Single Male robberies continue in Istanbul. I received this one in October 2015 showing that the criminals' modus operandi has now expanded to (a) drugging the victim and (b) threatening the victim with harm after the robbery has taken place.
Such threats can result in the victim's fleeing Turkey without making a police report or otherwise providing evidence to authorities (should they show any interest...).
Here is the victim's report:
Good day Tom.
I hope you do not mind me emailing you about my scam experience in Istanbul but I have just read your article on the single male scam and it is almost an exact script of what happened to me on the night of Thursday 8 Oct 2015. Although I was badly scammed I have almost taken comfort in knowing that others have experienced almost exactly the same and that I did not make up my story. I just feel the need to put into words what happened to me almost as a cathartic exercise.
I was approached in Istiklal Caddesi and asked in excellent English by a middle aged well dressed gent if I had a light for a cigarette. I said no and he replied that all Turkish people smoked to which I responded that I wasn’t Turkish. He struck up conversation and told me he was a Turk but living in Dubai and just on a business trip and staying in the Raddison Blu and was out just looking for a cup of coffee and a bite to eat to which I replied I was looking for the same.
We stopped at a very busy café and spent some time chatting. He asked if I had experienced a belly dance show, which I hadn’t, and he suggested going to the show at the Hilton Bosphorus. I told him I did not have much cash on me or a credit card so couldn’t have a big night out and he responded that it wouldn’t cost much.
I had by now been lulled into a false sense of security and agreed.
As the street was so congested with pedestrians he suggested we catch a taxi as it would be quicker. The taxi however took us to a VIP club away from the hustle and bustle where we were ushered into a booth and there were sexily clad women sitting around. At this stage I reminded my host (Barish) that I had no money and also told him that I was gay so this place was not my scene. He amicably responded that he had already ordered wine for us and that we would have a drink and leave. We were then joined by two ladies and Barish asked me to just make conversation with the one lady.
I believe at this point my drink was spiked [TB: drugged].
I had very little concept of time and I have very little recollection of events until I insisted we leave and was told I owed TL18000 (USD6000). Of course I did not have cash or credit cards.
I remember being bundled into a taxi with a thug and presumably was taken to my hotel to get my credit cards and then taken to an ATM. Records show that cash amounting to USD3000 was drawn at 02.45am on 09 Oct 2015. I have no recollection of events after that until I woke in my hotel room at 5.00pm that evening.
Somehow these scamsters got my mobile number and early on the Friday evening I started getting threatening WhatsApp messages from Barish saying I owed him money as he had paid my bill. He said if I did not meet him he would come to my hotel and it would be very ugly.
In fear and desperation I immediately checked out of my hotel and took a taxi to the airport and took the next available flight out of Turkey to home. I was paranoid and desperate to get out of the country and was too scared to even go to the police. However, the threatening messages continued when I got home saying that he would track me down and I would have big problems. I was told to transfer cash using Western Union. This I found very disturbing and intimidating but have rationalised that it is a scare tactic to create fear in an attempt to extort more cash from me.
I found Istanbul a captivating city and thoroughly enjoyed the days there prior to the incident. I personally will never go back even though I am now wiser, all be it also poorer, but would recommend people to visit the place but to have all tour arrangements pre-arranged with a reputable tour agent.
Thanks for a very informative website – I’m sorry I did not visit it before I took my trip to Turkey!