People to avoid, Athens
As a local all these dudes look very suspicious. Holiwood bar seems too low class I wouldnt (and nobody I know) visit a place like that. There are GREAT bars etc . https://www.google.gr/search?q=bar+%88%85%81%817&espv=2&biw=1920&bih=936&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=bEZGVK63Dem57gaZ5oDgAg&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAQ#tbm=isch&q=bar+187D1
You can even take metro and go to halandri etc . Avoid all these scammers.
Everybody who tries to offer help shouldnt be trusted. Also dont stay at public spots still as you become a target. You should keep moving .
I was actually looking for a bar in Athens a couple of years ago when an old guy came up to me on the street and told me to check out the bar he was heading to, which just happened to be the Hollywood bar. I had 2 glasses of bourbon and coke and I got charged $150 Euro!! A huge bouncer appeared from out the back to block the exit ensuring I would pay the full amount before I could leave.
I walked back and found the bar the next day:
And I found the old guy trying to hussle more tourists: http://www.igeekden.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Greece-681.jpg
I am happy to say I avoided scams due to common sense and the tips on this board. Thanks to all. That Francisco guy definitely approached me a few days ago near the acropolis. He was posing as an Italian tourist. Italy jersey, glasses, fanny pack, etc... He kept trying to talk to me and followed me a bit, trying to engage me and find out information about me. Just ignore him, and if he persists tell him you don't want to talk to him, and if necessary, you will call the police. He will slink back in the gutter from whence he came :) strangers who are determined to speak with you want something. Often either to manipulate you or distract you while someone else releives you of your wallet. Normal people just aren't that interested in strangers. Also, use a money belt, and carry a "dummy wallet" with nothing important in it as a decoy. If you keep your eyes open, and take precautions, you will have a great time. And don't let this scare you from talking to people! Just be cautious, and if you are asked to go somewhere, suggest an alternate arrangement in surroundings you trust. If it is a normal person, odds are they will acquiesce, or meet up with you later on.
Like many others, crossing Syntagma Sq I was approached by a man in his 60s (Nickolas- well dressed, short grey hair, bald on top and black glasses) asked me for the time and indicated his brother had a restaurant near my home town. I've visited Athens countless times for family reasons and his story and friendliness were plausible. Physically forced into his cafe and abadononed with- I use the term 'woman' very loosely to describe this person- imagine the nastiest, ugliest whore of a female and you are close to her description- forced to pay €40 for drinks I did not order I left only to walk around the corner to the nearest police station.
'George and the fat guy' are well known to the police and originally shut down at their Hollywood Pub operation but now work out of Cafe El Greko- I have pressed charges and will fly back to Athens to testify in court. I don't have much faith in Greek police- to be totally sure I have also reported them to the Ministry of Tourism and British embassy- both are extremely concerned and will investigate independently. Tourism is the #1 industry in Greece so these instances are taken very seriously- please report them! Greek people are renowned for their friendliness and this is my experience on countless trips which makes it all the more sickening that these animals exploit this. These low-lifes picked the wrong 'xenos' to rip off, I will put them out of business.
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.