I heard about scams involving an attractive girl trying to get men into bars, so I was unprepared for an old man.
He was old, wears glasses, has hair on the sides and back, but bald up top, about 5 feet 5-6inches. He'll seem geniunely friendly, tell you about his Greek restaurant where he has live greek music, and ask all about you. He wanted me to give me the address of his resturant so I could have dinner there later complimentary. He leads me to a nondescript bar about 2 blocks south of Syntagma. Its dark inside. Two bartenders, an older asian lady and a younger brunette who was maybe a "7". "Nikolas" tells one to get me an ouza-orange juice mix. Its strong. The brunette asks if "she can have one drink with me." Nikolas disappears while this brunette smalls talks with me...he comes back with the address his restaurant, then leaves again saying he'll be right back.
5 more minutes of small talk with the brunette, I realize this is scam! I'm only halfway done with the first ouza drink but the asian lady already has poured me another one! I quickly say I need to go to meet with a friend. The asian lady says the bar tab is 50 euro for 3 drinks! 20 euro for the brunette's champagne, 10 euro for each ouza drink(neither of which I had directly asked for), and a 10 euro "commission" for the brunette! I tell them I know this is a scam and that all I have his 30 euro on me. They politely argue that the bill is 50, and the brunette offers to walk me to an ATM.
Luckily, there was no giant guy to block the doorway as I've read in other similar scams. I leave my 30 euros and run out the door!
Lesson? Avoid all old Athenian men acting friendly to you!
I was a victim of the bar scam back in Summer 2008, by the same white-hair, mostache, friendly George that we can see in the photo taken by user JB10. It's pretty similar to others reported here, as the pattern is very clear and well-known:
Here they get into it more in detail, although with a different "George":
It seems there are some variations of the scam, although all follow the same pattern. As I said, I was approached by JB10's "George", although people in the forum (and the last website) report other men so-called George with similar profile and role.
In my case, I was spending just some hours in Athens as I was in transit. As a young male traveller, with a small trolley suitcase, walking alone in the centre of Athens, I was a very good target I guess. The very friendly George approached me and stayed a long time with me, talking about many stuff, guiding me to several ruins in the way that he helped me photograph (although he strictly rejected me taking a photo of him). It seems they don't mind spending a lot of time with you just for you to trust them and fall in the scam. At some point he offered me to have a drink and he guided me to a place called "Love bar" or "Love pub" or something like that (I think the first one). I don't know if later they changed the name to "Hollywood Bar" (as my experience happened 5 years ago) or if it was another place. Dark and empty, we sat in a table of four, George in front of me. Soon two girls sat with us, and each started talking with one. I was confused about the whole thing, but George would calm my fears and soon he (and his girl) moved to another table where I could not see them directly. I would stay talking with the beautiful and friendly black girl and of course she would ask me to pay her a drink and pushed me to ask for the same thing also. I refused to get drunk as I had to come back to the airport in a few hours, but I accepted paying hers and asking a small thing for me. She drank fast and eventually she managed me to ask for four of them for her, while she would complain I'm drinking very slow. When I realised I had to come back to the airport and I asked for the bill, it was a huge amount which I dont recall exactly (>200€ surely). George had left already, and a big and tough man would bring the bill and ask me to pay it. When I said I had not enough money, he accompanied me to the nearest ATM machine. As I had my trolley I had no way of running way, and I paid. Seeing the report from user "dziechu", now I see that calling police wouldn't have helped much, as I was very tight in time.
Keywords for other victims to find this: bar scam, love bar, hollywood bar, fraud, trick, cheating, expensive drinks, beautiful girls, tourism.
Thanks a lot for this website, which I found searching for information on this scam, and I was so glad to see the moustache-George photo here, so other travellers can be aware. It would be fantastic if others can add more photos and documentation to break up their scam business.
As a young, solo male traveller in Athens for the summer months, I have come to realise that I am a very easy target for scammers. In the time it took to get from the airport to my hotel I was approached twice. I must have looked particularly vulnerable dragging my luggage through the streets. One man approached me near McDonalds opposite the Greek Parliament building. He was a thoroughly uncharming man and when he offered me to "show" me to my hotel I instantly walked away from. He has since approached me twice since my arrival asking for "a talk". I'm not entirely sure what his motive is, but just ignore him and walk away. He typically wears a blue, scruffy shirt, is fat and balding, and carries a water bottle with him. My next scammed was another man who offered to "show" me my to my hotel. He pointed me in the roughly the right direction, yet urged me to enter his "rock cafe" to give me his card. I promptly declined and walked away. Nevertheless, two shop-owners were genuinely helpful in directing me to my hotel. For the most part though, make your way quickly to your accommodation and ignore anyone who tries to offer you help. On my second day I was also approached by a suspicious man on the benches near the fountain in front of Zappieon Hall. I cannot totally be sure of his motives. He asked if I had a lighter (I didn't) and proceeded to sit next to me. He then asked me questions such as "do you have a girlfriend?" and "do you have friends here?". I believe he may have either been hitting on me or wanted something else from me. I said I had to go and left. He did not follow me. Finally, I encountered "Acropolis George" who attempted his usual routine of asking the time. I pretended I didn't speak English and walked away having recognised him from this site. NOTE he has grown a moustache, perhaps in response to people taking photos of him and putting them on the Internet. Overall I have become generally distrustful of people who approach you in the city centre. Particularly older men who prey on naive-looking male Travellers.
Athens is a very, very dangerous place these days. Although I wasn't too concerned about the riots, I didn't expect to be physically assaulted. While on a train, a man grabbed my pen**s and tried to kiss me. When I told him to back off, he pulled out a gun and ordered me to sodomize him at a nearby hotel. After we checked into the hotel, the sheets were dirty from previous lovemaking, and after I had let him split me open like a coconut he wouldn't even cuddle me. Next year I'm going to Egypt instead.
Ok, so I have to admit I fell for George the dinner/drinks scammer hook line and sinker at first. I knew something was up when he asked me the time and took me to what he said is his restaurant. I forget the exact one. But they must have been in cahoots as they were totally playing up the I'm the waiter who is so scared of the owner barking at me in Greece. He's a fairly tall wiry old man with steel gray and white hair and a really funky nose, boomy rasp voice not in the greatest of health. Says he's 58 but looks talks and moves more like 75 and has rotten teeth. He has the marks of a barely literate, or illiterate Greek Islander. He could not read nor write anything I asked him to, in Greek or English.
So just like the others he had a story this time about being an oil man in Houston years ago and now in Saudi Arabia. The dinner I have to say was amazing, and the conversation good to a point. I figured might as well play this out since I'd be dining alone anyhow. So, The bill for 79 Euro for a nice piece of fish and I'm sure they charged me for the wine and salads he took part in too. I only had 75 so I offered to have the 'owner' show me to the ATM and I would pay in full with tip. But the nervous waiter just took my 75 and thanked me for my patronage. At this point as George entered me into the famous Hollywood bar I was presented with an attractive friendly Polish woman who served me a VERY stiff Greek drink. The all of a sudden she was gone replaced by some fat slob Greek guy at the bar and a rather portly Russian/Greek (hooker I'm almost sure) girl appeared and started to really work me at the bar and was really interested in me. She is now quite fat and engorged from consuming so many alcoholic drinks there. I wouldn't even "do" her for free. Being from a Mediterranean culture myself I was always suspicious and purposefully planting false info such as when she asked how much I make in the states (George did too) and what my birthday is. I never used my credit card and the bill was 70 Euro for about 4 drinks. The Russian volunteered herself two of them. She did ask "may I have a drink" and I cut her off after the second one and she was kind of dispirited that I only sipped on my stiff Greek Whiskey drink and showed no signs of drunkenness afterward. I wondered if they put stuff in the drinks to make people vulnerable. Still worried that George might be somehow connected to the Greek Mafia I decided to just pay and leave cordially as this money is well within my means and I didn't want to get beat up on my first night in Athens. Then George made some drunken ruckus about wanting to go clubbing like he was 20 when we left and I told him to *** off and go screw those ugly hookers.
All in all I had a good time playing the game but should have bailed before Hollywood. If these guys were real mafia they would have waxed the floor with me, but I later dressed down the people at the restaurant in front of everyone, and the big fat Greek slob who came out, the REAL owner looked like the Mafia type so I didn't press my luck from there.
***UPDATE**** Revenge time!
Ran into "George" again in front of Hadrians Arch for the second time sitting on a bench. He acted like he would get physical so I chased him and nabbed his photo, told him I'd break his face in several places if he tried anything I taunted him in Greek and English curses in front of a crowd which was good enough to get him to turn around and nab a pic. He then very nervously ran as I chased him down the temple of Zeus by Hadrians Arch and he actually ran across a very busy street without a crosswalk to get away from me, as I cursed him out some more and told him he's going live on the Internet!! I also egged the motorcyclists on to run him over. In Athens crossing traffic without a crosswalk is a pretty unsafe game. One local guy thanked me for humiliating him saying he deserves it for doing what he does. Revenge is sweet!!
This guy pretended to be an out of town tourist from Venice, Francesco. Says to have one drink with him after doing a pretty good job proving that he was from Venice, that may be the only true part of his story. He will take you to a bar called "Hollywood Pub" and order a drink and ask you what you want. I ordered a drink and then the girl, who I thought was the shop owner came and sat by us and asked if we would buy her a drink. I thought nothing of it and the guy prodded, so I said "yes." After one drink, I insisted that I have to go and then got the bill for 220 Euros. I ended up getting most of my money back except for 40 Euros, but I got a picture of the guy that scammed me.
I was also taken by George in 2010 and later that summer met a second person he had scammed. I have met George on subsequent trips and have found him quite the lovable old rascal. I even introduced him to my adult son on a recent trip as "the guy I told you about who ripped me off!" We then had a jovial conversation during which George tried more than once to get us to go to the bar with him. I would laugh and tell him "Okay, but you pay this time, right?" He would laugh and respond, "Let's have a drink and talk about it, okay?" When I pointed out that my last drinks with him had been VERY expensive, he laughed and said "That was a long time ago! Let's go have a drink and talk about it!!" He was so jovial that I almost took him up on it!
Despite the money that I lost, I still view him with amusement and, yes, affection. He is such a lovable old scoundrel, I can't help myself.
He is so smooth and likable and so beautifully dressed, he very much fits the image of a gentleman businessman. At our first meeting, I too was told that he was an exporter of oranges. He told me that his son was in the Greek air force and that he had visited him in the US at an American Air Force base while his son was part of a military exchange program.
Back in 2010 I had planned a complex revenge, but I didn't see him before I left the country that time, so a good friend had to carry out his own plan on my behalf. My friend ran into George and recognized him from my description. He declined George's invitation to the bar and suggested dinner instead. When they sat down at the restaurant that George had suggested, my friend told the waiter the George was paying. The waiter went over and whispered to George, who promptly got up and trotted off. Good play, Tristan.
Hello All. Been there. They wanted to rob me in bright day light as well. I met a guy, he said he's a tourist from Italy, he went my direction so we talked for a bit. He offered a dring in a pub nearby. And it was near, so I agreed - why not have a nice cold drink in the hot. We went into Hollywood Pub. I ordered an Ouzo, he too, then the waitress joined and asked if we could buy her a drink -we agreed to share the bill. Little chit-chat and the bartender brings a bill for 300 EURO. The Guy takes out 150 like nothing happened. I say -it's way too much. They block my way out and want me to pay. Luckily I had 50 EUR with me and gave them only 30 from my one pocket. But they wanted more, so I sy I'm calling the police. They won't let me use the phone. So what I do, is I push away the bartender away, jump the table and chairs and run out of the place. I find a policeman, ask for help, but he only points me to the police station to search for help there. Overall long story with the police and a couple of hours lost, but in the end after some more sightseeing I return early evening to that pub and call the police station where I was earlier as we agreed with the lady officer that if it would be open she would send a patrol there. It was open, police arrived after 45 mins!!! The bartender was fu**ing surprised to see me and the police. There was no discussion, as soon as he saw me he had my 30 EUR in his hand to give it back to me. All in all- a happy end, could have ended differently had they drugged me. Maybe a lesson learned for them and will think twice before trying to fu*k a Polish tourist again :) Police told me they know about it but....it's Greece, so what can u expect.
I recently met the same men George, and I was ripped off in much the same way. I am actually surprised there are that many topics on it here, so this scam must be widespread.
For me it went much the same way as said before. This old men came to me in the neighboorhood of Syntagma Square, gave me a hand, and started to talk to me. I immediately had the gut feeling that he wanted something from me but I let him talk. He acted surprised when I said I was from Holland, and he acts flabbergasted about how much I look Greek. He actually knew a lot of details about my country, said he was married to a Dutch lady, and has a son who studies there. The names, Dutch cities he tells you about, it all checks out. Then indeed he told me some story about business in oranges which I didn't understand, and after a while he says let's go for something to drink. Again my instinct says don't do it, and I was afraid he is gonna let me pay for his drink. Again foolishly I said ok. After a while we arrive at the Hollywood bar, empty, a blond older woman behind the bar, and he says let's sit down. I ordered a beer, he takes orange juice. Indeed, he whispers something in the ear of a girl sitting there (probably an eastern-european prostitute, I realized afterwards). Also indeed, the fat guy enters the bar. Girl took place next to me and asked me "do you buy me a drink". Gentle as I wanted to be, I said ok, although I found it strange. Then she came with a bottle in a bucket, and started drinking. She kept talking and talking, acted really interested in anything I said. After a while I asked what are you drinking, "Champagne" she said nonchalant. That's when I realised that I was gonna have to pay for my stupidity. Soon after that the blond older woman brings the handwritten bill, 10 for the beer, 160 for the champagne, and shows me the menu to proof her point. I said, I'm not gonna pay for that. The whole atmosphere changed from extremely polite to mildly agressive. Then after some words they said I can pay 40 and fat man gets in my way. I instinctively acted defensive so to let him think, if you touch me I hit you back (I'm 24). Then he got out of my way, and I threw a 20 euro bill (the lowest that I had unfortunately, I wanted to pay 10) on the counter and walked away, in the meanwhile them shouting and calling me names. Again stupid, I should have left without paying, but I wasn't used to these situations.
The lesson to be learnt from this is simple. Ofcourse these people are lowlife scum, but I have foremost myself to blame. I accepted everything, the drink etc. I had the gut feeling at several times that this couldn't be right, but I ignored it. That's why I had to pay, and I consider it learning money. While 20 euros is still too much, I had the luck there weren't any trained guys in front of me like in other experiences I have read, because I might have been intimidated into paying a lot more.
People like this are profesional scammers, they can identify people who may fall into the trap, don't fall into it. Trust your instinct, when something seems too nice to be rationally true, it usually is.
Well, I met Stefano near the Akropolis and Zeus temple. He asked me to take a picture of him. He told a lot about his italian hometown. And finally, within 5 minutesm, he lead me also to the holliwood bar. So in fact only this warning: Avoid the holliwood bar!!! I lost about 100 euros there....
Last year I had a similar experience. I also was ripped off at the Hollywood bar. I didn't meet George, but I remember the fat guy. I don't know why this is allowed in Greece. The police didn't want to help me, so it is a legal way to make money in Greece. Be aware if you go to this city.
Yes as promised I tracked down George and the Fat Man.
The attached photograph shows them as chums and partners on the Acropolis Museum way.
I watched them in action. George does the touting. Fat man follows if the net is sprung.
George is so smooth and plausible if he catches you (literally) unawares. He is so nervy and agile with his walking cane and cravat or tie that you couldn't but be fascinated by him. But cast your eyes around for the fat man on the sidelines... Then get out of there as quick as yhou can.
The joint George will lure you to is called HOLLYWOOD (about 5 mins brisk walk away) and is on the corner of Skoufu and Nikis streets in the Plaka district. Its a small bar that had no customers when I checked it out at 10pm on a Saturday night. The Fat Man pulled the shutters at 10.30pm and went off with the 20s girl in the direction of the Acropolis underground station where I lost them
George is by no means the only tout on the Acropolis beat but he is the most noticeable and the most plausible. I saw him leading off two American teenagers to his honeypot. Hope they managed to get out of his clutches with some cash left.
I challenged George to his face (he didn't remember me) and told him he was going to be published on the internet. He protested that he was 'a businessman' and 'didn't care'. I might send his reviews to the HOLLYWOOD address!
Tell him you read about him here.
Yes - George of the Acropolis and locality is a real person and I can prove it. See the attached photo.
Today while making my sunburned way towards the Theatre of Dionissos on Dionissiou Areopagitou, I was hailed by a well dressed and tanned elderly man - first in Greek and then in English. Something about the Acropolis. Sounded like he was asking me a question. He then flatteringly told me I looked Greek (far from true) and asked me where was I from etc etc. He stood chatting to me about himself (he was an exporter of oranges!) asked me how old Iwas (again flatteringly told me that I don't look 60 (true). He claimed that he was 75 (possible) and i had to admit he too looked younger. But he admitted not to be fit...needs a hip replacement and his three brothers died in a car accident and other such confidences. He began talking religion and politics and started addressing me as 'brother'. Charming old chap. I was waiting for the sob story and the request for cash. it didn't come. He suggested we go for a drink...did I have time? Where was my hotel? What was I doing tomorrow etc. Could he invite me to his home tomorrow for a meal with his wife.... i was bemused but catious.
I saw no harm in indulging the old chap thought I might learn something about local life. He led me down some off the main track streets, past the Hadrian's arch and and seemed to pick a small corner cafe bar near Nikis Street or that area. He led the way in to the back. There were no customers. After some chat he insisted in showing me a photocopy of his passport which showed a possibly younger darker haired man but the date of birth was 1936. His walled seemed to have a number of €100 notes which he wanted me to see. He ordered an 'orange and ouzo' and I a cappucino. After a short time we were joinmed by the two barmaids. One was about 26 the other more than 30; the older one was called Ioulia. They asked if we wouyld buy them a drink...a here it comes I thought. George, acted as if he were caught off guard but half heartedly accepted the offer saying we would split the bill. the girls had three drinks of what might be interpreted as champagne but was unlikely to be anything but fizzy water or a drop of Cava wine. They drank quickly. Then the big fat guy presents the bill...€100 + on a hand writtren chit...one for each of us! Yes €200 for the lot. George seemed uncomfortable and started mopping his brow but forked out one of his €100s. I refused and shook my head. There was the usual production of the 'price list' etc. The cheapest drink 'even for Greeks' was €15. I stupidly decided to cut my losses and give €50 and clear off.
George took me out on the street paternally and was philosophical about his loss. He likes girls. He loves Greece etc but his heart (now!) is weak. Began crocodile crying... I said 'You had bettter go and get your money back. He shrugged and began warning me of rip-off taxis etc! He was going to see me back to my hotel but I declined. So he darted off. Funny thing I noticed that the fat guy from the bar seemed to be on the street too. Returning his cash? Sure a great scam.
Tomorrow I'll find the exact location of the rip-off joint and will publish it here.
Beware of old charming Greeks bearing (or promising) gifts!
I was not aware of the bar scam, but managed to see this first hand. I bumped into an elderly gentleman called George not far from the acropolis underground who looked impeccable - he had a nice tag watch (probably fake), lots of money in his wallet and very well dressed. He told me the acropolis was closed for the day (this was around 5pm) and so suggested he buy me a drink nearby and tell me more about it's history. Regrettably I trusted his kind face and followed him to a small cafe in the plaka area. Weirdly enough he took me to an empty cafe, near the back and offered me a drink, then this girl behind the bar sits down with us and asks us to buy her a drink (champagne). After my OJ, her big fat boss walks in and hands us the bill. €210 each!!!! I of course was shocked so I got up and wanted to leave, but the big guy was in my way. George of course paid his €210, but I only coughed up €20 as I kept my other euros in a hidden pocket and then ran for my life!!! The fat boss wanted to take my credit card!!! Beware of this old man near the acropolis! The message here is don't be stupid and DON'T TRUST ANYONE!!!!
This bar scam has been happening in Athens for years, and they do such a good job that even a seasoned traveller can be scammed. After getting money from an ATM I went shopping, and happened to ask a random person for directions to a store. He gave me complicated directions which I could not follow, and then said - "Come, I show you." One thing leads to another and we start talking. He then says that his family owned bar is near by and invites me for a drink. I don't know why I went and kick myself. I was given a full bottle of Heinekin and asked to remove the cap myself and pour myself a glass. I'm not sure whether the drugs were in the beer or the glass. They scammed me 4 ways. 1. Beautiful woman asks me to buy her a drink, I comply, she leaves, bar tender says she ordered the finest champagne on the list. 2. Bar tender takes my 5,000 Drachma Bill and swaps it for a 500, I'm drugged so I don't think twice and give him another $5,000. 3. Prostitutes proposition me, I say no, prostitutes go away. 4. Bar tender doesn't have change, asks me to pay with exact change. Person next to me puts their money on the table and offers to make change for me. Being drugged, I lay my cash on the table, big bills get exchanged for small bills, suddenly I have exact change to pay with. Being drugged, I barely realize that I'm being completely swindled. 5. Drugs wear off, I call them on the scam, demand money back, get mad. everyone in on the scam tries to calm me down, says that the "tourist police" are being called (I later learn that there is no such animal). I walk out and am blinded by the sun, due to whatever they drugged me with. I stagger through the streets, running, scared out of my mind about being arrested, being followed, and having lost a lot of money. I jump on trains, in taxis, etc. and eventually land back at my hotel. Frankly, I feel lucky to be alive and can't believe how stupid I was. I went back the next day to try and find the place but was unable to. It was somewhere North of Placa, the main tourist trap shopping area near the old neighborhoods leading up to the Acropolis. I was somewhere near the new underground subway station that was being built at the time (it was either during 1999 or 2000)