People to avoid, Athens
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.
Greece in General is a safe country, specially Athens with hundreds of tourists running around at night, but BEWARE of the card game scam. Its called PAPANTZIS... a 3 card game shuffle that people huddle around and bet to find the card.
In the first couple of tries it seems easy and YOU WILL FIND the card... they are trained for you to find the card. In the next few rounds though .. you will loose your share of Euros so beware of street betting.
More times then not, as you are in the huddle betting away ... an accomplise is making your pocket lighter ... taking your wallet, mobile ... etc.
Just be smart ... if it was SO EASY TO WIN .. he would not be there.
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 .
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.
Ladies be warned...if a Greek man approached you, this is called kamaki, he is trying to get to know you. And whether you welcome the attention or not...I suggest you just politely thank him and tell him go away. And dont let yourself be in a situation you dont want to be in. Ochi mean NO...
SCAM ALERT: [targets single males traveling alone]
I hate to admit being suckered into this one, but after being conned the first time, I was approached three more times (in as many days) with the same scam, so I thought it best to post it. Maybe save someone some cash.
The scam goes like this:
A man approaches you and engages you in conversation by asking for the time or for directions, etc in Greek. Once he hears that you are obviously not Greek, he asks where you are from. Coincidentally he [has been there, lived there, has a cousin who got married and moved there, went to a place near there on business last year, etc.]
He is from out of town but comes to Athens ocassionally on business. 'Hey', he says 'I know a great pub around here. Let's go get a drink.
When you get there, he'll buy you a drink. The house will buy you a drink. Everyone is very nice and friendly. The girl at the end of the bar comes over to you and shows an interest in you. She asks if you'll buy her a drink and you say 'of course' because, hey, you've been getting free drinks since you entered the place. What will be opened for this lovely and friendly girl is a very expensive bottle of Champagne (or mineral water in a champagne bottle, most likely). And you end up paying for it becase you did agree to it, after all.
The single male traveller will often be approached being offered help or being invited to a bar to make friends. More 'friends' and beautiful women will appear and they´ll eventually end up paying a huge bill at the bar.
I was approached twice in this manner but since I had already been informed about it I didn´t fall into this trap.
Something that happened to me and a friend of mine: we were looking for the tourist office (which was closed), and this guy came up to us in Sintagma Square saying he knew where the tourist office was, but that he had better info for us, all we had to do was walk into a building across the street and he'd give us info about ferries, pensions and stuff. That sounded quite strange to us, so we managed to get away. Of course the guy's reaction (he got quite mad) proved that we were right to do that.
This may sound obvious to those who have traveled around a lot, but for those who are beginners I think it is good that you hear these stories.
This one is for men. Men will enticed you to go to one of the bars or clubs(mostly likely strip joints) around Omonia. In the very least, they will charge you a fortune for drinks and worse; strippers pickpockets you or rob you. I was warned by the owner of my hotel. Surely enough, I was approached by one around the Temple of Olympian Zeus. These hustlers are very keen and read you like a book. They have props, in my case. Business cards of people from where I live. Anything to gain your confidence. I'll give these people an A+ for salesmanship.
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.
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....
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.
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.
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.
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.