Saturday, 7 March 2015

Meet the Scammers!

Bizarre encounter....oh yes they are the local scammers!

Went out for a walk to see where one of my offered compounds is as it was just round the corner and see what it looked like from the outside etc. etc.

Anyway, on the way back was enjoying my stroll and just outside the Radison Blue, a white car went past, slowed down and the guy in the passenger seat waved, but due to the traffic they couldn't just stop, so they carried on another 30m and pulled into a small road junction that went into an office complex.

I was straight on 'alert', but kept walking and as I got closer the passenger got out the car and started walking towards me. Tall skinny european looking in a shirt and tie.

Before he got too close I shouted at him "You lost or something?" so that he knew I wasn't passive. I had a look at the car which was about 5m away and could only see one other person in the driver seat.

The guy starts, asking where the new Airport was. I said, you are on the Salwa Road so just keep going towards the centre and he will start to see the signs, and then pointed in the general direction of the airport. He asked where I was from, and when I said Scotland, he started with the typical comments relating to Scottish weather, Glasgow and whiskey.

I start to move on and the guy shakes my hand to say thanks, and then he starts the well prepared speech.

He has just finished a 5 Day fashion exhibition and was heading back to Italy. He did speak with an Italian accent. I looked at the car again and it wasn't a taxi, but a tatty looking car with a Qatar number plate (i.e. not a hire car), so thought the driver must be a local so should know the way to the airport, As he was chatting I was having a casual glance around to make sure no one else was coming.

He goes on and says he has suit samples left and they should fit me and doesn't want to take them back to Italy as it will cost him more in tax etc. etc. He then proceeds to show me a invoice sheet showing the value of the stuff he has left and nothing was less than about 1600euro per suit.

Still showing zero interest, I just kept letting him rant on. And then he gets out one of the samples and showed it to me etc. etc. Then he asks about my wife and he also has his and her leather jackets which looked awful. He then folds 3 suits and 2 jackets and puts them into an Armani plastic carrier and hand them to me. I wasn't wanting any of this stuff. He then starts goin gon about how he was in a rush to get home for his wife's birthday on Monday and how the company wanted him to go somewhere else, but he said no etc. The problem he had was he wanted to by his wife an iPhone 6 from the airport, but didn't have enough cash and only the notes he had in his pocket, and would I help him in exchange for the suits/jackets. He was needing about 3000 QAR (approx 550GBP).

I said no, I don't have any cash and can't help him, and don't want his stuff. He says we could go to an ATM and which point I raised the tone, firmly "No, I am not going to an ATM, don't want your clothes, so on your way and hope you find your airport." turned and walked away while checking he wasn't coming after me.

Fortunately just as I walked away, one of the red Emir 4x4 police cars pulled into the junction, so felt at ease.

As I walked away, I just kept checking, and crossed the road (6 lanes of traffic on Salwa Road) so that he was on the wrong side for the traffic, and then I promptly disappeared out of his sight.

Checking I still had my wallet, mobile phones (mine and company issued) and watch and replaying what just happened.

Although felt 'on alert' at no time did I feel threatened. I managed to grab a glimpse of the driver and it was some old guy who probably only ever just drives.

I got back to the apartment and did a search on Google and sure enough it is a simple scam to prey on foreigners who think they are getting thousands of pounds of designer clothes for a few hundred quid and will happily hand over money for the clothes which are of course low quality fakes. This scam operates all over the middle east.

Good job I wasn't into fashion labels and had a need for designer suits!

So, just goes to show, no matter were you are whether Aberdeen or Alabama, Dundee or Doha, the scammers are hard at work trying to get your cash.

Has this put me off in anyway...No. It can happen anywhere. No different to all the shops in Turkey, in the hotels that are selling knock off goods to unsuspecting tourists.

Just be vigilant...and remember the old saying, if it is too good to be true, it is a scam!

Here is a link to google search and you can see how common it is:

Have a nice day!

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