But don’t be naive:
Curiosity got the best of me when some “business men” near our guest house in Agra said they would like to make me rich and let me help them with their “business.” Of course, I was supposed to keep this information top secret, and they sat me down with some chai and gave me all this info about how much in goods I could take out of India tax free and how they needed my allowance to ship some merchandise to the states, and they would pay me a percentage of the value. Whatever I was comfortable with, they would pack up and send that value amount to my home and so-and-so’s brother would come pick that package up from me when I arrived back in the states, and I would have my money. “This guy is gonna come to WAYNESVILLE, NC,” I asked, incredulously. “Yes, yes, this much money, he will travel anywhere he needs to go.” They made copies of my passport and visa as they said they needed a paper trail to report to the authorities to make it look like a legit sale. While the copies were being made, a box of precious and semi precious stones were set down on the couch beside me, implying that this was the merch being sent to my house. my new friends said they also needed a receipt to make the purchase look legitimate. “Great, I deal in cash, just make me a handwritten receipt for cash,” but no. This is the crux of the scam–they manage to get people to handover their credit cards and ring in upwards of 167,000 rupees. I had an inactive card and handed it to him and let him run it a few times just to be an aggravation. “It says pin needed. What is pin?” “Oh, I dunno the PINand there is no money on that card anyway. you guys have a great night–I got a train to catch.” I told my hotelier what those guys were up to and he said he already knew and that it reflects badly on Agra as a whole, not just the scammers so it makes him really mad. He has plans to turn these guys over to the police when his Belgian friend comes to visit so I guess his friend is going to play the part of the mark. Yay! Also, we watched a hotel owner chastise one teen boy for slapping a little boy and making him cry. I have seen 3 boys crying in India since we have been here because of bully situations. Anyway, I told the owner of the hotel I was glad he took up for the little boy, and he said, “this stuff is bad in itself but it is also bad for Agra as a whole. YOU should also go tell him that he did wrong.” So I went and told that fella not to go around hitting little boys anymore and making them cry. Nicole was sufficiently embarrassed.