One of the most common questions I get from you travellers is if Moscow is dangerous and in what way. Just got another one, thus this short review.
A small place dedicated to the history of auto theft, methods, and statistics. On display are Soviet-era methods of protection. The museum was inspired by an Eldar Ryazanov’s 1966 classic film Beware of the Car, and is named after Yuri Detochnin, its main Robin Hood hero.
While sifting though my old www.moscowdrivers.net and reworking it into a current and coherent resource I stumbled into the famous Winston Wu’s overview of Russian crime of the sort not normally encountered elsewhere. I followed the link to Winston’s site and was pleased to see it up and active. Still lots on Russia from a Russian bride seeker’s perspective. Putting
on my list of recommended resources for those who embark upon a pursuit I am very far from recommending. But if you are compelled to do that by forces more powerful than your sense and reason, explore www.happerabroad.com.
If you need local assistance I have no choice either but to offer myself in this capacity. Among my services:
- Compilation of your profile
- Distribution of it through my personal and professional connections
- Trips to small towns
- Facilitation of contacts with small agencies that have real women, not rich foreigner hunters or “travel whore” types
- Identity checks, interviews, hidden interviews under the guise of present delivery
- etc. etc., all my old stuff
A friend of a friend narrowly avoided it. At least two of my acquaintances didn’t. The way it works: you receive a call supposedly from your friend or relative in distress. Russians are artistic SOBs, they can imitate voice pretty well. Today’s example involved a call from a kid at the police station about to be charged with causing bodily harm in a fight. 30K roubles ($1000) put on police investigator’s telephone account will close the matter. Fortunately his mom was smart enough to ask which police station it was, and then called the kid, who was found happily sleeping through his history lesson. In another case the mailbox was broken into and a story of lost money and documents was e-mailed to everyone in the inbox, with a request to do a WesterUnion transfer. That time it worked and cost D. $1500. In the past I received several text messages, signed with names of people I knew, asking me to make a deposit urgently. BE AWARE THAT THIS “FRIEND IN DISTRESS” SCAM IN COMMON AND THE PLAY IS PROFESSIONAL. Always double and triple check every request for money.
..As I’m writing this a few cases of foreigners scammed by the a similar method come to mind. Their Russian friend (usually from the “Russian bride” category) would claim to be arrested, in hospital, or stuck in the airport with no documents and no money.
At the same time remember that people do get in trouble. Once I misdiagnozed a distress call as “scam with 98% probability”. Guess the message is not to lose your head..
Hm.. I recall how back in 1997, when I was a naive newcomer here, I was duped of $500. By someone whom I knew! The fellow created a sense of urgency, got my money, and was gone home to Chechnya. In these days it was still unthinkable for me to raise my guards because of person’s ethnic origin. Now I do. And be aware of any request or situation that leave you with no time to think. Pressure means scam.