Bodh Gaya Scams

#1 Apr 16th, 2010, 00:59
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  • burntcloth is offline
#1
Here in Bihar, the poorest state in India, folks are desperate for money, so they get creative.

The most common is playing on the goodness of all those visitors drawn to the Buddha's place of enlightenment.

1. Fake monks begging. I watched a Vietnamese monk under the bodhi tree chastising a group of Indian "monks" for hanging around and never practicing. I had to admire her though, rather than attempting to convince them to stop the misrepresented begging, she was trying to convince them to seriously become monks!

2. Kids who hang out and chat with you, and insist they aren't begging, maybe only practicing their English. After 5 or 10 minutes, when you've become friends, they ask you to buy them something like a cricket ball, or a dictionary they can use in school. Later, they take these goods back to the store who gives them part of the money back.

3. Schools. Somebody (usually a kid) wants to show you their school, which of course, is in appalling condition. Then you meet the head teacher, who tells you about the school, shows you pictures of other Western tourists who have visited or taught here, and then asks for a donation. Locals assured me that most of those schools never see that money. Especially at the school located next to the Sujata Village stupa.
#2 Nov 2nd, 2010, 19:03
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  • jennc is offline
#2

Scams all over the place in Bodhgaya

Perhaps as a single woman I was an ideal target, but I came in contact with scam after scam:
  • A college kid who seemed to legitimately live next door to where I was staying (Root Institute) who had been kind to me earlier and literally jumped into my bicycle rickshaw and asked if he could practice English with me. He went with me to Mahabodha Temple and told me about all the sites and about buddhism. Then he asked me if I was interested in a palm reading (I said I was). He pressured me to go get it right away, and the palm reader told me about my palm and then told me what my "lucky" stone was. Then they told me there was no charge, but perhaps I would like to buy something from the shop. They tried to get me to order a ring made with a precious stone that would "help my nature" on the spot. The kid was pretty pushy about it, and told me it would help a local school--he even showed me a printout with a picture of a school and hindi on it. It was very hard to tell what was what--it's possible this kid believed what he was telling me, but I didn't order the stone--I did buy some prayer beads, which I wanted and were not so highly priced. He wanted to take me around to all the local sights on his motorbike and "be friends" but was sure to point out the sweater and motorbike other foreigners had given him as thanks.
  • Of course, there were the kids who seemed very interested in me asking me to go to their school.
  • On my way to a local cafe, a kid helped me find my way and then asked if I'd buy him food. I did, and he ate a big bowl of soup. He told me about his family--his father was dead, his brother was working at this restaurant. I enjoyed having him hang out with me. He was very curious about me and what I was doing. I stayed at this cafe for a while, using the internet. Later, a guy who said he was the owner of the cafe came over and chatted me up. He seemed very genuine and nice, but told me if kids ask me to go to their schools I should always go (pretty sketchy). He also told me that this boy was very interested in being educated but did not go to school, but he's looking for someone to help pay for it. Later, an American couple showed up who were actually there inspecting schools their foundation sponsors (they checked out on the web) and they seemed to feel this owner was a good man, but I was told later by another boy that the man scams foreigners out of money. So confusing!

    Later, the little fatherless kid told me about how cold he gets at night and he has no sweaters and sometimes charitable foreigners buy him things. I didn't bite, but as I was leaving he asked me for 10 rupees, for "medicine." I gave in and gave him the money, even though I knew it wasn't for medicine. I don't really blame kids like that for playing it up to "rich" foreigners, but I've read since then that when you buy things they often take it back for a refund of a smaller amount.
  • Then there was the most heart-breaking and confusing one of all. I was tired of feeling like a walking ATM, so I pretty much hid for the next day, only going to Mahabodhi temple to walk around. I saw two little kids dressed in monks' garb, who giggled and grinned and let me take their photo. They showed me the 7 places of Lord Buddha around the temple, and I enjoyed their company. We ran into their father, also a monk (or so it seemed), and he seemed very nice. They asked if I was going to be going to the Japanese temple, and I did plan to go there. They said it was near where they lived, so we went together. They offered to pay for the rickshaw ride, but I objected.

    They suggested that since we're friends now perhaps we could get pictures made: one for them and one for us, by the professional photographers there. I asked how much it was, and they said it was 60 rupees. I suspected at this point that they got a kickback from this, but thought it was a very low amount (US$1.50) to risk and it was possible that they were genuine. The older boy told me about how many scammers there are in Bodhgaya and how I was safe with him (an obvious red flag that I ignored--every single one of these people told me that).

    Later, they asked if I wanted to go to their home. I should have said no, but I did go, and met their mother and grandmother. Soon after their father showed up and asked me to sponsor their education. They showed me all their pictures of them with foreigners (single women, mostly), and told me their sob story about how bad government schools are (this is true) and how the father's one goal in life is to educate his children. They told me about how other foreigners had not turned out to be real friends because they didn't give them anything, but one woman did buy them a dictionary. At this point I wasn't absolutely sure if it was real or not--they were a family of 6 living in a one-room hut... But the stories seemed too well-rehearsed and when I told them I would look into it, the older kid asked me if I'd give him money for a bike "today." It sounded like a fund drive. I declined, and left. There are organizations that help kids who can't get educations, and I suggested to the boy that I could try to act on his behalf through one of the organizations. He told me most of the organizations are scams (this is also true).

It seems that so many people have two sides here. Perhaps some are legitimately good, or needy, but they when it comes to foreigners it seems like their main goal is to take advantage. It's a delicate relationship and one that troubles me--I indeed am rich compared to that family in a one-room house. But how do you know you can trust that the money is being used for its purpose?
#3 Nov 3rd, 2010, 11:09
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  • baba420 is offline
#3
this is a common practice by localites in Bodhgaya,
i wonder if it was SHAFIQ who was trying to sell you colored stones,
no offence but kids are trained to demand for money and things from foreigners in india, it is multi million dollar business in india,
i know very sad,
please dont fall for any of these tricks,
be realistic and offer your help in a nominal way.
one of my frineds was deped close to 20k in bodhgaya.
careful.
#4 Nov 3rd, 2010, 11:12
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#4
can we change the thread title from scheme to bodhgaya scams.
#5 Nov 4th, 2010, 13:58
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#5
These are the types of scams you find in all touristy places in India. Seen orphanages that were only open during the tourist season and only for cuddly children between 3 and 8, the ubiquitous school for lower caste children with a leaky roof, an institute for poor widows in Varanasi with a smooth talking 'manager', a 'hospital' for the poor run by a 'dr' who needed money for drugs (the latter part was true, only not like he represented it), the list goes on. I use a scorched earth tactic for any and all appeals for money: not one rupee. It's always a guilt play in some sort of form but never forget you don't owe them anything.

I did financially adopt a girl in Maharashtra but only because she lives in a local orphanage with nuns, one of whom I personally know from abroad and trust. I get regular progress reports and as long as she does well in school I'll continue paying for her education.
#6 Nov 4th, 2010, 15:03
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  • delhiwala is offline
#6
Mod Note: Thread Name Changed
I did not fully understand the dread term "Terminal Illness" until I saw Terminal 1 D of Delhi Airport.
#7 Nov 6th, 2010, 01:52
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#7

Thumbs up

dillichaat , that's nice that you adopted a kid , best of luck with that .


regarding the scam , bihar being poor is not a big issue . Issue is that whole india has such problems .

last year i was in in mhakal mandir , omkareshwar and other places , and it's interesting to note that only tourist are rip offed .
i lost 3000rs for nothing .. we ended up buying , paying and giving which we was really not required .


Well well another scam season is coming !@@@ that's called harihar khestra mela > AKA sonepur mela >< largest cattle fair ..

never buy anything from those fair

........
waise mujhe varanasi par bhi paayar aata hai


okay this is enough !!

moral of the story > if you find someone who is asking for help > either you run away or make them run away .

If you really want to help find authentic ngo, orphanage and there you can help , say no to stray people .
#8 Nov 6th, 2010, 02:03
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#8

Talking

Quote:
Originally Posted by jennc View Post Perhaps as a single woman I was an ideal target, but I came in contact with scam after scam:
  • A college kid who seemed to legitimately live next door to where I was staying (Root Institute) who had been kind to me earlier and literally jumped into my bicycle rickshaw and asked if he could practice English with me. He went with me to Mahabodha Temple and told me about all the sites and about buddhism. Then he asked me if I was interested in a palm reading (I said I was). He pressured me to go get it right away, and the palm reader told me about my palm and then told me what my "lucky" stone was. Then they told me there was no charge, but perhaps I would like to buy something from the shop. They tried to get me to order a ring made with a precious stone that would "help my nature" on the spot. The kid was pretty pushy about it, and told me it would help a local school--he even showed me a printout with a picture of a school and hindi on it. It was very hard to tell what was what--it's possible this kid believed what he was telling me, but I didn't order the stone--I did buy some prayer beads, which I wanted and were not so highly priced. He wanted to take me around to all the local sights on his motorbike and "be friends" but was sure to point out the sweater and motorbike other foreigners had given him as thanks.
  • Of course, there were the kids who seemed very interested in me asking me to go to their school.
  • On my way to a local cafe, a kid helped me find my way and then asked if I'd buy him food. I did, and he ate a big bowl of soup. He told me about his family--his father was dead, his brother was working at this restaurant. I enjoyed having him hang out with me. He was very curious about me and what I was doing. I stayed at this cafe for a while, using the internet. Later, a guy who said he was the owner of the cafe came over and chatted me up. He seemed very genuine and nice, but told me if kids ask me to go to their schools I should always go (pretty sketchy). He also told me that this boy was very interested in being educated but did not go to school, but he's looking for someone to help pay for it. Later, an American couple showed up who were actually there inspecting schools their foundation sponsors (they checked out on the web) and they seemed to feel this owner was a good man, but I was told later by another boy that the man scams foreigners out of money. So confusing!

    Later, the little fatherless kid told me about how cold he gets at night and he has no sweaters and sometimes charitable foreigners buy him things. I didn't bite, but as I was leaving he asked me for 10 rupees, for "medicine." I gave in and gave him the money, even though I knew it wasn't for medicine. I don't really blame kids like that for playing it up to "rich" foreigners, but I've read since then that when you buy things they often take it back for a refund of a smaller amount.
  • Then there was the most heart-breaking and confusing one of all. I was tired of feeling like a walking ATM, so I pretty much hid for the next day, only going to Mahabodhi temple to walk around. I saw two little kids dressed in monks' garb, who giggled and grinned and let me take their photo. They showed me the 7 places of Lord Buddha around the temple, and I enjoyed their company. We ran into their father, also a monk (or so it seemed), and he seemed very nice. They asked if I was going to be going to the Japanese temple, and I did plan to go there. They said it was near where they lived, so we went together. They offered to pay for the rickshaw ride, but I objected.

    They suggested that since we're friends now perhaps we could get pictures made: one for them and one for us, by the professional photographers there. I asked how much it was, and they said it was 60 rupees. I suspected at this point that they got a kickback from this, but thought it was a very low amount (US$1.50) to risk and it was possible that they were genuine. The older boy told me about how many scammers there are in Bodhgaya and how I was safe with him (an obvious red flag that I ignored--every single one of these people told me that).

    Later, they asked if I wanted to go to their home. I should have said no, but I did go, and met their mother and grandmother. Soon after their father showed up and asked me to sponsor their education. They showed me all their pictures of them with foreigners (single women, mostly), and told me their sob story about how bad government schools are (this is true) and how the father's one goal in life is to educate his children. They told me about how other foreigners had not turned out to be real friends because they didn't give them anything, but one woman did buy them a dictionary. At this point I wasn't absolutely sure if it was real or not--they were a family of 6 living in a one-room hut... But the stories seemed too well-rehearsed and when I told them I would look into it, the older kid asked me if I'd give him money for a bike "today." It sounded like a fund drive. I declined, and left. There are organizations that help kids who can't get educations, and I suggested to the boy that I could try to act on his behalf through one of the organizations. He told me most of the organizations are scams (this is also true).

It seems that so many people have two sides here. Perhaps some are legitimately good, or needy, but they when it comes to foreigners it seems like their main goal is to take advantage. It's a delicate relationship and one that troubles me--I indeed am rich compared to that family in a one-room house. But how do you know you can trust that the money is being used for its purpose?
yes you are very true many people have two side ::>

regarding bad schooling > well it's an excuse as far i know .
well most of the government school student outperforms most student educated in English medium high school .
75% of student in India are from village why they outperform the student of city ?
many of them do become doctor , engineer , professor and other personalities .
regarding money , if they are so desperate to learn , they can get scholarship .
but it's just a scam pure scam , a guy asking for bike , huh . they want easy money that's it .

I have story to tell : you might be interested ::

few years back my uncle was there in gaya , when he was returning , back to home , he meet a guy on the train , well since my uncle was wearing the traditional indian clothes he was mistaken for very poor person he started to talk to him , in the conversation he came to know about that, the person he was talking to was a beggar who was begging for last 15 years , upon asking how much did he earned , he said not much , in hindi mixed magahi he said dhanda manda thaa , i just earned 25000 , and he was going to another place . so a beggar earned 25000rs literal 500$ in 14 days , and the beggar also offering my uncle to join the club .

latter when he came to us and told us this story we laughed a lot . ,

moral of the story > do not give any alm to Indian beggar . they aren't , they are very shrewd business man it's their work .

there is lost more in the story but this is the brief
#9 Nov 9th, 2010, 16:53
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#9
i know a old lady who is a begger by profession, her driver gets lunch everyday in the car and she has 4 huge bulidings in the city rented out,
not bad ha.
#10 Nov 9th, 2010, 17:13
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  • fsg is offline
#10
Ive posted this before, but requires repeating.

Beggars in the town where I rent in S India ALL have bank accounts.

They get free food at the temple, and every Thursaday is beggars day when they go round the town getting 25pi from each shop.

Yes the pai does exist there. Hindu paper costs 2rupees 50pi!
#11 Mar 7th, 2017, 10:53
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  • Unprotoize is offline
#11
Quote:
Originally Posted by burntcloth View Post 3. Schools. Somebody (usually a kid) wants to show you their school, which of course, is in appalling condition. Then you meet the head teacher, who tells you about the school, shows you pictures of other Western tourists who have visited or taught here, and then asks for a donation. Locals assured me that most of those schools never see that money. Especially at the school located next to the Sujata Village stupa.
This one almost got me. The manager of hotel (still listed on Oyo and booking.com as Vistara Home Stay) told me he was a social work student and would take me to the village school where he volunteers on weekends. He bought me a chai, told me hetea and told me he'd been sponsored by a Japanese woman to become educated. He was to pick me up at 7:00 am to go to Sujatha to see the school. I knew it was a scam when I told him I have no children and he replied that I am like his mother. Come on!

Mr. Vijay, whatever your name is, I know you are a smart person. You must know that there are other possible ways of life. As you are now you must live in fear of discovery, that you could be put into a brutal prison situation.Yoi can know there is peace possible for you without all this drama. Every moment holds a possibility for complete transformation.

Thank you very much for taking the time to make this post.
#12 Jun 14th, 2017, 15:21
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  • iatenemo is offline
#12

spot on

Quote:
Originally Posted by jennc View Post Perhaps as a single woman I was an ideal target, but I came in contact with scam after scam:
  • A college kid who seemed to legitimately live next door to where I was staying (Root Institute) who had been kind to me earlier and literally jumped into my bicycle rickshaw and asked if he could practice English with me. He went with me to Mahabodha Temple and told me about all the sites and about buddhism. Then he asked me if I was interested in a palm reading (I said I was). He pressured me to go get it right away, and the palm reader told me about my palm and then told me what my "lucky" stone was. Then they told me there was no charge, but perhaps I would like to buy something from the shop. They tried to get me to order a ring made with a precious stone that would "help my nature" on the spot. The kid was pretty pushy about it, and told me it would help a local school--he even showed me a printout with a picture of a school and hindi on it. It was very hard to tell what was what--it's possible this kid believed what he was telling me, but I didn't order the stone--I did buy some prayer beads, which I wanted and were not so highly priced. He wanted to take me around to all the local sights on his motorbike and "be friends" but was sure to point out the sweater and motorbike other foreigners had given him as thanks.
  • Of course, there were the kids who seemed very interested in me asking me to go to their school.
  • On my way to a local cafe, a kid helped me find my way and then asked if I'd buy him food. I did, and he ate a big bowl of soup. He told me about his family--his father was dead, his brother was working at this restaurant. I enjoyed having him hang out with me. He was very curious about me and what I was doing. I stayed at this cafe for a while, using the internet. Later, a guy who said he was the owner of the cafe came over and chatted me up. He seemed very genuine and nice, but told me if kids ask me to go to their schools I should always go (pretty sketchy). He also told me that this boy was very interested in being educated but did not go to school, but he's looking for someone to help pay for it. Later, an American couple showed up who were actually there inspecting schools their foundation sponsors (they checked out on the web) and they seemed to feel this owner was a good man, but I was told later by another boy that the man scams foreigners out of money. So confusing!

    Later, the little fatherless kid told me about how cold he gets at night and he has no sweaters and sometimes charitable foreigners buy him things. I didn't bite, but as I was leaving he asked me for 10 rupees, for "medicine." I gave in and gave him the money, even though I knew it wasn't for medicine. I don't really blame kids like that for playing it up to "rich" foreigners, but I've read since then that when you buy things they often take it back for a refund of a smaller amount.
  • Then there was the most heart-breaking and confusing one of all. I was tired of feeling like a walking ATM, so I pretty much hid for the next day, only going to Mahabodhi temple to walk around. I saw two little kids dressed in monks' garb, who giggled and grinned and let me take their photo. They showed me the 7 places of Lord Buddha around the temple, and I enjoyed their company. We ran into their father, also a monk (or so it seemed), and he seemed very nice. They asked if I was going to be going to the Japanese temple, and I did plan to go there. They said it was near where they lived, so we went together. They offered to pay for the rickshaw ride, but I objected.

    They suggested that since we're friends now perhaps we could get pictures made: one for them and one for us, by the professional photographers there. I asked how much it was, and they said it was 60 rupees. I suspected at this point that they got a kickback from this, but thought it was a very low amount (US$1.50) to risk and it was possible that they were genuine. The older boy told me about how many scammers there are in Bodhgaya and how I was safe with him (an obvious red flag that I ignored--every single one of these people told me that).

    Later, they asked if I wanted to go to their home. I should have said no, but I did go, and met their mother and grandmother. Soon after their father showed up and asked me to sponsor their education. They showed me all their pictures of them with foreigners (single women, mostly), and told me their sob story about how bad government schools are (this is true) and how the father's one goal in life is to educate his children. They told me about how other foreigners had not turned out to be real friends because they didn't give them anything, but one woman did buy them a dictionary. At this point I wasn't absolutely sure if it was real or not--they were a family of 6 living in a one-room hut... But the stories seemed too well-rehearsed and when I told them I would look into it, the older kid asked me if I'd give him money for a bike "today." It sounded like a fund drive. I declined, and left. There are organizations that help kids who can't get educations, and I suggested to the boy that I could try to act on his behalf through one of the organizations. He told me most of the organizations are scams (this is also true).

It seems that so many people have two sides here. Perhaps some are legitimately good, or needy, but they when it comes to foreigners it seems like their main goal is to take advantage. It's a delicate relationship and one that troubles me--I indeed am rich compared to that family in a one-room house. But how do you know you can trust that the money is being used for its purpose?
perhaps the best info anyone could have going into Bodh Gaya 5* I spent a Month there partly because I got stuck during demonetization back in nov 2016 till dec 2016. But the Friends i made there ranged from Street sleepers to a guy who's dad might run half the inn's in town. Moral of the story, everyone is hungry and you must decide whom to help.
#13 Jun 14th, 2017, 16:38
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  • edwardseco is offline
#13
Quote:
Mr. Vijay, whatever your name is, I know you are a smart person. You must know that there are other possible ways of life.
I said something like this to a local crack dealer I had befriended. He did the math for me and it clearly was in favor of his remaining a crack dealer. You gotta be realistic about these things..

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