These are some of the street scams reported in Lebanon in the last five years, some kids or families might be really begging for survival, but you should realize that when you give money you’re also giving them a reason to stay on the street, instead try to guide them to a center or organization that will help them.
1. Crying Kid
It’s the end of the day, you’re driving or walking down a street, you spot a little kid crying out loud and holding a box of Arabic sweets (semsmiyyeh).
You stop, ask why he’s crying, his answers usually go by “I was robbed by another man who run away”, or, “my dad will beat me if I don’t bring money tonight”.
Most people get emotional at the tears of a young kid and his story, so they end up handing him 5,000, 10,000 or even 20,000 L.L and leave the scene as a good Samaritan. The truth is that the whole dad-beating story is false and that after you walk away, he will do the same scene again to other people in another area.
What to do? Simply do not give them attention, but if you insist, buy some sweets from him but do not give him plain money.
2. Car Hit
This con involves a person waiting around a parking area scouting for someone driving a luxurious car; he jumps in front of him or stands behind the car in reverse and acts like he was just hit by the car. The scheme continues with accomplices rushing to the scene, shouting to attract attention to put additional stress on the driver.
Their role is to aggravate the situation while acting like witnesses, but in fact they don’t want the police or an ambulance to get involved. Usually, the so-called victim is a child, and the intimidators a woman accompanied by a rough man who will negotiate with the rich driver on a solution in return for some cash.
What to do? When you realize it’s a trick, insist on waiting for an ambulance or the police, the hustlers will immediately loose hope in cheating you and will leave the scene.
3. The Winning Coupon
You are walking with your friends or family in a mall, a street or around a touristic area and suddenly someone approaches and hands you scratching cards and says, “This is for free, you might win”. Eventually, one of the coupons is a winner the rest is not, this is sufficient to hook you up.
His trick will cover you with unbelievable discounts and special promotions on famous hotels or resorts with a membership of 20,000 L.L (13$). The offer will turn out to be unaffordable for you with terms & conditions that will prevent you from using it, while the guy would have gained the primary fees.
What to do? Either reject their approach or take the coupons but do not scratch them and throw them away.
4. Talkative Pedestrian
You’re walking in a public area when a man stops and asks you a “technical” question. The person tries to show his authenticity by talking Arabic embedded with English or French words, a way to show you his education level. The story revolves around him having a credit card from Dubai that got blocked after 3 wrong pin entries, and that his brother works as the manager of a well-known hotel in Beirut, but he can’t pay the taxi to go see him as his card is blocked. He will then ask for any amount of cash to help him out.
What to do? Simply smile and tell him you only have credit cards and don’t deal with cash. He will thank you and walk away. (Don’t forget the sarcastic smile)
5. Gold Bargain
Most perpetrators are Syrians, whereas they target individuals and small jewelry shops offering real genuine gold at a cheaper price.
This scheme started in late 2003 after the Iraq invasion and increased with the Syrian conflict in 2011. Their justification for this bargain is that they flew Iraq and Syria with their golden chains, rings and coins and weren’t able to sell it at a market price. Many victims were duped by this too-good-to-be-true deal, especially that the fake gold was well presented by the hustler.
What to do? Whenever you see yourself offered such deal, think again, gold world price is going up while he’s offering you gold at a cheaper price.