Scam Alert – Moscow

Another week begins, and today’s post is talking about a scam I experienced in Moscow. I think I’m pretty decent at picking up when I’m entering a scam situation  -from Cairns to India I’ve avoided a few, fallen for one. And now I’ve fallen for two, and the second was in Moscow earlier this year.

The Russian capital is an amazing, brilliant and stunning city. But don’t take everything for granted. In any big city you can be done if you’re mind’s not quite on the ball.

For me I made a big effort to get into the Kremlin in the morning only to find that it is closed on Thursday. So I made my way by foot to Red Square to see Mr Lenin, preserved for visitors in his own mausoleum.

As I walked along I was approached by three women in fancy dress. Like really fancy dress, like they were in a major theatre performance or something. The sort of costumes you need to go to a costume hire place to find.

I had my camera out, so yes, I looked like a sucker tourist. And in fact, I was a sucker tourist. They wanted to take photos with me. Hmmmm. They looked professional. I thought it might be a promotional sort of thing. But yet I still suspected that maybe it wasn’t 100% genuine. I let them have my phone, not my Nikon. My real fear was that they would run away with it.

But they didn’t and I thought it would make for an interesting selection of photos. Snap! Snap! A few poses. They had my phone. A guy turned up and he took a few photos too. And then it was pay them 1000 rubles. Each! It was their job! So they said. Hmmm. $20 for five minutes work. Not bad. But luckily I didn’t have that much money = in my wallet.

I had 1000 rubles and a few aussie dollars. And I regret I gave them that. They argued for more at first but eventually gave me my phone back and were busy checking the exchange rate on their phones. I walked off quickly whilst they did.


The photo guy had printed out a couple of photos and walked by me asking for 2000 rubles. I gave him 40. Surprisingly, after actually pleading with me for more, he took it and gave me the two photos. I almost felt sorry for him. I don’t know if he was part of the scam or sort of catching the coat tails of the girls trying to make money on his own.


So there you are. I’m a sucker. And I paid up simply because I wanted to situation resolved. Such is life. So to anyone travelling in Moscow – beware women in costumes! And of course, May the Journey Never End!

15 thoughts on “Scam Alert – Moscow

  1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

    Oh thanks for this tip Andy. Timing for this warning couldn’t be better just a week before I’ll be there myself!

  2. They have something like this in Thailand too, I remember reading about it. I guess there’s always going to be people who try to take advantage of tourists.

  3. Oh, thank goodness I snapped some similarly fancy people from behind when I was in St Petersburg! They never knew it, and I never had to pose with them or pay. Win-win.

  4. Julie

    Andy this happened to my husband today! He lost 1200 rubles! :(. I googled and found your article. Same woman! I compared photos. She’s still doing it.

  5. Julie

    I missed a 0…I meant to say 12000 rubles not 1200. My son has just married a Russian girl and she was having none of it and went to the police station by Red square today with all the evidence including your blog here. The police picked up the gang and made them give back the money. We couldn’t believe it! Thanks for writing it down Andy. You helped us get our money back! 🙂

  6. Pingback: Essential Travel Tips for Destination Russia! – Andy's World Journeys

  7. Pingback: Touts, Hassle and Hustlers – Dealing with travel’s ‘Sticky Moments’ – Andy's World Journeys

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.