On the Road

The Best Scam

The best travel scam Road Junky has ever heard of was also the simplest.

Many travelers fly to India with the cheapest flights possible, often a rundown operation like Syrian Airlines. These operators tend to fly only once a week and though the backpacker may have a year open return, when he comes to the flight office he finds that the next available seats are in two months from now.

“No!” he cries, “You don’t understand! I have almost no money left! My visa is running out! The football season is about to begin!”

The airlines have heard it all before though and aren’t exactly moved by the sob stories of unwashed travelers.

Now in Delhi you have some of the smartest scammers around and one of them, A Kashmiri naturally, found the simplest genius scam of all. Kashmiris talk to all the travelers in the street and, upon learning of the waiting list problem, he says:

“Well, I don’t know but maybe I can help you. I don’t promise anything but I have an uncle who works at that airline. If you give me $100 I can talk to him and do all that is possible to get you on the flight next week. Like I say, I can’t promise anything so if you don’t get on you can come and see me and I’ll give you your money back.”

The traveller is desperate to try anything and parts with his $100. He doesn’t get on the next week and returning to the Kashmiri’s office he’s pleasantly surprised to find he gets his money back without any fuss at all. The Kashmiri scammer repeats his offer and, now that the traveller trusts him, he parts with the 100 bucks again.

This continues until finally the traveler’s waiting list status is upgraded, he gets his flight and goes home, imagining that maybe the extra bit of grease worked in the end. In reality, of course, the Kashmiri did nothing at all and just held onto the money until eventually a seat became available.

Simplicity to the point of genius. What a scam!

Another contender for scam of the century was this one in the Caribbean .