Tourists, Beware a Foreign Bank Note Scam

On a recent trip to Benidorm, three of us were targeted by a scammer the moment we arrived.

A coach transfer had been arranged to take us to from the airport to the resort.  Because the hotel was in a small side street, we were dropped on the main road a couple of minutes walk away.  During the short walk to the hotel, a man approached us claiming he was a fellow tourist and asking if we knew whether there was a branch of the Bank of Lebanon in Benidorm.

He proceeded to pull out his wallet and showed us a Lebanese bank note.  He then asked us if we had “one of the new 10 Euro notes” to show him, so that he could see the new design.  We politely declined and walked on to the hotel.  As we moved on, his parting shot to was to angrily call after us that he wanted to see one of our bank notes, as if we had somehow let him down.

It was a very obvious scam.  We had realised that if we produced a note, he would run off with it – or perhaps then ask to see the “new €50 note” and run off with that.  As we had luggage, it would have been difficult for us to chase him, which is exactly why the scam was targeted at tourists carrying cases.

The opening question was a clue.  Given that the 3 of us were carrying luggage in the direction of a hotel and that we had a complete lack of any tan, it was a fair bet that we were tourists arriving on holiday.  It was therefore unlikely we would know the banks in the town, particularly not an obscure one like the Bank of Lebanon.

The other sign was “the convincer”: the scammer engenders trust by getting out his own wallet and showing you a bank note, which helps to convince you they are genuine and also places you under pressure to return the favour.

The best thing to do if you are approached in this way is to politely but firmly decline and walk on.  The scammer will move on to find easier targets.

I have to be fair and say that this was the only scam we saw on the streets during our stay in Benidorm.