Too good to be true
January 30, 2007 4:14 AM   Subscribe

How am I being scammed? Nepali gem business deal, sounds kinda shady, help me find out where they intend to make their money.

I was approached on the street in Kathmandu by a stranger who has invited me to become a special business partner! How wonderful! He fills a DHL bag with wonderful precious gems (I get to check the bag), sends them to my address in Australia, then comes by in a month and picks them up from me, gives me $5000 cash and returns home, thus avoiding the horribly expensive import taxes, or something like that.

My only theory so far is that the bag is full of very pretty, very colourful, very worthless glass and that when he arrives he claims that I've stolen some or something along those lines, and proceeds to extort some money. Either that, or he insists on taking a photocopy of my credit card for insurance and I arrive home to find a few mysterious charges on it.

So what is it? Help me find out what's happening here. Or should I take him up on what promises to be the deal of a lifetime. Thanks for the help, mefi-pals.
posted by twirlypen to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Lol, funny I had the very same story spun to me on the steets of Kathmandu when I was a young and naive 18 year old. Fortunately I wasn't so naive as to actually buy into it.

I never got to the bottom of it but yes of course it is indeed to good to be true! -Do not even think about it. The story with me was that the jewellers did business with the Royal Family and that they did not trust the couriers - yeah right, so clearly an 18 year english guy on a street is more trustworthy than an international courier firm.

He wanted me to meetup in a private residence upstairs off the street and that is when I made the decision to stay the hell clear. I know the carrot dangling infront of you is tempting but please, be rational here, you must know in your heart of hearts that it doesn't add up.
posted by numberstation at 4:19 AM on January 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

Well known and apparently decades old scam. Stay away.
posted by dhoe at 4:51 AM on January 30, 2007

I think the poster obviously knows this is a scam and isn't going for it, they just want to know how it's done.
posted by borkingchikapa at 4:55 AM on January 30, 2007

Look for 'Travelers should be aware of a number of other scams' at this page.

Lots more out there if you google 'Kathmandu gem scam'.
posted by edd at 4:57 AM on January 30, 2007

1. indeed they will be worthless.

2. he will probably ask for your credit card information to "make a receipt, so things look official." This is the point from which you get screwed.

I had the same thing proposed to me and my friend in Manali, India. Think about it... would you do the same thing in Australia? Would any legitimate business do this? With some random person on the street? Hopefully the answer is no to all of the above.
posted by The Michael The at 5:07 AM on January 30, 2007

And, from edd's link, for your convenience:

Travelers should be aware of a number of other scams that have been perpetrated against foreign travelers, particularly in Goa, Jaipur and Agra. The scams generally target younger travelers and involve suggestions that money can be made by privately transporting gems or gold (both of which can result in arrest) or by taking delivery abroad of expensive carpets, supposedly while avoiding customs duties. The scam artists describe profits that can be made upon delivery of the goods. Most schemes require that the traveler first put up a "deposit" to either show "sincerity" or as a "down payment" or as the "wholesale cost." In other cases, the scam artists stage phone calls to the traveler from persons posing as “customs agents,” claiming that the package has been intercepted and that the traveler must pay an exorbitant customs fee in order to avoid arrest. All travelers are strongly cautioned that the schemes invariably result in the traveler being fleeced. The "gems" or "gold" are always fake, and if they were real, the traveler could be subject to arrest. Such schemes often pull the unsuspecting traveler in over the course of several days and begin with a new "friend" who offers to show the traveler the sights so that the "friend can practice his English." Offers of cheap lodgings and meals also can place the traveler in the physical custody of the scam artist and can leave the traveler at the mercy of threats or even physical coercion.
posted by The Michael The at 5:09 AM on January 30, 2007

« Older Things to do in Doha   |   Public or private? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.