Noilly Prattle: The Perfect Con

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Perfect Con

I consider myself a pretty sophisticated traveler, but, at least once, I took my eye off the ball—or should I say off my wallet. It's impossible to explain. Maybe it was the influence of the neo-gothic horror of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. It looks like Gaudi took the idea of a cathedral and threw gobs of mud at it. Anyway, the con. A youngish woman came up as I was busily taking pix of the cathedral. She had a clipboard and said she was taking signatures for some worthy cause. I forget exactly what it was. So, disarmed by the “worthy cause” I added my name to the list. OK, good deed done for the day. Not quite. The good Samaritan senorita then asked to see my ID to verify my signature. So, I offered to show my passport, but, no, she wanted to see my credit card signature. My SO, having rebuffed the partner of my senorita, was frantically trying to stop me from pulling out my wallet. The partner came over to me saying she was the “professor” of the other one. I should have: 1) realized at that point that I was being conned, 2) listened to my SO; but no, I blithely showed my card but wouldn't let her touch it. Then I put the card back in my wallet and in my pocket.  The two disappeared in the wink of an eye. Some onlookers came up and told me those women had stolen my money. I said: “What!” and took out my wallet. Sure enough, the pickpockets had cleaned me out to the tune of 150 Euros. They either missed one small bill, or decided to be generous and leave me subway fare to get back to my hotel. Take your pick.

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