This scam is run by small teams of con-artists (usually three Asian men). They operate out of respectable looking camera shops all around Benidorm. They are very good at what they do – and they make a LOT of money out of unsuspecting British tourists.
This is how it works… The first guy stands outside – chatting to passing tourists in order to lure them into the shop. He will be an expert at this – he will seem totally harmless – and you won’t want to offend him. The conversation will go something like this.
“Hi, Are you having a nice holiday? Where are you from? My girlfriend lives in Leeds. I hope to live there one day.”
“But for now I have to work here in Benidorm – not enough work in Leeds!”
He will tell you a bit about his job – how he likes it because he gets to talk to lots of British people. He will casually mention the fantastic “tax-free” bargains in his shop – and then he will make his move!
“Let me give you a brochure, just in case you’re interested.”
If you follow him into the shop (to collect a brochure or whatever) you’re history! He will shove a camera into your hands – a good camera – usually a Sony or a JVC. He will tell you the price – a price you can’t resist. He is an expert a knowing your “bargain threshold”.
“This camera costs hundreds of pounds in England – but here it’s only 90 Euros!”
Ninety Euros for a Sony Video Camera! You can’t believe your luck! And if you frown, he’ll drop the price even lower. But there is no way in a million years that he intends to let you leave with that camera for 90 Euros! Once you agree to buy the Sony his job is done. He will pass you over to his colleague – scam-artist 2.
Scam artist 2 will invite you to the back end of the shop – to process your payment. He will insist that you sit in a very comfortable chair, and he will offer you a drink (beer, wine, whatever you want).
He will take your credit card payment using an old-style credit-card machine – creating a carbon paper receipt. There are modern chip & pin card readers in the shop – but he won’t use one for this transaction because he has no intention of completing this sale. He will offer you another beer and pass you on to Scam-artist 3.
Scam artist 3 will show you how the camera works. This will take a while – “Because we don’t have instruction book in English.” He will tell you that the Sony you have “bought” is good but “slightly out of date” – and he will be keen to show you the latest thing in video cameras from some other manufacturer. You’ll say that you are happy with the Sony – but so as not to offend him you will let him to show you the latest thing. By now you will suspect that you are being conned – but everyone is so friendly and you won’t want to offend them.
Scam-artist 3 will demonstrate the difference in quality between the two cameras. He will do this by plugging them into a TV and comparing their pictures on the screen. This is part of his con – the TV is adjusted so that the Sony looks nowhere near as good as the latest thing. There will be no denying it – the latest thing is far better!
And as you watch helplessly he will do some fancy tricks on a calculator – working out your amazing discount on the latest thing – including knocking off the 90 Euros that you have already “paid” for the Sony.
By now you KNOW you’ve been had – but you are still too polite to offend these “nice guys” by walking out. Plus, the Sony has now been moved away – so you can’t just pick it up and leave,
and you believe that he already has 90 Euros of your money – so you can’t just make a run for freedom!
Scam-artist 3 will not be denied. He will separate you from at least £350 of your hard earned money for “the latest thing”. He will tear up your carbon-copy payment slip – and bring out a proper chip&pin machine to take your real payment.
And the latest thing will turn out to be a piece of junk – worth a fraction of what you paid!
These scam-artists are genuine experts at taking advantage of your “cringe-factor”. They know that you would rather part with your money than cause an embarrassing scene – and they make a fortune.
They WILL take your money if they get you into their shop – so DON’T BE LURED IN BY THE NICE GUY OUTSIDE!
NOTE: This scam doesn’t always involve cameras – it can also involve laptops, ipods, smart-phones – you name it!