How it works:
- Situation: this is a common scam in Eastern Europe, where bar owners, bar girls, employees and sometimes even police officers are involved.
- Opening: a stranger asks if you have a lighter or ask for directions. He/she then asks if you would like to grab a drink together. If you accept, you will be brought to a “highly recommended” bar.
- Set-up: there, girls will join and drink on your tab. When the bill comes, it can be as high as 1,000 USD. If you do not have enough cash, you will be escorted to an ATM by a group of hooligans.
Places to beware:
- Istanbul: Taksim square, Topkapi Palace, Istiklal Street, Sultanahmet District, Beyoglu
- Van: Cumhuriyet Caddesi
What to do:
- Avoid: heading to a suggested bar together with a random stranger.
- If not, consider: does the bar seem legitimate? Are there customers? Is the stranger evasive about things? Is he/she only bringing you to a particular bar?
- Test your new “friend”: pretend you have company by suggesting to go another place where you have friends at. Ask for prices before ordering. Take a photo together.
- If scammed: pay with a credit card but call the bank to dispute the charges immediately. Keep a separate bank account with not much cash inside to limit your losses if threatened. Make a police report.
- Alternative: GetYourGuide (best day tour platform in Europe) has a pub crawl.