Manila Bazaar Scam: Another Modus Operandi You Have To Be Aware Of
When In Manila — in hard times like these days, desperate people come out in the open. Let me tell you a story of how I, as a seller at a bazaar, got scammed. The number of scammers in this world are getting too darn high! As a precaution, let me share to you my personal experience as a seller, with a booth, at a recent bazaar in Manila.
Please share and please use as a warning.
Holiday bazaars are great outlets where small businesses rent a booth and display their items to thousands of shoppers, hoping to get some buzz on their brand. This is the peak season where sales go up. When your items are selling, the happiness level of the seller is greatly raised as well, but at the same time their guards go down because they forget to be cautious for people with bad intentions, due to the fast pace of the transactions….. well, at least that was how it happened for me.
The bazaar my online store, Can’t Sleep Club Clothing, joined was at it’s last hour before closing, when a lurker approached my booth. I’ve been noticing him walk pass by my booth a few times, so his face and clothing looked somewhat familiar. I was friendly and accommodating to him, as I always am to all my buyers.
He was browsing through t-shirts and said, “Meron kayong pang-babae?” (Do you have something for women?)
I responded with, “Yes sir! Tingin ka rin para sa’yo!” (Yes sir! Look at something for you as well!)
“Ay hindi, naghahanap ako para sa asawa ko.” (Oh no, I’m looking for something for my wife.)
“Ahh ganun ba? Ito pwede. Girly at siguradong magugustuhan niya.” (Ahh is that so? This one, it’s girly and she’ll like it for sure.)
“Kunin ko pinakamalaking size niyo.” (I’ll get the biggest size available.)
“Okay! Kuha pa kayo ng isa para pareho kayo ng tshirt. Mas mura pag dalawa bibilhin niyo.” (Okay! Get one more so you’ll both have a tshirt each. It’s a lot cheaper if you buy two.)
“Hindi na. Mukang hindi naman kasya sa’kin.” (No more. It looks like it won’t fit me)
“Sure po kayo? Pwede niyo naman ito sukatin, baka magustuhan niyo pa.” (Are you sure? You can try this on anyway, then you might like it.)
“Ay hindi na, hindi na. Nagmamadali ako. Hinihintay kasi ako ng asawa ko dun. *pointing vaguely somewhere else*” (Ay no, no. I’m in a hurry. My wife’s waiting for me there.)
I was really trying to sell him two tshirts because it’s really a whole lot cheaper than just buying one. Just trying to make him realize how much he can save by buying two. This conversation was light and friendly. It went on for about 15-20 minutes because he was trying to be a “buyer”, when in fact he was just pretending to be one so he was extra friendly. And finally he bought a tshirt with the lowest price tag on it. He handed me this crumpled 1,000-Peso bill hoping I wouldn’t feel/see the texture of the paper. I got it on my hand, then he took out his wallet and said, “Wait, I think I have some change here.” But his wallet only contained a 20-Peso bill, nothing else; no credit cards, driver’s license, or at least ANY card in one of the card pockets. I think he was just testing if I can tell that something’s wrong with the 1,000-Peso bill he handed me, and that if he can get away with it. But at this point, I was still in that “Seller’s High” wherein I was just excited to make a sale right before closing time. I felt something was strange, but I ignored my instincts. I handed him his change, greeted Thank you and have a nice day, then he left.
Instantly right after he left, there was another buyer. She went in my booth looking at the products with the cheapest price tags on. She came up to me with the same script/tactic. She wanted to buy something for her son, just like the other man wanted to buy something for his “wife.” But I really didn’t think that this was already a modus operandi; I was stuck in my own bubble, the Seller’s High. She also handed me a crumpled 1,000-Peso bill, I handed her the change.
During the transaction with the woman, another younger woman went to the booth. She was also browsing at the same items (the cheapest in my booth). She said she wanted to buy for her sister. EXACT SAME TACTIC: She just bought the cheapest tank top and paid with a CRUMPLED 1,000-PESO BILL! Happily, I handed her the change (up until today, I’m still kicking myself on the butt for being so unknowledgeable about these scam/modus operandi).
Manila Bazaar Scammers exclusively browse through the cheapest products so they make money out of the change they get
Anyway, so during that hour I was really happy to make 3 sales so fast. After the third “buyer” left, I opened the 3 1,000-Peso bills to file in my cash box. My heart dropped, my brain panicked. All 3 1,000-Peso bills were counterfeit money! I didn’t care about the products lost, I was just so angry because I noticed all the signs/patterns but I didn’t take it seriously. I lost around Php3,000 within a short period of time. They were exclusively browsing through the cheapest products and paid with the biggest local currency, the 1,000-Peso bill; they were making money out of the change they got.
So long story short, if a “buyer” hands you a crumpled 1,000-Peso bill, make sure to open and check it right in front of him/her so he/she’d be there to witness that it’s the bill he/she handed you. Because sometimes they play the victim card and throw the accusation back at you; they can say that it’s not their money and that you switched the bills, or something like that. Make sure always to check before making any transactions. Double check if you have to – ask family and/or friends who’s manning the booth with you. At this day and age, people of all sorts will do anything just to make money easily. Be street smart and take notice of all the signs. When in doubt, signal someone to eye on the suspicious “buyer” just in case.
If you haven’t figured it out yet:
Left: FAKE, Right: ORIGINAL
Please share and please use as a warning.