it was just a small amount of cash but still annoying and I had to spend the next hour in a police station while they very slowly filled in a report I could hand to my travel insurer.
I just want to thank everyone who left a comment. This is now a great list of scams from around the world that will help a lot of future travelers! Thank you! In Chiang Mai, I asked my hotel to call a taxi. When I said no, he then offered to take me to a jewelry shop. Again, I said no. Lesson learned: always take a licensed taxi or Uber. In Lisbon, Portugal, my friends and I were sitting at a table outside a restaurant, and this guy came up to us off the street with a map in his hand.
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He tried to ask us for directions, putting the map on our table for him to point at. At this point, the restaurant staff came over and chased him away. Pretty clever idea to be honest, and we got lucky. We actually went back to the same restaurant a few times and we saw him again! Luckily we were right next to the hotel so the lovely door man comes out and scares her off.
Another scam- In India, a woman with a baby comes up to you looking to buy milk for her baby. Little do you know that she goes to another store and sells the unopened milk, to buy something else — not to help the child at all. We had a local guide that shared this scam — a common problem in India. The most common scam in China besides the taxi drivers and other stuff mentioned above is the Tea Ceremony scam.
Basically, a group of young Chinese who speak good English usually claiming to be art students will approach you at a popular tourist site and ask you to help them take a group photo. They then take you to a tea shop, where you will be invited to sit down and taste some different teas while the host goes through the ceremony.
Then the students will disappear and the bill of several thousand yuan will be brought to you, and they will lock the door or threaten you to pay. When I was just out of college I was visiting Athens and walked by a restaurant, and a gentleman stopped me and introduced himself as the owner. He welcomed me to Athens and asked where I was from.
Could I buy you a beer and perhaps you could buy her a drink and tell her places to visit? She was very charming, but I eventually told her I suspected it was a scam. The other scam was in New York at the 42nd St air terminal I hired a taxi driver to take me to my hotel. He took my bags to go to his cab but then walked in to my hotel to my surprise. He suddenly got nervous and asked how much I had in cash. I was okay with it, as he carried my bags and knew where the hotel was. People around were just smiling, cuz everyone knew that it was a scam.
Managed to give back the bracelet and go my way, but the evening was messed up. Taxi scam is everywhere. No matter you are a tourist or not if you take a taxi from the airport — be ready to pay a rip off price. Another thing to look out for is the prices in the restaurants. Most of the time the prices are the same as they are on the menu, but instead of 2 beers you have ordered, they entered 4. So always double check your receipt. Plus do not go to the tourist ready restaurants — they charge you x times the prices just because you are a tourist. My buddy and I had been approached — or propositioned — by at least three women in the same bar on our first night!
I have also fallen victim to the popular cabbie scam where they take you on a longer route than necessary in Montreal and Paris. Almost had another cabbie nearly scam earlier this year in Fort Worth when he tried taking me on the freeway to Dallas instead of my hotel, which was only about 10 — 15 minutes away. I yelled at the guy for trying to scam me and just walked out before he got onto the on ramp.
Be careful, because the church itself is beutiful and the view is spectacular. Definitely still worth it just be weary! Really useful article. I ignore it and keep walking but this guy starts mumbling and hands me a bunch of tissues. I thought he was being helpful so I put down my big backpack and stupidly hand him my small daypack which I had in front of me his hand was outstretched , thinking he was going to mind it for me. Obviously while I was distracted with cleaning my other bag, he ran off with my daypack. Thankfully I had already left my passport at the hostel but I had my credit card and cash in the stolen bag.
The van was meant to drop us off at our accommodation. I thought it was weird that some local Vietnamese climbed into the van as well they looked like touts. They dropped me off at the wrong hostel and insisted that it was the right one. This wrong hostel wanted to charge me more than USD1 for a local call but I refused. Thankfully my actual hostel was walking distance from where I was and still managed to find it even though I had no idea of the area and it was late at night. I say I live in Dubai and he says he used to work there. He offers to take me to the shop and hails a tuk-tuk which we both ride on.
She and her friend were watching some entertainers and there was a large crowd. They then found out that both their bags got slashed and their wallets taken. A local guy then approached them feigning concern and even took them to a bar and he paid for their drinks. My friend said afterwards she had a feeling that maybe he was part of the scam. In Madrid, I found it to be relatively scam-free but I did encounter a guy trying to give small tissue packs for money and he was very aggressive about it.
Also, it is commonplace there for people to ask you for a cigarette if they see you smoking. Most people just genuinely want a smoke, but one man got kind of weird touchy-feely with me and I think he was trying to pick my pockets. I immediately checked for all my important belongings. Luckily I had everything on lockdown. I felt pretty lucky and also dumb afterwards. Just experienced the Tannery Scam in Marrakech a few days ago. Have also heard that this happens throughout Morocco.
After about 10 minutes of wandering, we started to catch on. Once he led us to the entrance to the tannery, a man immediately came up and offered to take us on a tour of the tannery, which we declined. Here in Goa and just last month I got sucked in. Id been interested in and wanted to potentially purchase some Ayurvedic remedies. They did look nice though! But once all in one pot for me it just looked like dirt!
It was supposedly four months worth and id feel worse before I felt superhuman? My partner came back and his eyes were very strange-they kept rolling for some weird reason. I ended up giving? We now have to scooter the long way round to the barbers now!! One day I walked on the street and a nice polite girl came to me, first just to talk with me. Not flirting exactly, but talking about our countries, our cultures and traditions. So I followed her and she took me to a small hidden teahouse somewhere behind the main crowded streets.
When it finished, the bill was around yuan, which was almost USD. I was very happy to joke with them and finally to tell them bye bye. If we could only reduce the travel scams to 14 the world would be awesome. Thanks for the post! I was in Paris a Long time s go, for a few dsys. I was walking to the Eiffel Tower, when a middle aged woman asked me, if I would like her to take my picture. I was hesitant at 1st. So as soon as she did, she of course asked me for money.
Never again!! While on an extended holiday in Spain and Portugal years ago with my daughter and her three and a half year old son and two year old daughter we had no problems with scam artists. I think it was because of how un-touristy and ordinary we looked. Just a grandma out for a stroll with her daughter and grandchildren. I know enough Spanish and Portuguese to get by The children attracted a lot of attention guapo, guapo! Even when it was obvious that we could use some direction, people were kind and helpful. Political Incorrectness Alert: We are also not overweight with fat rolls hanging over our waist bands.
Sorry for the bluntness, folks, but this is an epidemic in the US of A! Twice in Paris. Politely declined, but one of them shoved me when I resisted the temptation to pitch the ring into the Seine and threw it on the ground instead. The instant I began to respond in rapid French, the young lady turned abruptly away and sought another victim. Rainy night in Rome. Mostly, though, in spite of all the dire warnings, my travels have been a delightful introduction to other peoples, traditions and languages.
Most people are friendly and eager to help a stranger who is polite and respects their culture. My spidey senses went off and told him no I was not interested and we quickly left the area. Walking across the bridge to the Eiffel Tower later on that day, a girl does the same thing to us. We said we speak English and she flips over the cardboard sign to show English writing explaining that she needed funds to send to her family.
We had just gotten off the flight and were exhausted so of course we looked like great targets. A gentleman saw what was happening and came over and told the lady to leave us alone, and kindly took us to our Hotel a few shops away. We were grateful to this man. This was just one day in Paris! Downtown Vancouver a good looking young man can running up to us all out of breathe and saying that his passport and wallet had just been stolen. We wished him a good day and left.
They will quickly drop the issue and move on. I have the Embassy number saved in my phone, just in case!