Overpriced drinks scam

The basics of the Budapest bar scam are similar to those in Thailand (read the Bangkok bar scam) and Istanbul (read the Istanbul overpriced drinks scam), while each has its local twist.

Budapest-scam-overpriced-drinksIn Budapest, this scam is most popular in the area around the busy shopping- and nightlife street Vaci Utca, where (mostly male solo-traveling) tourists are approached by two good-looking and seemingly friendly girls, who start up a conversation. They start for example with asking where the tourist is from, where he is going, how long he is staying etc. This is done to check if he is a likely target, those who have only just arrived and haven’t been scammed yet are easier to cheat. They pretend to be visiting from out of town and it’s easy to trust their story as they look like normal Hungarian girls, not overdone so the victim would be suspicious they could be prostitutes. Sometimes they also ask if he knows a certain bar of which they have heard good things. Then they suggest to have a drink together in that bar or another one nearby.

They take the tourist into the bar and quickly order a whole set of drinks, for example shots for three, sparkling wine for three, and a large can of soda or energy drink for themselves, plus whatever the tourist had ordered first. However, since they are in on the scam together with the bar staff, the large can will likely be empty or half full (which you can’t see), so that when one of the ladies distracts the tourist, the other can quickly “drink” the sparkling wine, Budapest-rip_off-overpriced-drinksbut leaves it into her mouth, and then spits it back into the empty can using the straw. Most likely, their sparkling wines will be just lemonade and their shots will be just water, because while they want the tourist to become drunk, they want to stay sober the whole time. They want to be able to rip off the next unsuspecting tourist after scamming the first one.

When the check is served, the tourist is in for a shocking surprise: the price of the drinks is extraordinary high, and coincidentally the ladies had ordered the most expensive drinks on the menu, resulting in a total sum of several hundreds of Euro’s. As most tourists won’t have such a big pile of cash in their pocket, in some of these places an ATM is conveniently located inside the bar, so the victim can take out money and settle the bill in cash. Other bars will have a muscular bouncer walk their dupes to the nearest ATM. By that time, the girls have long gone, but not before raking in their commission from the bar.

Check this list from the US Embassy of bars, restaurants and clubs of which they have received multiple complaints about unethical behavior, like excessive billing, intimidation to pay exorbitant bills and even assault for non-payment of excessive bills.

Find experiences from real victims or post your own story in our Budapest and Hungary Tourist Scams Forum.

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