I have been discussing various ways in which people are scammed, did i ever mention that i was once scammed?? A scam that ripped me off 100 Bucks in a more public place, The Railway Station. It was about 5 years back, I was in class XII then.. My family was out of station for somebody’s marraige, I had to stay back at home for classes that i had to attend before my examinations. It was Saturday! After having spent half day at school, I had to cancel a few railway tickets that my father had booked earlier. There was about 2 hours to the class and i had enough time to get back.
The place as expected was crowded. I got the tickets canceled, walked out of the reservation office. The cancellation refund was about Rs.1500. Here is where the real experience begins. Introducing Mr. Ajit Joshi (Name Changed.. 😛 .. Actually I don’t remember the name). A ‘Mumbai‘kar, Neatly dressed, a tall and good looking gentleman.
“Do u speak Hindi??” He asked
“Haan (Yes)” I replied.
The whole conversation was in Hindi, I’ll be using english to narrate the incident for not having to translate it later.
“I need help, I’m a in a really bad situation and I’m new to Chennai”
“Yes, Tell me.. What can i help u with??”
“This is my first visit to chennai, I’m Ajit from Mumbai.. I’m supposed to take a train to Kanya Kumari.. So can u help with the information ??”
“I’m sorry, I don’t know about that.. U can ask it at the enquiry counter..”
“They all speak Tamil,I don’t understand Tamil, It’s a wierd language??”
“Haha.. Ok, Lets go..” (Atiti Devo Bhavo – Guest is the god) I wish i had not known this before.
We went to the nearest enquiry counter and enquired about the train. He asked a few questions, I translated everything.
“I have to leave now, I have a class to attend in half hour.”
“Thanks for that, one more favour?”
“Yes, What is it? Lets finish it fast.”
“This is really a wierd situation.. While travelling from Mumbai to Chennai, Somebody stole all my luggage.. The ticket to kanya Kumari, the money was in the bag.. I don’t even have any ID left with me.. Nothing to Identify me as Ajit Joshi.. If u don’t mind can u lend me some money? I will Send it back to u as soon as i reach my relatives house in KanyaKumari.. Please.. U r the only person i know here”
“I’m sorry, I don’t have any money..” (How can i trust him?)
Ajit then put his arm around my shoulder. Like a elder brother he explained the problem.. Almost weeping.
“U can give me ur address, I swear on my mother that i will return the money as soon as i reach KanyaKumari. Please look into ur pockets. There must be something.”
“No. I don’t have the money. I have to pay my fees, I have no extra cash.”
“Please, Please.. U r the only person i know in Chennai, I assure u i will return the money.. Trust me.. I’ll send u the money as soon as i get there..”
“He is good looking, a gentle man, swearing on the mother’s name. Asking for the phone Number, the Address. May be he really needs the money.” I said to myself. I was convinced as I pulled out a 100 rupee note and handed it to him.
“Thank you. I appreciate ur kindness, but i want more as u know.” may be making a last attempt to getting more money.
“I’m sorry that’s all i have. I need to pay the Tution fees. U can enquire about the bus fare, may be that’s cheap” He knew by now that i would not hand him anymore money.
“Thanks Kunal, I appreciate it. I will send u the money in three days time. But can u help me get some money or help from somebody else here. U know i have a language problem.”
“No. I have to go now. I’m in a real hurry. Bye”
“Bye, and Thanks. I will send u the money soon.”
I returned home, attended the class. A week passed by. Leave alone the money, there were no letters or phone calls. That’s when i realized that i was scammed. I thought of going to the police station and talk about it. For 100 Rupees??..
My parents returned. My mom asked me about the money, I told her that i treated myself ‘royally’ and had spent the money on eating fast food all week. Little did she know that her son was scammed and was only eating Idli’s all week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Now, every time i visit the Railway station, I look for him, I don’t remember his face but may be he is still borrowing money from people. But that was the last i saw of him. Here I am only talking about it.
As i look back into the incident; I realize that, one thing that let me hand the money to the person was his looks. If not for the looks or the language, I would have ignored him and not trusted him with anything. The hand around the shoulder part gave me a brotherly feeling. The ‘foreplay’, Chennai to KanyaKumari. And the final “I swear on My Mother’s name” did the trick. Adding to all this is “I’m getting late” and “I have to go now”. I was in a rush, did not even look at the person’s face. I don’t even remember if the person was clean shaven or had a mustache. Was he bald or had a lot of hair. He played his part cleanly and convinced me to handing him the money, at will that is. He knew i had more money, but did not try to steal it or force me into lending him more. I feel lucky to not having lost over a 100 bucks.
If i happen to think the other way, May be the guy really wanted the money. May be he used the “I will return the money” as a reassurance that i will hand him some money. What id he really needs the money and I’m the only person to help? I can’t imagine being stranded with no money in an unknown place amongst unknown people. That must be difficult, may be I’ll do the same thing when I’m in such a situation.
One thing i have realized for sure, I will take the picture of the person on the mobile phone. The reaction should tell if he really needs the money. If I don’t receive the money in a definite time frame, I could hand the picture to the police. The police will not be interested. In that case,The picture makes a good blog post 😀
Understanding the scam is really important in understanding that u r getting scammed, There are 100 other ways that scammers may use to get u hand them money. I would love to discuss them, but i guess i leave something for a boring sunday post!
PS:I’m collecting Gandhiji’s photos. Give ur contribution to the collection. A small condition – It must be a genuine 500 Rupee or a 1000 Rupee note. Thank You.