Scary Scams

Trip Start Jan 31, 2011
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Tuesday, June 7, 2011

11:41 I slept alone last night, and just before 9 a group of people arrived.
I went for breakfast and decided to take a walk round to see what I found.
Of course walking is the surest way to be accosted by motorbike and cyclo men wanting to take you somewhere, 'help' you, take you on a mini tour trying to convince you that the tours you've already been on didn't show you this or that. I politely decline them all insisting that I'm going for a walk, that I know will make me hot, but a walk for now is what I want.
11:48 I found myself at the HCM history museum, not very interesting sadly.

Today was not a good day. 

After the museum I came out and fended off the usual do you want a moto or a cyclo, and any number of people trying to sell things. As I walked along there was a girl who in the usual style asked my name and where am I from, and then told me how her sister was in London studying to be a nurse for the red cross. We actually got chatting and sat down for 10 mins to talk before she asked me if I'd like to go for lunch, and that we'd go to her brother and sister in laws house and I could meet this sister and talk to her about England some more. 
She said she was from Thaliand, and her brother has married a Vietnamese lady. We took a taxo to their house and they welcomed me in and for lunch which was delicious. We talked about all sorts and he told me he was a card dealer for the big casinos and how he often got a percentage of the day's takings as commision. 
He then told me he'd teach me a trick, whereby we went upstairs and he showed me the game black jack, whch I know how to play. He also told me that he knew the next cards and could show me with finger indications, telling me that we could go to a casino with no cameras where there is a private game, and he is the dealer. He could tell me what the cards were, and the next cards, thereby I could always win. That 6 years ago him and another 'partner' won over $300,000 dollars this way as the supervisor was also in on the scam. 
He also told me that later on a rich lady from Brunei would be coming and he would invite her for a game where I could practice these skills, saying that I was also a business woman (here I am looking scruffy???) and that I'd just lost $5000 that morning in the Casinos. I said already i didn't want to do it, but before I knew it, we were playing. Before we played I went to the bathroom and stuffed most of the big money I had from my purse into my bra in case I was giong to be forced to hand over what I did have. 
He'd stuffed a $100 bill into my hand and one into his sisters, who would be my secretary. With this borrowed money he gave me some chips. We played. I watched his signals, I kept winning. However at one point she bet more than I had so he 'credited' me with $100. I knew right then that the fact I owned him this $100 credit was potentially going to get me in trouble. I had 2 $100 chips left and kept the 'credit' to one side. On the last game, the lady whipped out a wad 2 inches thick of 'money' that was supposedly $87,000. At this point the whole proceedings became impossibly implausible, and I got really worried. They then all started pushing me to take a credit for the matching amount. Even though the signals he'd given me had shown I would win, this had all become too fake and too obvious that I'd never played cards, didn't know what to do with my chips, and couldn't possibly be a businesswoman with zip off trousers a dirty looking shirt and a rucksack. Ok, I'm very likely a pretty successful person in my life, but I doubt I could convincingly look like I'd lost $5000 that morning. 
I said no, I wasn't going to match the bet, not when she only had a 10 on the table. If she'd had an ace, that might have been more convincing, but a 10 - no one would bet that amount of money on a last game. Ridiculous. I declined and declined over and over despite the badgering to take a credit. Eventually they left it. She 'won' the hand, he showed her out, and I sat with my head in my hands and cried, the sister comforting me. I'd told her my sorrowful story of my last year in the taxi, and I genuinely think that although they were trying to get money out of me, that she felt bad, certainly now that I was reduced to tears. 
They let me go saying they'd get me a motorbike taxi. All the time the girl was saying she was really sorry, and she was sorry about her brother. I think I believed her. 

I got on the motorbike taxi and left relieved, and shaken. We went 100 yards down the road and 2 guys cut the motorbike off. I got off the back and handed my helmet to the guy, worried that they were just going to mug me instead. He kept saying what about money, I was going to hand him 20,000 just to go away, he said 100,000 and I told him to "Fuck off!! I'm not giving you that!" He was angry, but fortunately we were on a corner and there were some police there and I stood near them, not knowing where to go in case he followed me. After a few minutes I asked the other motorbike taxi to take me to the market, again, in case I got followed, and was relieved when we'd left the area. At the market I went inside for a while, found copy Chanel watches, Ray Ban glasses...the usual selection of brand items for practically nothing. Then got a final motorbike back to the hotel where I sat and cried just at the shock and deception  of the whole thing, and the relief of escape without harm or loss. I was lucky. 

I spent the rest of the day inside the hotel, talked to mum and dad, and told them my story. I went out breifly before it went dark to get a new shirt made like my white one. A treat from mum. I also found a toblerone in a shop which I knew would come useful.... It's in the fridge and will comfort me later on.  
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Smundy (John) on

Lucky you kept your wits about you Zoe...take care. Enjoying the blog, by the way!

von_adder on

Zoe!!! How many bloody times on the way!

Andrew D on

Oh my goodness Zoe! That sounds terrible! I can't believe people can do things like that... I'm so glad you didn't cave to them though. Also, out of curiosity, how much is 100,000 there? How much would that correspond to in pounds, out of curiosity?

I guess the only lesson to take from that is to be very careful who you trust, and never go back to someones house! So glad you're okay though. Take some time to chill out and get over the shock.

Hope to speak to you on Skype again soon. Take care of yourself and stay safe!


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