Thursday, October 30, 2014

Children's Scams

Thamel region in, Kathmandu Valley, Nepal it is not unusual for tourist s to be approached by women specifically “not asking for money” but instead carry a young child and an empty doll-sized milk bottle. The women are hoping the unassuming tourist will buy them baby formula for their child. Baby formula cast around 1,000NPR (rupee) or US$10.

This scam always takes place adjacent a store selling the very product being requested. This is not just a convenient coincidence. The sales staff at the cash register are in on the scam. The mother and child escort the tourist into the store to locate the requested formula, The little group now move to the cash register to complete the purchase. The kind-hearted tourist then gives the mother the much needed baby formula and leaves the seen to continue their sightseeing and souvenir shopping. The mother then returns the baby formula to the cashier who cancels the sale. The mother and cashier then split the money, 500NPR each. The formula is returned to the shelf. Everything is reset to start the scam again.

A few clues that this is a scam.

  1. The number of times it occurs.
  2. How clean baby bottle is, clearly never actually used to feed milk to a baby.
  3. The age of the child. Occasionally they actually use a baby, sometimes a toddler, sometimes a pre-schooler, sometimes there is no child at all.

Old Town in Ecuador’s capital, Quito there is also a more common baby scam, The mothers do not tourist to simply buy formula. They want you to save their infant. Admittedly they have “tripped” and are “dropping” their baby. Dropping = throwing. The scam is they want tourists to assist by catching their unleashed offspring. Then the mother gives their new hero a very emotional thankyou complete with numerous hugs.  The hugs allow for the mother or her anonymous friends who just happened to see it all unfold to pick the tourist’s pockets.

It is much harder to not catch the baby than it is to not by formula.

Nationally across Australia the scam is the sense of entitlement of parents. Some prams are now bigger than small cars and nearly as expensive, so the family “needs” to buy a 4 wheel drive so they can fit in the pram. These prams do not fit easily in shopping aisles, public transport or restaurants. The special problem is never the fault of the doting parents.
Do prams needs suspension, wheels capable of going off road and enough storage to fit enough food, clothes and toys to survive a nuclear holocaust?

Supermarket managers are succumbing to this scam by creating parent parks. Like disabled parking they are close to the entrance of the store, unlike disabled parking they are not enforceable by law or regulation. Surely these state of the art, NASA designed, baby vehicles are designed for the comfort of the child and the ease of pushing for the parent. So get your money’s worth push the bloody thing from the other side of the car park. Like every other mug who arrives to discover that 10,000 other people have also just popped down to the shops.

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