AsiaNepalPokhara

The gem stone fraude (part 1)

Pokhara Travel Blog

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Walking down the streets in Pokhara, my watch, which is quite big, attrackts the attention of people often. Nothing special when a local, working in a gem stone shop, asked if he could see it. He invited me in the shop, where we had a cup of tea. After a while, some other men came in, and somewhere in the conversation, they started talking about there stones that had to be delivered in different countries around the world and because of the high taxes they were charged with, they were looking for people to deliver those stones for them. The “head”-man was a very easy speaker and always talking, actually making sure you didn’t have the time to think. If you did come up with an answer, he/they always had an answer, even a reasonable one. The profit I could make with it, was told to be 23 000 euro. Obviously this was one big fraude, but still, my interest was touched. My interest in how these things actually work. After thinking about it for a few hours, I decided to say yes to the plan, also thinking; What if this is real? There are so many places around here I'd like to help out financially, and with that amount you can really help a lot of places here. They asked (wanted) me to move out of my hotel, and I could check in in their hotel, where they would carry all my expenses, and they would pay for my meals until the day I got back from London. They would also pay my airticket, two ways. After leaving my hotel, and being brought to their hotel, the chief invited me for dinner in one of Pokhara's nice restaurants. We had a talk about what had to be done before I left, and I had a good time, maybe this was extra activated by the beer they were ordering. I have to admit, they gave me a good and safe feeling, so maybe that was the point were they caught me. Changing from wondering why, how and what, to believing and trusting. The money I could make with it was already reduced to 20 000 USD, but still, that's a big amount for me, and many people. The only thing I had to pay for was the insurance of the package I was sending to London. The packadge which would contain the stones. Next morning, I was picked up by the hotel by one of the survants. He escorted me to one of the shops, which was right behind the corner, and there the boss was waiting. After the blabla, we started packing the stones, putting them on cotton and folding paper around it like an envelope. When he was packing the stones, I wrote down which stones and how many were going to be in the package. So, they really gave me that safe feeling, as if I had control over everything. After the envelope was closed and sealed with both our signatures, el jefe send me to a courier service to send the package to the GPO in London. In the mean time, we were also going to cash money from the ATM machine for the insurance. An insurance that was going to be more than 4000 USD, because the estimated value of the package was 20 000 USD, and 21% of that amount was the insurance price. What had happened at that time, I don't know, because I didn't hesitate to follow the plan. To my luck my card could only withdraw 40 000 NPR at one day, which is equal to about 650 USD, or 470 euro. When I would arrive in London, the envelope would already be there, so I just had to collect it at the GPO, get in contact with the contact person, hand him the merchandise and he would pay me my money, plus the insurance money minus 6%, because if they would cancel the insurance there would only be a 6% charge of the total amount. Because I could only give them 40 000 NPR at that time, we decided they would swap my creditcard for 2000 USD. They were always talking about their shops, and their people, as if they owned Pokhara and around. At least that was what they wanted me to believe. The afternoon, I was off duty, which means I had no meeting with them, and we met again at 5 o'clock in the evening. At that time I was told my flight to London would be two days later, at 8.30 am. We swapped the credit card in a travell agency, which was not completely strange, because that is done by more (even legit) shop owners, if they don't have their own possibility to accept credit cards. Than time was come for me to meet some friends, have dinner (with my friends) and go to bed early. That was the plan, so we said goodbey for that day and agreed on meeting eachother again the next day at 1.30 pm. I never saw the friends I planned to see that night, because I didn't feel like it. Instead I had dinner on my own, and on my way to the hotel, I ran into a Belgian friend, whom I talked to for more than an hour. When I finally went to the hotel, I ran into a woman I met on the trekking. Two days before I told her about the whole plan, and because she was so suspicious, she started looking in travell books, because she knew somewhere she had seen something about it. She took me to her hotel, and there she showed me what was really bringing me back to reality again. In the Lonely Planet of India there was this warning about gem stone treaders, who rip of tourists by sending them to other countries to deliver stones. They make friends with you, take you to their houses, insist on paying you dinner ... the whole story I just wrote down. Than when you would arrive in the other country the stones wouldn't even be there, even if you saw them delivered at the so called courrier service, and with even more bad luck, you would find out that your bank account gets ripped by your credit card. After thanking her heartly for her very interesting information, I went back to my hotel, which had become a place I had to leave as soon as possible. A big problem was that I had two big bags I had to take out with me, without anybody seeing me. And on top of that I had to find a place to hide, because I didn't know what kind of people I was dealing with. This told me I couldn't leave at night, when everyone was sleeping, also the good people. The area where the hotel was located was dark, so I had to make sure I wouldn't bump into one of them in a dark alley. My credit card had to be blocked, to preveal any further financial damage, and recover the 2000 USD. A lot to do in only a few hours. My mind was working fast, but at that time it couldn't seem to work fast enough. My heart was beating maybe harder as it did during the toughest effort I did trekking around the mountains.
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Pokhara
photo by: Makkattack