Almost Victim of a Changing Scam – Mumbai, India

‘ And for a  moment I hesitated but when it got clear to me what  just happened, I got angry….really angry!! ‘

We just had an four hour journey with the train from Pune (Poona) to Mumbai and we had to go from the trainstation to the airport to get our flights at midnight. When we got out of the train there was this man, he asked if we needed a taxi. Yes, we did! He started to walk in front of us to lead us away from all the other taxis and to his taxi. He was a busy man and was yelling to different drivers and it seemed to me that he couldn’t find his man or taxi.

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Aah well, nothing is really strange in India. They don’t call it Incredible India without any reason so I didn’t really thought this was strange. But when we entered a street and got to a car that had no sign or what so ever that it was a taxi I got suspicious. I didn’t took that car. Well, the busy man had another car for us,  if we didn’t want that one…It was especially for tourists with AC but he could  arrange another one. This was a real black and yellow cab and would cost me more. Well that’s not what I thought…this one had no AC.. He finally agreed with me and I got my discount on his price.

When we got in the taxi we were surprised that the man was getting in also. Ah well…in India anything is possible. I have seen more strange situations that turned out to be true. The whole Indian world is a connection of working for and with eachother and earning money for and with eachother. So I’m not that surprised anymore.

After driving for a couple of minutes the man asked me to give him his money in advance. He wanted RS1000 and would give me RS400 in return. This was the amount we had talked about. They needed to fill up the car and that’s where he needed the money for. The metre of the tank showed empty….but that was more often the case while it was not…so you never know. Ah well, if he wanted the money and I got my change.. I had to pay him in the end so what is the differents. I had 4 papers of RS500, my dad got them this afternoon from the ATM and I gave him 2 of those.

While I gave him these notes the man said to my dad that he hadn’t closed the door properly. Because my father is a bit deaf sometimes I translated what he said. Right after this the man gave me back 2 papers, they were RS100. He claimed I gave him the wrong papers. I had meant to give him RS500 but I gave him RS100 he stated. I hesitated for a moment and checked my wallet. I saw still 2 papers of RS500. I asked my father what he had gotten out of the ATM this afternoon. He said RS2000.

The man gave my father RS400 to show he was able to give us the change he was talking about but now I had to give him the 2 RS500 which I had meant to give him in the first place. And I had to give him back the 2 RS100 also.

I got really angry. I was already agitated by the way he was acting, busy and if he was the boss of everything and now he was trying to scam me? I said the driver to pull over. After going in a side alley he did. It was a dark and silence road.

I really felt offended by him so I got out and started to yell at him. Who did he think I was? Did he really think I would fall for that? Because I was screaming loud in that empty street people came to us and wanted to know what was going on. They started to ask us questions and the man didn’t liked that at all. He said to get in the car and to keep the money. The 2 papers of RS100 I had was meant for the taxidriver and then we had paid our RS600…

I was so fed up with him…but another taxi was not easy in this neighbourhood. I asked the couple that came to us for help if we were driving in the good direction if we needed to go to the airport, coming from the trainstation.  They said that we were on the road to the airport. Well…oke we got back in to the car. The man wanted to get his RS200 but I didn’t gave that to him. I only paid the driver from now on. Two intersections along the way the man got out and disapeared into the crowd. The driver was totally lost, he didn’t know what happened and seemed to be an honoust  man. Again I saw the man walking in between marketstalls,  he tried to change money..

Just when we were off to go to the airport, after we convinced the driver we wanted nothing to do with the man anymore and we would pay him by the metre the man came back. He gave the driver RS300 and we went away. The driver brought us to the airport off the metre. He got his money.

What was our lost? It was the RS600 we had agreed on in the first place. The driver got RS500 because we gave him the 2 RS100 for his honousty and patience. The 2 I got from the man..

My father still had the RS400 which he had given us to convince us to believe him to be an honoust man so we gave him another RS1000. Which he had tried to get out of my fathers hands…but he hold on to that 🙂


How does this trick works?

I know, because of my work ofcourse, how this trick works and is used often. It’s more common in shops or supermarkets. While receiving change they’ll have other notes in their hands or under their sleeves that is a smaller amount. They try to convince you that you gave that instead of the higher amount. They get these notes quickly in front of you and you can get the impression that you did make a mistake. They probably took the money into their sleef or in the other hand.

They also use some kind of decoy to distract you. In our case he tried to distract us by saying my father hadn’t closed his door the right way. They just need that second that you’re not watching them or has your mind elsewhere. When you don’t act conciously you can probably not exactly recall what you gave. You tend to believe the other. They use this hesitation to turn it into their benifit. They will act  defended if you say you did gave them the right amount, which means you say they are lying. Most of the time we tend to not want to insult a person and so you’ll give in.

I was happy to be alert. I did see what he was doing. I knew exactly was I had in my wallet. Exactly how many notes of RS500… this was our last day in India so we had to count several times, our last Rupias!!

Next to that I got out of the car to make a scene. It was a quiet street but that quickly ended! People came up to us, the man started to feel ashame. He knew he was wrong. I was so angry and insulted andd was 100% convinced of me being right. This shows in my verbal and non verbal expressions. He must have felt that I wasn’t going to back down and that he had to.

I do think it is a shame that my last encounter with India is this one. But I am  glad to have experienced this myself and know for a fact that I was alert. I did control this guy and the situation!



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