Here are two more variations on the Single Male Scam. The first shows how two male travelers can be scammed, the second shows a fearsome scam that can take place at the airport. I post them herewith the consent of the traveler who sent them to me, slightly edited for conciseness:
“I was looking through your site (which I’ve visited often) looking for information for a friend traveling to Diyarbakır, and came upon the “Let’s Have a Drink” scam page. I have traveled to Turkey around 12 times, both for work and travel, and there were two variations of the scam that I didn’t find that I think might be useful to mention:
“1.) I was walking around Taksim Square with a friend (both of us were American) when we were approached by two men. I had fallen victim to the scam in Oct. 2004, not having seen the information on your site, so I was a bit wary, but my friend was up for a good time and being that there were two of us and two of them, I let my guard down a bit. They took us to a bar very close to the square (I think near the McDonald’s (where the Havaş [airport bus] pickup is), or at least in that direction and it was the typical scene (except the place was packed). I asked, then insisted, on seeing a menu, but they refused saying they would order for us since we didn’t speak Turkish. As soon as the first beer arrived, two girls sat down, so I asked for the check, paid (20 lira per beer—which was much less than I expected) and we left (and were charged 5 lira for ‘coat check’!).
“The differences here were:
—There were two of us—and two of them
—The place was packed
—The place wasn’t down any side alley of Istiklal Cad.—which was my previous experience
“2.) The other scenario, happened to a man I used to work with. He flew into Istanbul from the US, and had a taksi driver approach him inside the airport and more or less insist on taking his bags/giving him a ride. At one point, he took the bags out of my friends hands and walked fast enough with them my friend was almost jogging to keep up. The bags were shut safely inside the trunk before my friend could launch any sort of reasoned protest. He had made several mistakes up to this point (obviously), and made another by getting in the cab with the guy.
“He showed him the address of the hotel he wanted to go to, and the driver started the meter and left the airport. Only, they didn’t go the hotel. Instead the driver stopped at a bar, like the one in the scams. He tried to get my friend to get out and go with him, and my friend eventually gave in (seeing as how he wasn’t going anywhere with his bags locked in the trunk). They went inside and the driver ordered the typical ‘champagne and fruit basket’-type spread.
“My friend, as as rule, didn’t drink. He just sat there, refused everything offered to him, ignored the women sitting beside him, and waited to go. The bill came out and my friend was expected to pay. They did the ‘backroom’ thing where he made his case—he didn’t eat, drink, or order anything. The response was, ‘You look like a reasonable man. I would hate to have to kill you.’ My friend reluctantly coughed up the $600 TL and left.
“The key difference here was, there was no “well dressed man,” but instead a taksi driver pulled the scam. Additionally, there was little room for my friend to consent or not. Obviously, he could have done a lot to avoid the situation, but the scam was a bit of a different flavored variety of the original and it was probably hard to envision a pushy airport taxi cab driver would have led to this scam.
“Anyway, just wanted to make sure I mention it, because of how awful it feels to get scammed. Use it as you’d like (except my name). AND thank you for all the awesome information you put out there.”