Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

Postby KOVAKS on Sat Sep 20, 2008 1:09 pm

Who is Larry Kovaks?
I’m Barcelona’s Premier Tourist Detective. I have been solving crimes against tourists since 2004, but I’ve been sleuthing for years, since I retired as a merchant marine. I’m 55 years old, look it, and I can still beat the hell out of a jackhammer in a fist fight. You can read more about me here.

Who is "Terry"?
Terry Jones is the fellow who ran Barcelona's greatest street scam page, whose contributed stories populate the first few hundred posts in this forum. He is an amateur sleuth, software programmer, entrepreneur and writer, and can still be visited on his blog. See a mirror of his original page here.

Why Barcelona scams?
Because I live here and because there is so much petty thievery here. Simple as that. The stories on these pages are a testament to that. The page's main focus is Barcelona, but you can write about scams in other parts of the world.

Is Barcelona dangerous?
It is dangerous for your wallet if you are an unvigilant and naïve tourist.

How can I avoid scammers?
1) Read up on the valuable information in these pages.
2) Don’t look like a tourist (fanny pack, camera slung around neck, safari gear). Do you dress like a tourist back home? If you did, don’t you think you would be a target for the scammers in your town? Use your dome folks.
3) Watch out for distractions. Scammers work in teams and will try to distract you so an accomplice can snake your bags. For example, one will act “lost” and ask for directions. You yourself might be distracted, looking at your map, trying to read the arrival/departure marquee in a train station, etc. Thieves will lurk in these kinds of areas and pounce on your belongings the moment they see an opening.

What do they look like?
There is no fixed answer to that. A lot of people on these pages will claim they are gypsies, Moroccans, South Americans and Eastern Europeans. The fact is it is impossible to tell who they are based on their ethnicity. In fact, a lot of scamsters disguise themselves in order to throw off tourists. One infamous example is the Fake American ringers at a shell game. I will say one thing though, for some reason a lot of the kids snatching bags around the center wear track suits. They must buy them in the gypmeister uniform store.

What is a “gypmeister”? Is that racist?
It comes from the words “to gyp”, which means "to rip off" or "steal" in some shady underhanded way, and “meister” which is kraut for "master". The world’s best gypmeister is Swedish guy who makes a living by delighting huge audiences with his gypmeister techniques.
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