SCAM ALERT: Watch out for guy who will ask if you speak English

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Central Valley California
107 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
This guy hit us up twice on the same day. First time I told him I had no money, to check with the police. The secound time I answered him in a little bit of German I still remembered from my days there. He just turned and walked away.
Bavarian Forest, Germany near the Czech border
2,036 Posts
Joined Nov 2009
Same sob story you get everywhere. We have seen a few of those all over the world. Most are druggies, homeless, you name it. DH just askes if I think they are a franchise

If somebody needs help, he needs to go to the police, embassy (not in this case of course), social services, and we will tell them so. Anybody who really needs help would ask locals, because they know their way around, no tourists.
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635 Posts
Joined Jun 2004
Thanks for the warning. I'm such a softie, I probably would have given money to him. I'll know better now......
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Mexico, Lake Chapala area
381 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
I feel sorry for the guy's father; seems he gets mugged daily.
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6,024 Posts
Joined Jun 2004
BE CAREFUL of people like this! Two years ago we were in New Orleans -- it wasn't dark, and we were on Constitution (?) Avenue, which is crowded but is a safe, touristy street -- and a fellow like this ATTACKED my husband. He'd asked for money twice, and suddenly he ran ahead of us AGAIN and sucker-punched my husband in the face.

The long and short of it was that my husband ended up with a horrible black eye (swollen shut the next day), some cuts on his face, and blood all over his shirt . . . but the other guy was worse. My husband got in a couple good punches and then bulldozed him into a fire hydrant; he says the fellow must have "CITY OF NEW ORLEANS" tattooed backwards on his back.

We did learn that people give you a wiiiiiiide berth when you're walking down the street covered in blood. Our youngest daughter was really scared by the whole thing.
Southgate, MI
88 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
Thanks for the heads-up. Funny thing is that I get these bozos trying this in the parking lot of the grocery store I use here in the US. It's usually things like they need bus fare, gas money, a part for their car, etc...
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6,024 Posts
Joined Jun 2004
Originally posted by gmm1tb
Thanks for the heads-up. Funny thing is that I get these bozos trying this in the parking lot of the grocery store I use here in the US. It's usually things like they need bus fare, gas money, a part for their car, etc...
Yeah, we get asked for food money when we're downtown. A couple times we've offered to go get the person a fast-food combo meal, and they usually decline, which throws doubt on their real situation.
Originally posted by GrandLidoRepeater
Maybe they need a good [email protected]@ woopin to make their injuries look more official.....
Yeah, refer to the above post about my husband and the fellow in New Orleans. I promise you that fellow didn't sleep comfortably that night. I can't imagine WHY he thought he'd hit a tourist for not giving him money. I really suspect he was mentally ill.
Crawfordville, Florida USA
787 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
Hi, I actually found this link on a visit San Juan website. I am glad I checked it out because we will be there in just a week and then the following week as well, before and after our cruise. We tend to ignore people like that unless we can see there truly is a situation that needs assitance. We tend to be compassionate people but so often these folks on the corners are really just making money off folks and not really in need. Will steer clear of someone who meets these descriptions and appreciate the tip off.
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Puerto Rico
68 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
Also be on the lookout for people that want to sell you a time share for a great price. These come from the states in groups to take advantage of the tourists that visit us. The guy asking if you speak english,is a drug addict well known in the area. By the way there are many Costcos on the island, none in SJ. Closest one is in Carolina,about a 20 min. ride in car. You can many things in CVS in front of pier 1 [email protected]
Taunton, MA, USA (formerly from San Leandro, CA)
4,971 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
Originally posted by carraizo99
Also be on the lookout for people that want to sell you a time share for a great price. These come from the states in groups to take advantage of the tourists that visit us. The guy asking if you speak english,is a drug addict well known in the area. By the way there are many Costcos on the island, none in SJ. Closest one is in Carolina,about a 20 min. ride in car. You can many things in CVS in front of pier 1 [email protected]
Thanks for the heads up!
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124 Posts
Joined Oct 2004
I can't believe this guy is still scamming !!! This sounds like the same scammer (with about the same story from what I recall) that approach me & DH in Oct 2007 in Old San Juan. We will be there for our Serenade of the Seas cruise in Oct. How can he still be doing this?
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Middle Tennesee
1,886 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
My DH & I were in San Juan last week & got to meet the 'infamous John Ripka'!
He approached us close to the cruise terminal & asked if we spoke English. My DH said yes & he said "Thank God! My name is John Ripka &", I quickly said no & pulled my DH away.
Now I wish we had listened to his spiel but I was so surprised when he approached us & that he would be so ignorant as to continue to use his own name when it is posted all over the internet that I reacted to quickly.
We looked for him when we returned from our cruise but didn't see him.
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2 Posts
Joined May 2007
Oh my, the blonde guy is still at it!! We were in OSJ on Sat. night (Oct. 30, 2010) waiting for the trolley when this scam artist approached us with the same line, "Do you speak English?". I had read about him on this blog and quickly replied, "We've already heard about you!" and he suddenly walked off as quickly as he appeared. My husband was shocked that I was so rude to a total stranger. I explained I had read all about him on this site, but DH was disappointed I didn't give him a chance to rattle his tale another time to see if he had changed anything. Thanks to CC members for keeping us updated on scams such as this one!
48 Posts
Joined Sep 2010
Probably time for a bump of this post. Guys like this scammer are everywhere. What I find funny is I was accosted by scammers with similar stories in both Seattle and Memphis over the past 2 years, and the physical description of the San Juan scammer fits them both!

I really don't mind giving a couple of bucks on occasion, depending on circumstances, but if they try to reel me in with an elaborate lie, forget it. The ones I get a kick out of (but don't donate to) are the ones who have signs such as "spare change for a bottle of liver disease" (seen in downtown Portland Oregon).
Tennessee plantation
524 Posts
Joined Mar 2006
This happened to me in a NY hotel Well-dressed older woman gave similar sob-story
about losing her money. Referred her to hotel security for help.
461 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
Lily and I were walking down a small side street in Old San Juan after dinner and he came up to me and gave us the whole scam speech about his Dad being mugged and the police were no help and he justy needed some money to get a cab....

I'm a tough guy and hockey player and could have said No! Lily kept saying it had to be a scam... but I gave him $20 anyway which is chump change to me and I didn't feel it was necessary to cross-examine his story.

Now, if he had been asking for $20 for a religious cause... I would have decked him right there!
1,394 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
After living and working in NYC for several years, I think I've become immune to this kind of stuff. The only time I get tempted is when the person is with a child. On the subway once this woman had a baby and said she had lost her job and was homeless. She had a bunch of jewelry she was selling, that was when I felt bad and gave her something. Otherwise I say, "no thanks!" and walk away, avoiding eye contact. I actually had a guy follow me several blocks asking me for money, I had to duck into a store before he'd stop following me!
Cadott, WI, USA
303 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
We were in San Juan 2/5/11. This guy came desperately across the road. "Do you speak English?" I said yes. He began his spiel with the warning of not crossing the bridge near the fort. He said this is the dangerous area of the island. He and his father were down there and were mugged. His Dad was hit over the head with a gun and is in the hospital. The police are not helping him at all. He was looking for $8 for cab fare. Thank goodness I had heard about this guy before meeting him. I said, Hey, I read about you on the internet. People are talking about you. He appeared to have meth scars/scabs on his face from picking. He said, You may not believe me, but I sure didn't do this to myself. He then went on his way, off to warn other people of his fake story. Sad that so many people get sucked into his lies.
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