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The Labors of Bucephalus No matter how tedious life at times could become, one look out the window was enough to remind me that not far away, the world-and adventure-were impatiently waiting.-R. Morse

Near Hustles in Istanbul

TURKEY | Sunday, 3 February 2008 | Views [3135] | Comments [9]

Istanbul is an amazing place. Wedged between the Black Sea and the sea of Marmara, this is essentially where Europe and the Middle East meet, and not just geographically speaking. There is a European feel here, yet the loudspeakers still belt out the call to prayer five times a day. I've yet to see anyone heed it. This was the capital city of the Eastern Roman Empire and where the subsequent Byzantine Empire rose and fell, Constantinople being conquered in 1453 by the Ottoman sultan, appropriately named Mehmet the Conqueror. Today it's a conglomeration of medieval and Islamic architectural styles, filled with stunning mosques, intricate arabesque patterns, and the fabulous Aya Sofia: First a church, then a mosque, now a museum. Our hostel is in old Istanbul, and it is hard to believe that this is a city of so many people, as the curving, cobblestone, streets and sweeping, verdant park avenues nullify any sense of the hurried throng of crowds so prevalent in most cities. So far, the people of Turkey have proven to be quite hospitable, but it is difficult to judge true hospitality when it is based upon a financial exchange. After a while, one begins to feel like little more than a target for income supplementation. At any rate, they are friendly, especially the guy who tried to hustle us last night. In Taksim (sp?), a section of the city known for its nightlife, we were approached by a young man resembling an extra on Saturday Night Fever, who was suspiciously friendly and knew of a great "disco" we could go to. Granted, this instantly had scam written all over it, but curiosity prevailed, and in five minutes we were in the den of the seediest, dingiest, hole in the wall I've yet seen. It's obvious there is a con coming, but what's the angle? A spiked drink? A swiped wallet? Maybe just a good old fashioned mugging? Too make a long story short, drinks are brought (I won't touch them), three girls join the table (who are incidentally WAY too interested in us) and after absurdly asinine small talk, we say it's time for us to go. Here's the fun part: The manager approaches us and begins tallying the bill. Andy had two beers, I had none, but the three shots the girls drank and the pathetic bowl of nuts on the table bring our bill to an exorbitant 600 Turkish Lira, around $500 U.S. This scam is ridiculous, but it must work, because it occurs frequently, as you will find out. We make it clear, no matter what, they will not get 600 lira from us. My cousin is a fun guy to be stuck in a scam with, because we're both simutaneously threatening the mananger and laughing at the sheer absurdity of it all. I've eyed the room, six guys, three who can't weigh more than 350 combined, the others all overweight and pushing sixty. I regret it now, but we agree to pay for OUR beers, at the price we determine. I hand him 10 lira, he pushes it back. "No, you owe 600 lira, that is price." What else needs to be said, except "do you know what this means?" as I shove a middle finger in his face. WE exit, and the chubby guy blocking the door gets the idea, and moves aside, actually opens the doors for me. This was, sadly, only the beginning of our education in Turkish Scams 101. More on this tommorrow!

Tags: scams & robberies



Your Mom passed this link on to me today(and you thought you'd escaped--sucka!!!). Incidentally, I read the entire blog in reverse. Should've gone bottom to top--must be a pseudo-Greek thing.
I can't believe you ripped those Turks off--you jerk.
The Giants won the Super-Bowl today. Are such earthshaking events discussed in those parts?
We'll pray for your relative safety; after all, a moderate amount of danger makes life more interesting.
Chip, Nikki, and the boys

  John Bartelt Feb 4, 2008 2:50 PM


We have been scammed out of $250,000 from a very smooth and calous man in Istanbul named Hakan Topdemir. This man has operated out of various carpet shops and conned us in the large Yurdan carpet shop in Sultanahamet opposite the Blue Mosque. Hakan will try to get to into a business deal where he imports carpets to you and then you send them onto the US but after one small deal, he manipulates you into a large deal and here is when he pulls his scam. He builds up your trust. He sits with you in the shop and treats you well but all the time he knows he is going to absolutely ruin you if he can. He is merciless.
Avoid this man at all costs. Report him to the police if you encounter him. The man in Yurdan who introduced us is Cem Kaya who we think is an insider for him.
We know of another person who he has scammed also. Hakan will hound you with calls at 3am and tel you he has tax to pay, freight to pay, flights to pay and every other conceivable thing to extract your money. This man is evil.
Remember Hakan Topdemir and Yurdan carpets


  Justin Nobbs Dec 4, 2008 9:35 AM


Akan is not dead! In 2011, he was in Side and he was working for Carpet collection turgutreis CAD 16/A in Side. He has scammed us also. We have gone to police. It is not his real name. Name is Korkmaz. But he is free and we don't know where he is now. We have lost much money and if you have met him not far away, please send us a message.

  Bernadette Jul 30, 2014 2:44 AM


Hello everyone,

Me and my husband are Hakan's latest victims. Not more than a month ago he scammed us too. We paid him around eur8000. He told us the same lies and earned our trust. Bernadette, you wanted to know his whereabouts. As far as we know, He Works for Bazaar 51 Kaleiçi Antalya. Tomorrow we are going to report him to police. We just know his first name, even though i doubt that's also real.

  Alev Oct 17, 2014 6:47 AM


Hey people,

You won't believe şt but today we just ran into him on the Street. He was waiting in front of a butcher. As soon as he saw us, he turned his back we just walked to him. He tried to defend himself, saying his father has been sick for 2 weeks bla bla. He invited us to his store next month, and said he would pay us. But of course we don'T beliebe his bullshit stories. Next monday we are going to poliçe station with all the papers we got and we will do our best to get our money back. I just wanted to share it with all his other victims.

  Alev Oct 18, 2014 4:22 AM


hello Have you had your money back? We have tried . We have gone to a lawer unfortunately and you? Alev I write you in private mail.

  Bernadette Dec 14, 2015 7:42 AM


Hi everybody. i found this treet and i am shocked i think we have the same problem like you. Please can anybody answer me and tell me what you did? did you called the police? did you got your money back?

  K. Feb 25, 2016 7:09 PM


Ist ja wirklich interessant !
Ich habe eine ganz ähnliche Situation im August 1999 !!! mit diesem korrupten Betrüger Hakan Topdemir erlebt; habe bis 2001/02 sogar mit türkischen Anwälten, hier in Deutschland lebend, gekämpft - dieser Typ ist so gerissen, er konnte nicht aufgefunden werden; und damals war man leider mit dem Internet noch lange nicht so firm wie heute; habe es unter "Leichtsinn" verbuchen müssen ! Aber jetzt, hatte praktisch nur mal den Einfall gehabt, diesen Namen hier einzugeben und promt fand ich ihn; also ist dieser korrupte Typ mindestens seit 1999 noch immer in krimineller Aktion tätig, unfassbar.
Ich werde mich mal mit dieser Anwältin in Verbindung setzen !
Wenn Sie mir Näheres schreiben, wäre ich Ihnen sehr dankbar !

  Renate Albrecht Jul 31, 2016 1:29 AM


Hallo Renate,

ich habe Ihnen eine E-Mail geschrieben. Bitte melden Sie sich bei mir! Liebe Grüße

  K. Feb 2, 2017 6:37 PM



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