Turkish 'friends' - Nice guys or shady scammers?

Turkey | Wed, 1 Dec 2010 | 5634 views | 10 Comments

"Hello my friend…"


It's a phrase you will hear many times as a single male in Turkey. If you are starved for friends in your home country you will be spoiled for choice as soon as you leave the airport.

But like any way of life, there are the good and the bad.

Turkish people, by their very nature, are hospitable, good humoured and generous. They will go out of their way to make new friends and help you discover what is great about their country. The genuinely nice ones, anyway.

The bad ones? Well, that's a different story. They take the generous spirit of Turkish people and turn it into something they can exploit for their own selfish gain.

Armed with a few key things to look out for, you can quickly separate the wheat from the chaff.

Would you like a drink my friend?


For most guys, the offer of a drink from a perfect stranger is about as foreign as the cold glove of a TSA officer in a moment of “suspicion”.

But it’s a common phrase you will hear in Turkey, especially in Istanbul. Some of the offers are genuine, some of them are geared for only one thing - to make an even better friend with your wallet.

One of the most prevalent scams is the simple offering of a drink. The interaction will be simple - a man will approach you, say hello and engage in conversation about your life and travels. He will most likely reveal little about himself when asked, and will deviate little into spontaneous conversation.


He will also have a moustache so creepy it makes children cry


The next thing he will probably offer to take you to a bar or restaurant where he knows the best wine, or the best kebob, or the best Turkish ladies - he insists that you accompany him.

When you are inside the "secret place", it’s likely you will be approached by a set of attractive women who will try to coerce you into buying a few drinks - the situation will have an air of seduction, but don't be fooled, it's all leading up to something big and nasty.

After a couple of drinks – you might start to get the heebie-jeebies and want to get the bill. When the bill comes, you’ll probably go into cardiac arrest, given that it comes to around $1000-$1500 for a few beverages.


If these guys have to calculate your cheque, you’re in trouble


Once the bill is delivered, that’s when things get ugly. Your “friend” will probably take the side of the proprietors, who by now will be flanked by several large assistants. Then, you find yourself at an ATM extracting cash after a threat of violence for non-payment.

Another possibility is having a sedative dunked into your drink. After that happens, anything is possible.

Your new “friend” could take you all over town, forcing you to remove your money from ATM’s, rack up thousands of dollars in debt on your credit card – or even pass it on to another one of his buddies. He might even be shady enough to wake up with you the next day to tell you what a great time you had – how you were crazy on the spend, how he had never seen anything like it.

However, there are a few tricks you can use to make sure you don’t wind up in this situation – which many travellers have experienced.

  • If your new “friend” doesn’t feel right, sounds like he is reacting from a prepared script, or is evasive when asked questions about his personal life – then you probably have a shark on your hands.
  • If your new “friend” insists that you only go to this particular bar that he knows, and wont compromise on an alternative, then he is probably shifty.
  • If you are with a group of friends, and he is trying to get you to come on your own – something is not right.
  • If the bar you go to has very little in terms of atmosphere and patronage – it’s probably a front for dodgy business like this. Best idea is simply to say you just remembered you have to be somewhere, and politely decline.
  • Accept only drinks that you or a waiter have poured. Be cautious about what goes into your mouth. Drinks, sweets, gum – these are all offered freely. The simple rule is “think three times” about what you put in your mouth in a foreign country.

If you keep cautious, and meet a friendly Turk and none of these alarm bells go off, then chances are you have simply met a fun loving Turk. Enjoy the party!

“Hello my friend….would you like to buy carpet?”


We will get one thing straight right here. If you go to Turkey, someone will try to sell you a carpet. It’s a travel maxim with concrete truth on par with the laws of physics.

Vendors can be very pushy, and very persuasive. They will go to no end to get a sale – it wouldn’t surprise us in the slightest us if you woke up one morning to find a vendor snuck into your bed, softly whispering into your ear about the superior quality of his carpets while he spoons you. (Ok, that one’s a joke)

They must be doing something right though. Each year thousands of bewildered travellers return home from Turkey with tonnes of carpets.

Average amount of carpets brought home by visitors to Turkey: 58


But, while the fun and games of a persistent salesman is all part of the Turkish experience, there are a few scams to watch out for.

Most vendors sell good quality material, but there is the off chance that you’ll get rugs imported from China using synthetic materials. We can’t give you a full breakdown of who is authentic and who is genuine – you need to do your own research, but make sure you put a little bit of time in if you want to purchase.

And always do your own shipping. Scores of people have mentioned their rugs never arrived from vendors who promised to have the items shipped.

In other words, don’t have the rug pulled out from under you.

Am I covered?


If you find yourself under the seduction of a shady “friend” and wind up with stolen money or personal possessions – the only way you can make a claim is if you are not drunk. Considering the circumstances we are discussing normally involve alcohol, you need to keep in mind that if you fall under the spell of a rotten Turk and are affected by alcohol, then chances are you wont have a claim paid.

If you are unwillingly drugged and can establish with the police that this is true, you are able to make a claim for any injuries you sustain, or for any items in your possession that were stolen. (Cover for lost cash is rare)



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Tags: europe, travel-crime, travel-safety, turkey

10 Comments

  • John C said

    My first exotic overseas trip when I was 20 was to Turkey. I was laughing as I read the series of events "Would you like a drink friend". That exact scerio happened to me complete with the heavies and a thretening manager. Some how I kept my cool. Once I realised a scam was on (and before the bill was presented) I had gone to the bathroom where I removed all my credit cards and major money to my sock. So after the bill was presented (yep - over $1000 for 2 drinks) and i showed I only had about $20 they went crazy. I just wanted to get out of the building so I offered to go up to an ATM, Of course the heavies came along. So there I am at the ATM, card in hand pissing myself. And I bolt down the road as fast as I can like a crazy person. I was frantic at the time and for a while after but could soon look back and laugh at a really good lesson on my first OS adventure. I have now lived around asia for 10 years and so my radar is much finer tuned now. But you gave great advice how to avoid this scam.

  • Kilim Lover said

    As someone who has travelled to and lived in Turkey for several years, I can definitely attest to the veracity of your stories. But there are at least two others which travelers should be aware of. One: Always, always, always ask in advance the price of anything you might be considering purchasing, whether clothes, trinkets, carpets, FOOD or DRINK, before you order or purchase it!!! Otherwise, you run the risk of being very shocked at the price. Two: Another scam here is real estate. Turkey is a beautiful and fascinating country. You might be tempted, as I was, to purchase a 'villa' here because it is so much more affordable than in the western world these days. Especially in the southwest. Because the coast lies on the Aegean and Mediterranean seas, the temptation is overwhelming. But be very, very careful. Even 'so-called' reputable builders can take you to the cleaners and they are very clever about it. They know how to use the system that we cannot understand. It took me almost three years to get the deed for my house and there was much, much aggro in even getting to that point. Many people here have had their houses and properties literally stolen out from under them by their builder 'friends' because the laws of escrow and purchase here are very different than in the west. And your 'friends' can suddenly turn very nasty when you approach them with your very real concerns. They believe your money should be theirs. Do your research. Ask around. Perhaps rent for awhile before purchasing. Just be careful. If ever the phrase 'buyer beware' was apt, it is when buying real estate in Turkey. The word 'friend' here can have a different meaning than what we in the west are used to.That said, many foreigners are living in Turkey and loving it once they have adjusted to its culture. Especially when they have found a builder who really is honest.

  • Gutiio said

    After living in Istanbul for over two years, I've come to the conclusion that all Turks, unless they are your close friends, are there to only take something from you. Turkish people are also the most impatient and rude people I've ever come across. I actually despise them.

  • roze said

    i nearly fell for a facebook scam

    my new lover of three month who i had booked a flight to go and visit
    asked me for 1000 to buy stock for his shop
    i declined and he blocked me on facebook and wont answer my calls
    he has a vintage shop in galata and is such a smooth operater watch out

  • IRENE said

    I HAVE BEEN SCAMMED BY A FEMALE WHO SAID SHE WAS IRISH AND WORKED ON THE RIGS, 6'1" TALL, SHE BEFRIENDED ME ON A SITE, SHE IS VERY ATTRACTIVE, HER NAME OLIVIA ANDERSON, (ON FACEBOOK)SHE GAVE ME A STORY AND I FELL FOR IT AND I SENT HER £250 THROUGH WESTERN UNION, SHE SAID SHE HAD NO CARDS (LIES) HAVING MY DETAILS SHE SENT ME PAPERS FOR A CONSIGNMENT IN MY NAME, THE SHIPPING COMPANY TNS24 THE MANAGER , MR GOMZE KONTI PHONED ME AFTER A FEW DAY TO TRACK THE GOODS FROM TURKEY TO A UK PORT, THIS FEMALE WAS KEEPING IN CONTACT WITH ME ON FACEBOOK SHE STATED THAT SHE WAS A SUB CONTRACTOR ON SHIP FOR INSTALLING AND MAINTENANCE ON THE RIG, WE WOULD CHAT AT MIDNIGHT, ALL SHE WAS CONCERNED ABOUT WAS THE CONSIGNMENT, THEN I WAS REQUIRED TO PAY FOR THE WAREHOUSE AND INSURANCE PURPOSES £2500 WHICH I DID TO A PERSONAL ACCOUNT THROUGH WESTERN UNION AGAIN, THE ADDRESSES ARE ALL WRONG, HER FACEBOOK ACCOUNT IS AN EMPTY SHELL, I KNOW MY MONEY IS GONE, BUT HOW CAN WE SAVE OTHERS FROM THIS WOMAN, WHO IS CONNING AND CHEATING PEOPLE WITH HER GORGEOUS LOOKS HER EMAIL ADD IS OLIVIAKAROUGLU@YAHOO.COM I WONDER IF ANYTHING CAN BE DONE, THANKS - IRENE

  • Smilt said

    Irene I was scammed by the same one! Said she worked on an oil rig in the Indian Ocean. And also had a business selling Segway Scooters over seas. They operated under the fake shipping company TNS24.com and then they shut down that site and started a new one SPD27.com they are both fakes!! Mr Konti Gomze acted as the shipper. They want you to send the money to Esther Mirembe via Western Union. Olivia is a man and uses a voice scrambler when you talk on the phone to try to sound like a woman. Esther is his girlfriend. They operate out of Instanbul Turkey. Yes, all the addresses are wrong to everything! Also, if you receive letters from anyone like World Bank United Nations Scam Victim Compensation Program. Saying they will pay you money for being scammed and they want you to send them a fee first it is also a scam!!

  • IRENE said

    HI SMILT

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR MESSAGE, THIS OLIVIA ANDERSON WAS IN CONTACT TILL 11TH JAN, WANTING ME TO SEND MONEY FOR A FLIGHT TO UK THROUGH WESTERN UNION, AND PROMISED TO BUY A TICKET, THINKING I WAS AN IDIOT, I WAS NAIVE AND FOOLISH THE FIRST TIME, NOT THIS TIME, THIS MAN IS THE SCUM OF THE EARTH WHO CRAWLS LOWER THAN A SNAKES BELLY, WHO LIVES ON HIS WITS BY CONNING AND SCAMMING VULNERABLE, NAIVE AND FOOLISH INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE NONE THE WISER OF HIS CON ARTISTS WAYS, HE IS USING THE PICTURE OF AN ATTRACTIVE FEMALE TO BEFRIEND HIS VICTIMS, AND THE POOR VICTIMS THINK THEY ARE INVOLVED WITH A GOOD LOOKING GIRL INSTEAD OF A MAN.
    THESE PEOPLE ARE RUTHLESS, NOT AN INCH OF REMORSE FOR THEIR VICTIMS,

    I AM LIVID WITH ANGER AND I AM GOING TO TAKE ACTION, UNBEKNOWN TO WHAT MY ACTION WILL BE, I HAVE GAINED SUFFICIENT INFORMATION TO HUNT THEM DOWN AND I WILL LEAVE NOT STONE UNTURNED, YOU HAVE MY EMAIL ADD, PLEASE EMAIL ME
    TAKE CARE
    IRENE

  • GWEN said

    Irene,I just read yours and another ladies comment about a certain woman that goes by the name of Olivia Anderson and email address is oliviakarouglu@yahoo.com.i met olivia on a date site in December of 2012 and we have been chatting since then. I believed her at first she sent me pictures of herself she is about 6 feet tall with blue eyes and brown hair and works on an oil rig in Istanbul, Turkey she is contracted out and yes she even told me about her personal bussiness she had on the side with scooters. She told me she is an only child and her father past way recently. I truly wish I would of found this site before I wired her money I wired her $500.00 she said she wanted to move to the United States and build a life with me I feel for it I should of know better. i think what finally put the red flg up for me is she kept pressing me to send the rest of the money she needed to get all her paper work processed so she can finally come to the states then recently she gave me another quote of $2000. she needed for BTA expenses before she could fly to the states. That drew a red flag up and recently I found our that there is no such thing as a BTA its all a scam. I feel like a fool..I am so sorry she took you for all that money I am sorry she took me for the amount she took me but i began to doubt them and I wondered about her because when you look at her picture her voice didnt match at all and it kinda sounded like a mans voice but I was not sure but now after reading the comments it was a man and knowing this makes me feel even worse..you are right something truly needs to ne done about this person I didnt chat with her on facebook we chatted on Yahoo messenger.I am sorry for your pain and falling for the lies she sold.
    Take Care
    Irene

  • Pete said

    We got scammed in Turkey BIG TIME. In the Kusadasi Bazaar there is a shop called Benny's Shop or Benny's Leather who are COMPLETE scam artists. They will steal from you, take your credit card details or con you into buying a very sub-par product for obscene amounts of money. They will not refund your money under any circumstances even though their products are awful. PLEASE don't fall for their snake tongued promises like we did. We are experienced travelers and we have never been scammed before. Trust me if it can happen to us it can happen to anyone, DO NOT EVEN GIVE THEM THE TIME OF DAY. Remember: Benny's Shop in Kusadashi.

  • Peter Shaw said

    My Girlfriend and I were recently scammed in Turkey and lost close to $1000. I loved Turkey but this really was uncool and stuffed up our plans somewhat.. however after about 2 weeks we managed to get out money back!! I actually write a travel blog and have written two specific posts on scams in Turkey and more specifically how we got scammed and them got our cash back, so hopefully someone else out there will find them useful and I can help another victim of being scammed. Here they are.
    Post 1: http://nomadicalsabbatical.com/scams-in-turkey-popular-turkish-scams/
    Post 2: http://nomadicalsabbatical.com/scams-in-turkey-how-to-get-your-money-back/

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