Sweet arrival surprise in St Petersburg

Saint Petersburg Travel Blog

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When our coach arrived to the Baltic railway station in St Petersburg I didn't have any roubles therefore the very first thing I did I approached an ATM in order to withdraw some money. Everything was ok except for the fact I did get my credit card but no money. NO MONEY!!! Where's my money I was asking the same question a thousend times in front of the ATM. Then a guy came to the same ATM and despite my warning "it doesn't work" he was successful and got his money. Wow, he got money I didn't, this is Russia I'm convincing myself.Get used to it.Then I went to a toilet, bought a metro ticket, took a metro ride and when I was waiting for another train (I had to change lines) some twenty minutes after my ATM accident I spotted the same guy who withdrew his money just after me now standing about 10 meters from me. No f**** way, it's not possible.....What the hell is going on? Having learned about various ATM scams taking place in Russia I knew that guy withdrew my 5500 roubles and copied my credit card details and now he wants to pickpocket me....Oh no, this can't be happening to me and on my very first day...'I need to get rid of him...I need to find out if he is really after me', those were my thoughts. The train approached and I waited for all people including that guy to get on the train before I hopped on a different carriage.  Two stops later it was my final destination so I got off the train and waited in a little corner for about 2 minutes before I approched an escalator......I looked over my shoulder and that bloody guy was again 5 meters below me....Aaaaaaaaggghhhhhhhh, I was holding my wallet in my pocket so intensively that nothing on earth could steal it from me....I ran out of the metro station so freaked out that I didn't stop for next 30 meters when I put all my valuables into the deepest place of my backpack....Hahaha, you're looser!!! I won my little battle...:-)....The hostel was just around the corner and as soon as I checked-in I collapsed on my bed.....I thought: Let's have some rest, some sleep, tomorrow will be another.....better day....No-one will steal from my credit card tomorrow because there will be nothing left......At that moment I got an idea that I would have to be quicker than the thief and try to utilise as much credit limit as possible before he does....Hence I ran out of the hostel to the street and was looking for another ATM. I put my credit card into ATM, typed my PIN code, typed the maximum amount allowed for withdrawal (10 000 roubles) and then there was the message: "Please contact your bank".....Aaaaaaaaaaagggghhhhhhh!!! It was clear that my credit card was hacked....I sadly returned to the hostel, told my story to the receptionist who offered himself to call the helpline of the first bank I wanted to withdraw from. After a 5minut discussion the operator told him that there was an attempt to withdraw money from my account (yes, it was me) but apparently a response from my Irish bank was so slow that the whole operation didn't proceed at the end and the Russian bank didn't charge my account. Yeeeees, excellent!!! This was a relief and I kind of calmed down and called my Irish bank to find out why I can't get my money from ATM in Russia.  As soon as I answered a dozen of security questions the Irish bank helpline operator told me there's everything ok with my credit card and that I really should be able to withdraw money. The only reason as to not being able to get cash from ATM she only suggested that my card may be scratched. "Are you serious?" I replied "I used my card only yesterday in Estonia and there was no problem at all". Anyway, I was pleased with the information that everything is ok and that nothing was stolen so I started to think that one reason might be the fact that there are houndreds of banks in Russia and not all of them might be linked to the international network. My theory was confirmed the very next day as I finally withdrew cash from VTB Bank in the Hermitage gallery. A role of "that weird guy" in the story remains unanswered. :-)
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