Thursday, September 22, 2011

Scam Alert! Excuse me have a lucky face.

Quite a while back I wrote about the Fake Monks who were rinsing people (mainly tourists) in my neighbourhood for donations - yeah you know the ones where you can see their t-shirt under their robe and talking on the mobile phone when they think you're not looking. If you missed it you can read the post here.

Well there is a new rouse in town.

Yesterday I was walking down by the river when I heard someone to the right of me say "Excuse me have a lucky face". Hmm I thought, am I really about to get lucky?
Probably not, but when I turned around and there stood a gentleman of Indian original, staring very intently at me.

Maybe it's my London street savvy kicking in but usually when someone says something weird like that, I start formulating my exit strategy rather than letting myself be drawn into them or amused. Yes I've had to deal with enough nutters in my time!

So I gave a little polite "why how very kind of you" laugh and kept walking along. And as I did I remembered that another Indian gentleman had come up and said exactly the same thing to me a year ago. I was starting to hear twilight zone music in my head and began to wonder was this something to do with...

a) a cult
b) a scam
Well someone who replied to my Tweet asking the very same question on Twitter had another option:

c) that our stars were aligned

Well I wish it was something as romantic as that, but sadly not.

Eager to unearth the truth I got straight on the Internet and guess what? Yup it's a scam.

So according to another blog - Snippets from Singapore - this is what would have probably have happened if I'd stuck around to find out what was next ...

"Excuse me ma'am, your face looks very lucky.   You are healthy and happy, can I see your forehead? You have three lines. One is happiness and yours says you are very happy.  One is health, and you are going to live a long life, die in your sleep peacefully between the ages of 87 and 95. The  middle line is wealth.  You think too much about your wealth.

He asked questions, did a little magic trick, tried to tell me my fortune. Then he told me he was a yogi from India who travels from country to country to talk about meditation and yoga.   He asked if I was poor, medium, or rich."

OK WARNING BELLS AT THIS POINT!!! Trying to decipher your giving capacity. Nice.
He had written P - 50, M - 100, R - 150 on his paper.  He told me since I am medium, I should pay him S$100 and he will tell me three ways I can improve my wealth.   I asked him if he was offering this as a service?  He said no, he is a yogi from India who travels from country to country and does not get paid for what he does.  I said, well, is this a service you are offering for me to pay for?  Nope.  So I said, I'll pay you S$4 because I enjoyed my time but that's it.  He was not very happy, but I was, and I walked away.  He told me I will have an unhappy heart because I would not give him more money." *

Fair play to you Snippets of Singapore. And nice try "yogi" pulling the guilt card out there at the end with the unhappy heart threat because we all know that money leads to happiness. Pah!

I'm sorry for all the true yogis out there whose reps are being trashed by these charlatans. Jeez some people we do anything to make a buck or two!

*Read the full blog post by Snippets of Singapore here.


Tina said...

Thanks Ms Demeanour. It's nice to know I wasn't the only one this happened to. Great blog!

Anonymous said...

Same thing. I'm so immune to stuff like that i don't make it a point to help people out anymore, in case i'm actually funding their illegal or terrorist activities. There were those yellow ribbons scam on the news this month. The guys actually come to my door and try to sell cheap ice-creams for $20!

Merlin Stone said...

Has anyone experienced the "gold" ring scam - we did in Paris a few weeks ago. You are walking along with you wife/partner.A man comes up to you saying, look, I have just found this gold ring, but I have no lady to give it to. He gives it to you and you walk away. He then catches up with you and asks for a bit of "financial help." A few Euros. The ring is worth only cents. We gave it back and he was very angry. The lady you are with then might get angry with you, as she has not realised that it is a scam!

Ms Demeanour said...

Hi Tina, well since I wrote about it there's all sorts of people who said that they too have a lucky face! So we are definitely not alone. Glad you like the blog :)

Ms Demeanour said...

Hi Anonymous,
Yes I heard about that! I had something very similar back in the UK but with tea towels of all things. It's sad because you never really know what is genuine and what is not and sadly these scams ruin it for the genuine ones.

Ms Demeanour said...

Hi Pappa Stone! No not heard about the gold ring scam but googled it and apparently it's a Paris-specific one and so yet to make it over to Singapore. Perhaps in time it will! It's funny how different countries/cultures seem to have their own variations.

Anonymous said...

This happened to me in Bangkok last year. I've actually been used to Indian guys approaching me in Thailand and Hong Kong with the same phrase - "you're a lucky lady" / "you have a lucky face" and I used to ignore them; then, one day on Khao San Road (of all places), I got a bit fed up and replied "that's all I need to know, if I'm so lucky I don't need my fortune told anyway because everything's gonna be alright". Anyway, the Yogi managed to wheedle me into trying to find out how much he knew about me (for FREE), and I guess curiousity took the best of me; He sat down with me in an alley and told me me 1. my date of birth, 2. the maiden name of my mother and 3. the name of my (unhappy) "love". But to be precise, he didn't tell me straightforward but let me write down those things on little pieces of paper which I was told to keep in my hand, and later on he produced a piece of paper where he had written down those things. I don't clearly remember how it worked, but I know this very moment I was quite impressed and in hindsight I guess it's obvious he was playing some tricks on me and was quite experienced at cold reading. So now he had "proved" to me that he actually had supernatural powers, he offered his services to me to regain my lost love, and he also had a "price list", with rates for "poor", "middle" and "rich" people. He assumed I was "middle", but I insisted I was "poor", and went to a close-by ATM to get money for him. When I was finished, he was already standing in the road not far from me, eager for me to come back and pay up. So we went back to the alley, I handed him the money and he told me a mantra I were supposed to say ninety times a day in the morning while drinking a glass of still water, and then my love would return to me and I'd be happy forever. Well, I didn't actually follow his instructions so there's no way I could tell if it would have worked, but I highly doubt that. In the end, he gave me a bead neclace as "as a gift", and in return asked me if I had any "gift" (mobile phone? mp3-player?)for him in return, which I denied. If he really had the supernatural powers he claimed to possess he would have known I was lying (maybe he did, but so what).
Oh yes, he also showed me a picture of a group of naked saddhus and pointing out himself (I have no idea if that was really him, they all looked the same), and claimed he was doing some kind of charity work for children in need. I still held on to my phone and player).
So yeah, I'm pretty convinced he was just a greedy bastard scamming me, but I'm still fascinated about how smoothly he did his tricks and how easily I could have let my guards down.

Ms Demeanour said...

Wow very interesting to read your experience. You're right from a method point of view it's quite fascinating. I think they just work a few mental levers to try to get our guard down and once they have created that little entry then the rest follows quite easily. I wonder if there is a handbook, or if they all get together at a scam conference once a year to see how they can scam us more effectively and/or creatively. I'm glad you held on to your phone and player as don't think it would have gone towards any non-profit benefit!