People to avoid, Athens
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.
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!