Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Beware Scammers

Many people are cheated out of money everyday. People steal for many reasons, but stealing is never good and never justified. Stealing occurs due to inequal distribution of wealth and often promotes inequal distribution of wealth. We often hear of the Robinhood of robbers, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, but this glorified form of robbing is no more justified than the others. Rather in a perfect society those with funds should give to those who have nothing.

These children would jump in the photo in Peru then demand to be paid.

Today I sat in my office as a man came by asking for money for a prosthesis. He hobbled in with a cane and handed us a paper with a letter from the university promising a prosthetic leg if he could collect the funds. I gave him 100 KSH. Most had warned that many of these individuals will ask for money for one thing and spend it on another. On the other hand if we always see the worst in every situation, then the ones who need help will never be helped. 



Sometimes when I take the street children out for dinner or give them a goodie bag I am warned that they often have ill intentions. I usually don't give cash, if one asks me I will usually stop and buy corn or a snack on the roadside and give that to them. I wold often carry stickers in India and hand those to the street children. Street children in India don't benefit from the money you hand them, they often must give the money to the adult they work for. 



Today I recieved a text which said that someone had sent me money through MPESA (a phone linked debit account). Then I recieved a call from a frantic man asking for me to send it back, that he accidentally sent me the money. Not sure what to do I consulted a Kenyan friend. We realized it was a scam. I reported him to the company immediately. 



Scams are easy to miss, especially when you are traveling in a foreign land. Often parks with no entrance fees will ask for entry from tourists. "Genuine" souvenirs, such as the coins sold at Petra kiosks and Kashmir scarves sold in the markets of India are often fake. Street children in Kenya fill empty phone bodies with mud and sell them to passerby's for hard to resist deals. Electronic shops in Chinatown, San Fransisco will give you the specs and price for better electronics but sell you last years model. Combi's (similar to matatus or small vans used as buses) in Peru would charge double or even triple of my friends who did not speak Spanish or the bus boy's would return incorrect change. 



Careful consideration, checking what you are being sold, learning "how much?" And the numbers in another language, and consultation with a local might help you avoid these scams. In the end karma always wins. 

Be careful and travel safe. 

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