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Gambian Conmen & Scams

Travel Advice    Bumsters    Crime    Personal Safety
   
Introduction:
Some people in Gambia turn to less than honest means to take advantage of toubabs using various devious tricks. Be on the look out for those attempting to part you from your money by pleading a false case.

Below are three examples of commonly used scams among Gambian con artists. Note that these cases are presented very straightforwardly, which are by all means not the case on the street. Plots are often not uncovered until the very moment you are asked for money—do not feel guilty into giving them any, no matter how thick they lay it on. No matter how far fetched getting scammed may seem, it will probably happen to you if you are staying for a long time in the country. "Sign my guestbook", "Do you remember me?," and one got the "rice for the family." These three common scams are explained below:

Guestbook:
FlightsA Gambian approaches you and tells you all about how he was just married or how his son was just born. He was sad that you could not make the ceremony, but invites you to sign the guestbook/visitor’s book. He seems genuinely excited to meet a tourist like yourself, so you good-naturedly agree. The “guestbook” contains a list of names (likely to be made up) as well as a list of sizable donations. He tells you it is customary to give a gift on the occasion, and thus will pressure you into doing so with a guilt trip.

“Don’t you remember me?”:
An unfamiliar person approaches and says, “Hello, how are you? It’s Kebba, the repair man! Do you remember me?” You will feel guilty enough to say yes because you see hundreds of people a day and it is difficult to keep all of your acquaintances straight. He will then ask you to loan him some money to buy something, either a bite to eat or something for your hotel, which you will be reimbursed for later. One “Kebba” in Bakau has tried to assert that he owns an orphanage, and has even gone as far as taking tourists to 'his' compound and training neighbourhood children to hug the strangers to keep up the act. He then asks for money to buy bags of rice for the children.

Rice for the family:
A man approaches you and, after the customary greetings, tells you about how he does not have enough cash to buy food for his family’s next meal. As he begs you to help him out in the money department, he leads you to a local shop where they sell bags of rice. After he wheedles a few hundred dalasi notes out of you and enters the shop to pick out his bag, he leaves you standing on the corner while he escapes out the back door with the cash.

The above are just a few of the very many examples of the frauds perpetrated on tourists and longer stay visitors to Gambia. Be on your guard and assume any story someone tells you about needing your cash to be false until it is 'verified' by you. Even then it may not really have been 'verified' as the tricksters could have got other people in on the game! If in doubt just say no.




Conmen:
Be careful about those who wish to 'sell' you land that is not theirs. This is a common confidence trick where the 'seller' shows you a (doctored) photocopy of 'his title' to the land and attempts to 'sell' it to you. You later find out he does not even own the property.

The most dangerous kind of conman is the one that comes across as being well off and actually has money to spend on YOU. He may insist on paying for a meal you both just ate. He may offer to pay for your drink at a bar, he may well be driving a flashy car. This could be preparing you for a big con, such as your 'joint' investment in a lodge, farm or other project. It's usually no such thing, and even if he has invested in your 'joint' project, his ultimate aim is to find ways to remove your ownership in the 'joint' venture. For your own financial safety you should avoid these kinds of people at all costs. That's not to say there aren't genuine business partners out there, you should just make sure that everything is dealt with by your lawyer, above board and transparent.

Common Tourist Scams:
There are numerous scams and tricks perpetrated on the unwary tourists to Gambia. There are too many to list here but here are some of the more common hard-luck sop stories:

"My father (or mother) has just been admitted to Banjul hospital or a clinic & he / she needs urgent treatment".
   
"I am unable to pay my younger brother's outstanding school fees & as a result he is currently out of school".
   
"I have not eaten for a couple of days as I have no work and I am hungry".
   
You are given a 'free' gift like a cheap bead necklace which is used as an avenue to lure you into deeper conversation & 'friendship'. This trickster may be a patient kind of guy & will elicit your cash another day.
   
"I have to go to a 'naming ceremony' because they named the child after me and tradition says I have to donate some money to the father".
   
"I have malaria and need to get some medications urgently".
   
The more sophisticated tricksters will work in collaboration with someone else who will inform you that your 'friend' is in some sort or 'terrible demise' and your cash is required to solve the 'problem'.
   
  And so on and so on...
   
  If you feel you want to help The Gambia then donate your money to a charity.
 

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