People to avoid, Athens
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.
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!!
Thanks for all the tips.
Because of that I was able to avoid problems and was surprised when I have seen one of this grey hair old guys trying to scam someone.
I have took a picture of him for a record and future reference.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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...
People no longer find this entertaining, with the HIV danger around.
In addition the town planning authorities have changed Athens quite drastically in the early eighties, from what it used to look like before.
Given the dangers with sex-tourism, for the reason explained, it is only a myth continuated for obviously political purposes.
The "kamaki tip" writer is -probably- a member of some hostile group.
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.