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Old 09.06.2011, 16:15
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Scam? Woman "lost" tickets, stuck, etc.

Hi fellow skeptics,

Just to share an interesting happening. I was walking a short way from Zurich's train station (a few blocks away) when a small woman approached asking if I speak English. That is normally a clue something great is coming, so I kept my eye behind me in case it was a hit and run pickpocket. I said "ein bissl" and she told me she was American (ohh!) from New York, traveling through Paris, lost her ticket, typed in the wrong bank card pin too many times so no money.

I stopped her. "You're from New York, you say?"
"Oh you are from New York?" she says, stunned for a short second.
"Yeah, where'd you go to school?" I am not from New York.
"PS 119, and Franklin high, blah blah." She says...fairly smoothly.
"You should go to the embassy..they will help." I tell her. She pulls what appears to be an American passport from an otherwise mostly empty purse. It is a replacement she tells me. But she needs help.

"I highly suggest you spend more time at the consulate, or embassy. They will help you if you are really in trouble." She gets a smirk, and I walk away checking my still full pockets, and closed bag.

I consider myself a helpful guy, but this screams odd to me. If I were stuck as this woman claimed, I would be milking my rights to diplomatic assistance (paid for by my taxes/FBAR filing) to ensure safety. I felt a little bad, and she was smooth in answering my nonsense, but it screams scam to me.

Any thoughts?
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Old 09.06.2011, 16:18
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Re: Scam? Woman "lost" tickets, stuck, etc.

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Any thoughts?
What was her actual question then?
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Old 09.06.2011, 16:18
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Re: Scam? Woman "lost" tickets, stuck, etc.

was she hot?
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Old 09.06.2011, 16:20
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Re: Scam? Woman "lost" tickets, stuck, etc.

Totally a scam. Had the same with a guy outside Bern SBB years ago; English, argument with brother, needed to get back to Zürich etc etc. Told him I didn't have any change and left.
Saw him at exactly the same place the next day, same sob story, different punter.
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Old 09.06.2011, 16:22
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Re: Scam? Woman "lost" tickets, stuck, etc.

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What was her actual question then?
She never got to that...I asked too many questions.
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Old 09.06.2011, 16:55
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Re: Scam? Woman "lost" tickets, stuck, etc.

I have encountered the same in various formats in UK and Switzerland. Whilst the occasional one may be genuine, I feel sure it is generally some form of scam or begging.

I always politely decline any assistance.
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Old 09.06.2011, 16:59
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Re: Scam? Woman "lost" tickets, stuck, etc.

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Any thoughts?
How did she know you were American - was it what you were wearing or the way you were acting?

It may have been chance but she obviously was trying to pull the feeling sorry for the fellow-country man trick.
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Old 09.06.2011, 17:00
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Re: Scam? Woman "lost" tickets, stuck, etc.

I'm with you on this, oakley3. If I'm not in a hurry, I always offer lots of useful advice, all of which don't involve me spending any money, until they give up and go away.

And as regular readers here all know, I'm full of useful advice

Last edited by adrianlondon; 09.06.2011 at 18:10. Reason: Add a quip. Well why not. Every post should have one.
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Old 09.06.2011, 17:02
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Re: Scam? Woman "lost" tickets, stuck, etc.

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How did she know you were American - was it what you were wearing or the way you were acting?

It may have been chance but she obviously was trying to pull the feeling sorry for the fellow-country man trick.

he was wearing his favorite jacket

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Old 09.06.2011, 17:02
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Re: Scam? Woman "lost" tickets, stuck, etc.

Question. If you really were stuck away from home having lost your wallet in Switzerland how do you get home again (assuming you are resident here)? Can the SBB offices issue an emergecy ticket which you pay for later or do you just chance your luck on the train?
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Old 09.06.2011, 17:04
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Re: Scam? Woman "lost" tickets, stuck, etc.

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How did she know you were American - was it what you were wearing or the way you were acting?

It may have been chance but she obviously was trying to pull the feeling sorry for the fellow-country man trick.
Who said she knew before I commented? I answered her in German, and let her begin the sob story without saying anything in English. I only spoke to gauge the level of deceit.

And, I often sing our national anthem while holding bags of brown sugar, while walking about town.
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Old 09.06.2011, 17:05
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Re: Scam? Woman "lost" tickets, stuck, etc.

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Question. If you really were stuck away from home having lost your wallet in Switzerland how do you get home again (assuming you are resident here)? Can the SBB offices issue an emergecy ticket which you pay for later or do you just chance your luck on the train?
There is an office at some trainstations, that offers help in case you're stranded. At Zurich HB, the office is on the first level down the escalator right next to the toilets.
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Old 09.06.2011, 17:05
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Re: Scam? Woman "lost" tickets, stuck, etc.

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he was wearing his favorite jacket

Nah, it was the Hawaian shirt, long shorts, white socks and sandals.
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Old 09.06.2011, 17:07
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Re: Scam? Woman "lost" tickets, stuck, etc.

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Question. If you really were stuck away from home having lost your wallet in Switzerland how do you get home again (assuming you are resident here)? Can the SBB offices issue an emergecy ticket which you pay for later or do you just chance your luck on the train?
I'd go to the cops, tell my story and see what they'd recommend. I'm guessing they deal with these kind of incidents constantly. Maybe you get some report paperwork and can use this with the SBB, because I'm sure they're not over endowed in the sympathy department themselves.
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Old 09.06.2011, 17:12
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Re: Scam? Woman "lost" tickets, stuck, etc.

I once lost my wallet at a rest stop. I did not have a mobile phone and I had no money. I wanted to call home. I was asking for money for the phone or to borrow a phone to call so I could get my partner to stop credit cards etc. It took a while before anyone would help. The man who did finally said there are too many people begging that it makes people not believe anyone.
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Old 09.06.2011, 17:13
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Re: Scam? Woman "lost" tickets, stuck, etc.

It has never happend to me so I thought I would ask. It did happen to a couple of friends who got their handbags knicked in a pub & lost everything but on that occaion some kind soul they met that night loaned them the money for a taxi home.

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I'd go to the cops, tell my story and see what they'd recommend. I'm guessing they deal with these kind of incidents constantly. Maybe you get some report paperwork and can use this with the SBB, because I'm sure they're not over endowed in the sympathy department themselves.
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Old 09.06.2011, 17:15
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Re: Scam? Woman "lost" tickets, stuck, etc.

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Who said she knew before I commented? I answered her in German, and let her begin the sob story without saying anything in English. I only spoke to gauge the level of deceit.

And, I often sing our national anthem while holding bags of brown sugar, while walking about town.
Nobody - but she might have guessed. Or you may have been talking on a mobile earlier and she overheard you and followed you.

It's a known type of scam which it why I mentioned it.

And with a successful scam, you always wondered how they did it -to you - it's like a magic trick.
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Old 09.06.2011, 17:18
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Re: Scam? Woman "lost" tickets, stuck, etc.

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And with a successful scam, you always wondered how they did it -to you - it's like a magic trick.
Fair point. She was loitering on the sidewalk and asked as I passed. No phone calls, no American flag, no English until she began speaking.
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Old 09.06.2011, 17:20
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Re: Scam? Woman "lost" tickets, stuck, etc.

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Who said she knew before I commented? I answered her in German, and let her begin the sob story without saying anything in English. I only spoke to gauge the level of deceit.

And, I often sing our national anthem while holding bags of brown sugar, while walking about town.
You walk around with bags of brown sugar!!? I will remember that, maybe wander around Zurich saying I am a lost north american, just looking for some brown sugar to help me get home. It seems easier than trying to buy it somewhere.
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Old 09.06.2011, 17:22
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Re: Scam? Woman "lost" tickets, stuck, etc.

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And with a successful scam, you always wondered how they did it -to you - it's like a magic trick.

with a proper successful scam, you never realise you've been scammed.
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