Monday, September 22, 2014

Scammers gonna scam.

Well, it happened. Almost.
Getting scammed, that is. I trust pretty much everyone, bound to happen sooner or later, right?
The boardwalk a few blocks from my current guesthouse
I was walking along boardwalk, enjoying the fading sun and the hundreds of families walking about (right now, it's one of the largest Cambodian holidays of the year, Pchum Ben Day, so most of the businesses are closed and a lot of people have left the city and are visiting their families. A lot of the Khmer I have met are traveling insane distances to see their families and celebrate their ancestors).
So this friendly guy from Bali, Jan, comes up and says in near perfect English, "Hey man, I really like your shirt."
Of course, I say something along the lines of "Oh, thank you."
In my head, I'm thinking: wow, what a super nice dude!
Kind of reminds me all that times at Borders when I'd have a customer hit on me, and I'd just think it was a really, really friendly woman.
Totally oblivious. Like usual.
"Where'd you get it?" Jan asks.
"Somewhere in the States, don't know where exactly."
"Ah, the States? My sister is going to school there! Next month! Where in the States?"
"Washington State. Seattle area."
"That's where she's going!" Jan exclaims.
Very convenient, right?
And so we talk for quite a while, he seems pretty legitimate, and we exchange Cambodian phone numbers and decide to meet tomorrow for lunch. I walk away really happy. Always a good feeling to meet new friends. That night he texts me to go the bar, but I'm exhausted and tell him I'd only go if it was in walking distance from the boardwalk. He declines, as he wants to go to a far away bar.

Next morning, I'm all ready to go and I casually mention to my hostel owner, Edvin, how great and easy it is to meet people.
"Oh, did he like your shirt?" Edvin asks.
"Well, yeah, of course he did! It was a nice shirt." I get defensive. "If I was wearing it right now, Edvin, you'd like it, too!"
And he then proceeds to play out the whole conversation, almost word for word. And it hits me: damn, fell for it. The next step was to go to his house and play rigged cards apparently. I've found countless internet threads of all the bad things that could have happened. He's called me about 10 times this morning alone and sent texts demanding where I am.

But, scams are everywhere. I've fell for quite a few of them in the states (magazine drive guys, anyone? Anyone?). I'm not the smartest person. In fact, far from it. I've been scammed before and I'm sure to be scammed many a times to come.

But I have learned one thing.
Shirt compliments.
Just say no.

(For the record though, it was an awfully nice shirt)

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