How the infamous India gem scam works

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Don’t worry. That’s just not gonna happen.


Also, who has 60,000$s?


These sort of scams have one thing in common. They are asking you to do something that is dishonest at the outset. In this case, they are asking you to help them bypass the customs fee for importing the gems into Australia. If you won’t agree to do dishonest things, then these scams won’t work on you.


“You can’t fool an honest man” as the saying go. It’s bullshit. It is convenient to make the mark feel he participates in something illegal to make him reluctant to go to the police, but lots of scams seems perfetcly honest.


Between the gem scammers, frauds like the Maharishi, and the end less phone grifts, India is certainly establishing itself in public perception as the land of the scam.


Some years ago, as a student, I was visiting Turkey with a large group of friends. At Istanbul, inside the Blue Mosque, we bumped into a somewhat older local who spoke perfect english and, after some conversation, offered to show us a great restaurant. It was only hours later that one of us asked if he might know of a rug store (Turkish/Persian rugs being the thing that Istanbul is known for). Why, yes-- he just happened to know of one, and he took us to a friend’s store. There, another gentleman sits us down, we all have tea, and he spent a good hour showing us all sorts of rugs and how you can tell fake artificial rugs from genuine ones. Everyone but myself bought a rug. And, it really did feel “impolite” to not be buying one!

They never realized, and probably would not have cared if I had informed them: we had been picked up by an agent of the rug store. (Thinking about it, I realized there was just no reason for him to be in that tourist destination, other than to pick us up.) In his defense, I mean, he did give us a good time, sharing local information and bringing us to (what seems to have been) a reasonably priced store. But, after all is said and done, there was deception involved.


BS. Many scams pray on people’s trust in their community, and in their desire to do good things. Look no further than the bank examiner scam in which case the mark is asked to help catch a criminal and instead winds up being ripped off.

The aphorism that you can’t cheat an honest man is complete BS, perhaps made up by the con artists themselves to keep their marks from going to the police.


Well, it’s not like it’s real money we’re talking about. It’s Australian dollars. :wink:


I nearly got roped into this scam about ten years back when I was backpacking in India for a couple of months - while passing through Goa, to be precise. Luckily the whole deal seemed far too weird and risky for me and I declined, but this was after something like three days of grooming on their part. I guess I was young and naive, but they seemed genuinely friendly and approachable, so they did a damned fine job of the social part of this - I guess I’m just lucky to be too neurotic to gamble on anything like this. Just how scammy this was dawned on me pretty quickly when they suddenly stopped answering their phones or replying to texts immediately after I said no.

A couple of details differed from the accounts in the video, though: they wanted a copy of my passport (“for safety reasons”) which freaked me out quite a bit, as did the fact that they had a whole binder full of similar copies of other people’s passports. They also (obviously, in hindsight) asked if I wanted to call and talk to any of their previous “helpers”. They also invited me to their house when they presented me with the “offer”, which in hindsight was a clever way of increasing the social pressure to accept. IIRC they were “exporting” jewelery and not gems, though, and I seem to remember them wanting me to bring them with me rather than mail them, which makes me wonder how the second part of the scam would have worked in that case. Oh, and they showed me (obviously faked) paperwork of how Norwegian store chains were buying these jewels from them. The scale and degree of localization of the scam was quite honestly stunning. I’m so happy I passed on this “opportunity”, though in hindsight I guess going to the police would have been even better.


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