People to avoid, Athens
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.
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 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.
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
Unfortunately I did not know this site before, otherwise I could have saved quite some money. I went down the way from Acropolis when suddenly an elderly guy asked me something in greek. As I did not understand him, he asked me for the time in English. I told him the time and he realized my german accent, so he started a conversation where I am from, etc. When I told him I am from Austria, he started loughing happily - he was married to an Austrian woman some years ago. He introduced himself as George - we shook hands and he continued telling about cities in Austria that he has visited, as a proof he even spoke a few words in German. Nothing strange at this point, however as he did not seem to let me go, I started wondering. George told me that he is not from Athens - he is only here for 2 weeks, but comes from Thesaloniki. He claimed to work for IKEA and asked me a lot of questions about my own job, what I do in Athens and so on. Finally he told about a nice bar round the corner that belongs to his brother. He wanted me to go there with him to give me a business card in order to return again later. Having arrived there, he showed me the hotel he pretended to live in - the "Royal Olympic". As it was just early evening he wanted to invite me to an after work beer in a nearby bar. George was really friendly, however this was the point in time when I got a bit suspicious. Latest when we entered the bar I knew that this was a trap. At 6 in the evening we were the only guests and the whole location looked more like a brothel than a normal bar you would have a drink after work. There was an asian bartender (lots of make-up, ~50y., looked like a hooker) that immediately gave me a beer. George had a Ouzo with Orange juice. Suddenly this blonde Eastern European girl mentioned in another report appeared. She sat next to me and asked me for a drink. Not waiting for the answer, the asian prepared the two of them something that was supposed to be Champagne. Even without having read the other stories before, I was now sure that I should try to get out of that situation asap. I finished my beer and asked for the bill. It was EUR 80! As a proof, the asian bartenter showed me some drink menu. I started complaining that those prices are ridiculous, unfortunately I just had a 50 EUR bill (instead of a 10EUR for my beer). She claimed that I still owe her 30 EUR, after a short discussion George pretended to take the rest of the bill. I got out of this bar as soon as I could, although I was upset I am now glad that there was no bouncer at the door that could have "claimed" the rest of the money. Please be aware when someone asks for the time - he seems to use the same trick again and again.