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Caffiend Mar 27th, 2005 17:21

Manali Jewellery/Gem Scam
To all,

This is a variation of the "Agra Gem Scam".

I just arrived in Manali, and bummed out was walking to a chai shop when approached by sincere sounding young man wanting to "learn about my country". He took me to a temple and then his house. I was introduced to his flatmates who then tried on the "take our gems to London for us so we don't pay tax". The crew were a pretty well-oiled act. Imaculate in everyway except in their timeframe. "We drive you to Delhi tomorrow...." etc. Something smelled a bit fishy so I bailed. I remember reading about this one. They produced a folder with all the documents of all the other travellers who had done this for them. Look under "Agra Gem Scam" for more info and similar cons.

Be careful guys!

// Caffiend.

Kanbe Mar 27th, 2005 18:44

Im glad you brought this up.

Something similar happened to me in Agra, and I would like to hear IMers thoughts on it.

I was taken to this guy's office and he was trying to get me to post some gem stones to my home country. I.e. use a courier service and have the gems air-mailed to be picked up at the post office. And upon picking it up, I would receive some % of the profit. He said the reason he asks is because as a tourist we can send gems/jewellery and the like back to our country under the category of "gift allowance", which in essence avoids any tax. He showed me a file of previous travellers who have done the same. He claimed it is legitimate. I thought this was a scam and said no.

Could someone tell me if this business is actually legitimate?

machadinha Mar 27th, 2005 18:59

It's about the oldest scam in the book. It's difficult to say, it could be legit but you'd better know your gems before getting involved/suckered. Kanbe was no investment on your part required? That would seem the usual deal in getting lifted. If not, picking up or couriering stranger's parcels is best avoided for all the obvious reasons.

Kanbe Mar 27th, 2005 19:16

yea, the moment they said they needed to photocopy my credit card and swipe it as a deposit, that was when the bells started ringing in my head and I was like no. That guy was very convincing though.

Y'know, I wish I read up about this scam before going abroad. Yes, I wasn't even aware of the oldest scam (!). It would have been good if i was aware of this, then I wouldn't have even walked inside the office!

Maybe we should make like a sticky thread for common scams...

machadinha Mar 27th, 2005 19:18

I'm sure it's been covered here a zillion times, the guidebooks all mention it too I think. Never let anyone take your credit card out of sight either, a copy and a forged signature will lead to awkward surprises back home.

ps Yes even with all the foreknowledge they can be pretty convincing, that's why it's such a successful scam I guess.

As far as the deal being possibly "legit" goes, apart from you being lifted off your money straightaway the trick lies more in the promises of instant fortune that you can make on such stones. Ask yourself why would a complete stranger entrust you with a small cargo of precious stones, enabling you to get rich back home and trusting you to send back a part of the proceeds to them (and ask yourself what do you know about these shiny glittering goods at all?). The other danger I hinted at was you being left to pick up a shipment of opium back home of course.

Some people do actually import and sell the stones here. They're mostly semi-precious stones at best, sold mostly to new agey folks for their astrological properties or similar, and go for a couple of euros a piece. It's not much different from selling chips I suppose so after a lifetime of doing that it might earn you a meagre pension. I'm not being half-sarcastic either and I've been about to fall for the persistent types myself, but I mean it can be done but many do it so it's no instant richness for you, there's stiff competition and there's only so many stones/bedspreads/mirrored bags any market can handle right.

machadinha Mar 28th, 2005 17:52

Since it's a good read:
The Agra Gem Scam.

Dr Funkenstein Mar 28th, 2005 18:39

A fella that was staying in the same guesthouse as me in Manali had this gemstone scam tried on him, too. It was around this time last year.

I'd be surprised if anyone fell for it, tbh.

Kanbe Mar 28th, 2005 19:13

In hindsight, I can say I was really naive

But at the time, its a whole another story. I really thought I was listening to what this man had to say with an objective mind..and had everything under control. That man was just soo convincing and I seriously trusted this guy until he brought up the credit card detail. I dont know if its because its my first trip to India, or the fact that my mindset that I wouldn't be scammed, or a combination of both. I guess also the fact that Im a young (20yrs) female lone traveller made me an easy target.

At least I know now to be more wary of things like this on my next trip :)

machadinha Mar 29th, 2005 18:33


Originally Posted by Kanbe
In hindsight, I can say I was really naive

You walked away didn't you? Not that naive :)

Dr Funkenstein Mar 29th, 2005 19:16

The fella I mentioned was in his early 20's and was on his first trip, too. Looks like they target the young.

I don't think you were naive, Kanbe. There's a fine line to be trodden with regards to trust in India. Some people read all about the scams in the Lonely Planet and walk round expecting every Indian they meet to rip them off. Consequently, their experience of India will be a pretty negative one, imo.

On the other hand, a healthy bit of scepticism isn't a bad thing.

If it sounds too good to be true, it normally is.

Nick-H Mar 29th, 2005 23:08


Originally Posted by Dr Funkenstein
I'd be surprised if anyone fell for it, tbh.

Hey, you guys, I have access to this vastly huge sum of money left in a bank account by a relative. I just need help to get it out of the country, and, well, you are all trustworthy people (I know that 'cos God told me)... ... ...

Apparently people are still falling for this well-publicised scam that continues to appear in our mailboxes every day. If people can fall for that one how much easier must it be to fall for a con where beautiful shiny items are waved under one's nose?

steven_ber Mar 29th, 2005 23:12

Nick, you've quietly sneaked over the 1000 posts mark, well done mate, a very educational set of posts.

A bag of shiny gems for you......well, after a small deposit. ;)

Nick-H Mar 29th, 2005 23:30


Originally Posted by steven_ber
Nick, you've quietly sneaked over the 1000 posts mark, well done mate, a

very educational set of posts.

A bag of shiny gems for you......well, after a small deposit. ;)


So I have :D :D :D Feels like a birthday, only better!

Must make a note to get out more ;)

crvlvr Mar 30th, 2005 00:23


He took me to a temple and then his house.
Here is some advice, never go to anyone's "house". potentially you are risking your life when you do that.

Nick-H Mar 30th, 2005 01:01


Originally Posted by crvlvr
Here is some advice, never go to anyone's "house". potentially you are risking your life when you do that.

What, never? Whereas I can see the point of your advise, especially for a lone woman (would she accept such an invitation in, say, London?), it seems a bit extreme.

How about adding "without having a good idea who they are" and maybe "alone" and maybe "without someone else knowing where you are going".

Sort of like all-over-the-world blind-date advice.

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