Yet another single male tourist robbed on İstiklal Caddesi in Beyoğlu, Istanbul (January 2016), but this time the victim got some of his money back:
last week i became a victim of one of these night club robberies in istanbul, too. unfortunately, i didn't know your website before and i hadn't heard this would be such a common thing here. i even didn't realize i was scammed until the day after when i read all those similar stories on your website, i was thinking the clubs would be that expensive and that the guy who took me there had to pay even more than me.
i am particularily writing this to you because i managed to get half of the money back from the owner of the bar. if it is useful for your website you can share it, but please do not mention my name. if it's not, it was a good therapy for me writing everything down uite detailled!
part 1: how things happened:
it happened in mid january 2016. i was supposed to meet friends in taksim square but for some reason they cancelled in the last moment when i had already arrived there. so i randomly walked down isdiklal street which was very busy (saturday evening) while smoking a cigarette when this guy asked me for a lighter in turkish. i told him i didn't understand, and he pretended being very surprised i was not a turk (i really do not look turkish at all). he was a handsome and well dressed man, around 30 years, fluent in english and super friendly. he told that he was coming from ankara and working in dubai, and he didn't know istanbul very well. after some nice talk he asked me whether i would like to have a beer, i agreed. we went to one club situated in a basement, it looked like he just chose it randomly. while walking to the club he talked to someone on his phone which i later realized was probably someone from the club to tell them they would have some business soon.
i didn't really like the club but i was happy about his company. he ordered two beers and some peanuts, and after some time two girls from ukraine joined us. the one next to me was actually pretty and very friendly, the other one looked like crap. immediately the waiter would come and ask us if we want to offer the girls a drink. i actually didn't want because i knew i didn't carry a lot of cash money, but she was sweet and i didn't want to be the idiot. in the next hour, the girls would get some more drinks and my 'friend' would tell me that the turkish people would always drink their beer at the same speed. but he was drinking fast and i am not turkish, so i continued drinking slowly. this didn't change anything on the amount of the bill we received after one hour which showed 4600tl [about US$1,533—TB]
i didn't understand and thought i must have got the currency rate wrong. but this guy acted so normal, suggested to split the bill. i said i had not enough cash, so he asked to pay by visa. the waiter told us that their machine was not working and we should go with him to an atm one after the other. so they went and came back and then i went. i tried one atm, took the maximum (1500tl). by now i knew that my visa limit was exhausted since i paid for my hotel and flight before. but i tried one more time, pretending i didn't have any limit on my card so there must be a problem with the turkish bank. the waiter was very friendly and seemed to believe me, still we tried several other atms and he asked if i had another card. i indeed had another card with no money on it, so this one wouldn't work neither. he said we would find another deal, so we went back to the bar where he took his visa machine.
at this point i started seeing that something was not normal, as he told me just some minutes ago his machine would not work and now he came with one visa machine after the other to our table, trying to somehow get the money. but it still didn't work, the girls didn't give a fuck, and my 'friend' told me not to worry, he would pay and i should pay him back later with cash money from my hotel or raise my card limit. i agreed and we left the place. the girl gave me her number in order to meet altogether the other day, which made the situation more genuine for me again. i promised to my 'friend' that to meet him in sultanahmed two days later to hand him the remaining money i 'owed' him. i went back home and i was angry having spend so much money in one night, but i was still happy having met this group.
part 2: how i got part of my money back:
the day after, i didn't have a good feeling about all this, and check on the web if the night clubs in istanbul are always that expensive. that's when i read all the stories on your web site, which were so similar to what happened to me, so i desperately realized i was conned. i decided to go to the police since i either wanted my money back or confront these bastards with the police. i was way more worried about the fact that this seems to happen continuously in istanbul since more than 15 years and the police wouldn't do anything than about having lost my money.
the day after, i randomly bumped into the guy in eminönü, he asked me whether i got the money and wanted to come to an atm with me. i was indeed walking very fast before i bumped into him so i told him i was in a hurry to meet a friend, i would come back to this place in one hour and hand him over the money. of course this was a lie, and i went on straight to the police. BUT this guy, who had always been so friendly, now yelled after me that he would follow me. this really scared me and i started running, watching my back every 10 seconds. i went to the police station in sirkici, but the man told me i had to go to taksim police station since it all happened in taksim. he didn't care about the guy following me, which was my main fear in the meantime.
so i went to taksim police station, which was not so easy to find. once i arrived there, nobody spoke english, except that one cop who told me in good enlish that he couldn't speak english and left. but i didn't leave, at least i felt secure in the police station. after some time, one guy would give me a numer of a "translator", whom i met some hours later at the police station. this guy was really caring about me and spoke fluent english and turkish.
i explained my situation, and the funny part was that i could remember neither the name of the club, nor were it was. i could only tell him it was in a basement, and there were two ukrainian girls involved. he eventually knew what i was talking about, and took me straight to the club, telling me not to worry. we entered the club, i was shaking because they closed the door behind us. they told me not to worry and offered me some tea for free. the translator asked me how much i paid and why i did this. i told him i was stupid, which he denied and said he could understand this happened the first time in istanbul. he told me "welcome to hell, never trust people in istanbul", to which i had to laugh because i was actually trusting him. then the manager arrived and asked me which amount of money i would like to get back from him. i first wanted the full amount, but he told me this wouldn't be possible since i spent 2 hours in the club and also consumed, which was ......... true. he agreed on giving me half of the money back, which he then did with two buddies filming the scene as a proof. he kept on telling me that he felt sorry for me and wanted to help me out, which was obviously not true. he obviously paid me because i came back to the bar with a guy who was close to the police and because i was a potential threat for him and his business which is on the edge of being legal. then the translator asked me if i was tired, i said yes, so he said i should go back to my hotel and sleep now... making sure i would not turn back to the police and cause some more trouble for the manager... although he was very friendly and he helped me a lot, he was a corriupt pig: he accompanied me to the taksim metro station, where comes the best part: he asks me in the middle of taksim square if i would like to bribe him. i told him i could give him 10tl maximum which he wouldn't accept and walk away.
at least i was lucky enough to not loose all 1500 liras (500$) but only half of it. plus i got another story to tell and i was taught a huge lesson: never ever trust locals again.. never follow them into a bar of their choice.... and always look at the prices before you or someone else orders drinks for you... if someone should be as unlucky as me and be conned in istanbul, i can not guarantee he will get his money back asking this translator, but he should definitely give it a try. the guy told me that this is his 'every day mission'... now
i feel a bit more secure again, but still i will be very happy when i leave istanbul tomorrow. the city itself was beautiful, but i just couldn't enjoy it anymore after all this happened.
thanks for your attention,
it feels indeed very good writing all this crazy experience down...
[Name withheld by request]