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Crimes Targeting Single Male Travelers


Ken Grubb
  • Turks are naturally hospitable and helpful to foreigners, and quick to strike up a conversation with a stranger. But you may encounter someone who uses that gift of gab to get you into a bad situation, including taking you to a bar where you are left with an exorbitant bill or even drugged and relieved of your valuables. Some Turkish men patrol public transportation hubs, cafes, bars, and other places where people gather, looking for single male travelers to victimize. Here are the usual scenarios.

A Turkish man spikes the drink of an unsuspecting foreigner in a bar in Turkey.New Traveling Friends

One or more men will find a reason to start a conversation, by asking you the time or saying something to you in Turkish. When you reply, they will address you in English. Coincidentally, they will be going your way or offer to show you around. They may even travel with you for a while. At some point they will offer you candy or gum laced with a knockout drug. On a train or bus, it will appear to everyone else that you simply went to sleep. Then at an opportune moment, they will relieve you of your money, credit cards, and anything else you have of value. They may even claim your luggage.

Let's Go to a Bar I Know

In this scenario, a one or more men will approach you and talk about a great bar he wants to take you to, where there are beautiful women. The workers at the bar will also be in on the scam. Some of these bars are called paviyon or gazino (not to be confused with "casino".

Paviyons and Gazinos can range from hole-in-the-wall bars to extravagant night clubs. They have women working there as "hostesses," who chat up the male customers and get them to spend as much money as possible. The price for your drink will probably be at least double what you would normally pay, and drinks bought for the women may be five to eight times more expensive than usual. They are actually legitimate businesses, even with their outrageous prices. What your new friend(s), and the bar owner will be counting on is that you don't know this.

After an evening with your friend and whatever women sit at your table, your friend will disappear and the bill will come. It may be 1,000, 2,000, or even 3,000 TL, and they will demand immediate payment. Because you probably won't know exactly where you are, you will be at a complete disadvantage. If you don't have the cash, they will demand your credit card and run the charge on it, and even walk you to the nearest bank machine to take out cash to pay the bill. Your new friend will return later to the bar get his commission.

Technically, this isn't illegal. Someone stiffing you with a bar bill doesn't really rise to the level of a crime. If you were to ask the price of the drinks first, and make it clear that you were not buying drinks for your friend or any of the women, the barman will probably just be disgusted, the women will go sit somewhere else, and your friend will storm off to find another victim. That is, unless they spike your drink.

Drink Spiking

In this case, you will be taken to a bar exactly as in the previous scenario, but at some point either the barman or one of your "friends" will spike your drink with a knockout drug. When aroused, you will be highly open to suggestion. You will then be taken to the office and relieved of your cash and credit cards, then taken to a bank machine, and instructed to withdraw as much money as you can.

When you wake up the next day, who knows where, you won't remember anything. Your credit cards will be in your wallet, and you won't know how bad the damage is until you get a credit card bill for hundreds or thousands of dollars.

If you do happen to run in to your "friends" again, or return to the bar, they will tell you that you became very drunk, acted horribly, and bought drinks for everyone in the bar over and over again. They will do this to lessen the chance that you will report what happened, and hope you will just forget about it.

How to Keep from Being a Victim

Never put anything in your mouth which is offered by new acquaintances. Say you're on a diet, don't like candy or gum, or put it somewhere "for later." Throw it away as soon as you have a chance. Make an excuse, say you have friends waiting for you. Or just leave offering no explanation at all.

Rather than go to the place they want to take you, insist on going to a mainstream bar or cafe in a public place, of your choosing. If they balk at this idea and keep trying to talk you in to going to their bar, it's a sure sign that they have bad intentions. Get away from them.

If You Become a Victim

Report it to the police. If you have simply been stiffed with an exorbitant bill, the police may or may not act. But it may also be that the police are fed up with this particular bar and are just waiting for the next case to do something about it. A police report will also help getting your money back from the credit card company.

If you have been drugged, the drug typically used is metabolized quickly by the body, but may still be present in your blood the next day. The police may or may not have you give a blood and urine sample. That will all depend on how serious the local police take it. They may just say "you should have been more careful" and do nothing, but if you don't report it, it is certain that they will do nothing.

Contact your credit card company and explain what happened. In one case, a man in Adana, who was taken to paviyon, drugged, and had unauthorized charges racked up on his card returned to the bar. He obtained the price of the various drinks, then informed the credit card company that he would have to have bought 400 cognacs (their most expensive drink) or some 3,000 beers in the three hours he was there (using testimony of workers at bar where he was previously and the time of the charge to frame the time). The credit card company disapproved the charges and refunded all of his money.


See Also

Crime, Safety, and Terrorism in Turkey Forum: If you have questions or comments about this topic, please post them in our forum.


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