[I received this account of a Single Male Scam incident in May 2012. It is published here with the permission of the traveler, who wishes to remain anonymous. —TB]:
“I was recently looking up some info for an upcoming trip and came across the single male scam page. I will briefly recount my ‘Let’s have a drink’ story and then offer some suggestions.
“Back when I was a wee lad I had fallen prey to this scam. It was the usual strolling on Istiklal at night and the lure of hanging out and having fun drew me in. And it was the usual being boxed in by two women and subsequently a large man and receiving a huge bill.
“I am soft spoken but at the time also a cock-sure New Yorker and did not take well to any of this. My point being, while I was aware I was in danger and had to take my path wisely, I was not intmidated.
“I managed to slip all credit cards into my sock under the table during the fray. I still have no recollection as to how I managed that. I had $80 in cash and after much verbal abuse from both parties they accepted and let me go.
“I went straight to the police and brought them to the bar. The police took me into the bar office and I demanded my money back – and at my suggestion, less what an expensive version of a drink would be. Then I lectured them on abusing tourists and what horrible criminals they were. The police were VERY nice about it and treated my in a very motherly way, joking around and making me feel better. They also seemed happy to come with me, to spend a few minutes to see the lady dancers in the bar. It was a win-win.
“Here are my suggestions:
“I make the point about bringing the cops back to the bar because it not only helps the cops, but it shows the criminals that there are greater risks to the game and hopefully help to abate the problem. It does not seem as if any of the other victims did this.
“I am a night person, I LOVE Istanbul, and so as those two things intersect, I also intersect with these schemeing lads from time to time on the street. I have found one of the fastest ways to get rid of them is to say this one sentence, in a pleasent, laid back tone: ‘Oh, no, I don’t need a drink, I am out just enjoying some fresh air and taking a walk, I did not bring any money or my wallet with me.‘
” Firstly it does not let on that you are on to them and most importantly if you have no money, they evaporate miraculously. Even if they persist a bit, as in ‘lets to to your hotel and get your money,’ just say no or its far away. They will tire, you are not a valuable use of their time.
“So thats my bit.
“Keep up the good work!”
(Name withheld by request)