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!