I’m posting this not just to tell our story but to help fellow tourists who visit Benin. There are scams, liars, cheats, frauds and rip off merchants all over the world but West Africa is notorious for it. We were backpacking in Benin recently and here is just one example of a liar, cheat and racist. Benin is now visa free for Irish and British citizens after 1st January 2018, you get 30 days for free at the borders (land, sea and air).
While walking through the streets near our hostel (Guesthouse Cocotiers) in the Haie Vive area of Cotonou, when I happened to notice that one local guy was VERY well dressed. He was dressed in a suit and was carrying a briefcase. Before he even approached us, I noticed him and commented to Malina on how elegant he looked. He looked out of place in a district of poorly dressed locals and puddles on every street.
Because of his appearance, when he stopped to ask us for help and say hello, we both did so. At that time, neither Malina nor I had any reason to believe that he was a lying, scamming, racist excrement exit (a$$hole)!
After saying hello to us, he then asked if we spoke French. When we said we spoke only a little, he started speaking in English. His English was good which led us to believe he may have been from Ghana or just well educated. An adjective which would suit his dress style and demeanour, making his story perhaps have some kind of genuinity and legitimacy to it.
However after about 10 seconds I felt something was wrong about this asshole weirdo. He started to tell us, 2 well travelled people about his problem!! Now why approach 2 random tourists (as white people in Benin usually are) and ask for help?? Why not ask a local, or a hotel or a chemist/pharmacy?? It seemed so odd to me and I wanted to walk away at that point, but he continued…
He told us a totally stupid story that he was travelling on business and needed insulin to survive and that he couldn’t find it and he had diabetes. Despite this being a serious subject (if true), I almost started laughing as i knew he was a fake or a scammer. After telling us his made up story he preceded to ask us to go with him to a pharmacy to help him buy the Insulin!! Seriously??!!!??
I looked at Malina and we both knew he was an asshole and a scammer. I wanted to prove it to his face without being direct and so I told him to come with us to our hotel and tell his (stupid) story to our receptionist and they would help him as we couldn’t help him. We had no idea about chemists or Insulin anyway. We didn’t even know our local area so his request just seemed one of the most bizarre moments from my entire travels.
At that point it was clear he was a scammer as he refused our kind offer that our hotel could help him.??
He immediately walked away, aware that we knew he was a rear end hole where $hit leaves the body. Hopefully he won’t ever find any victims of his scam.
Later on when I googled this story, I found that other tourists (presumably also white) had been approached by similar guys.
He approached us because we were white and tourists so please note it is also a racist scam.
So be aware of this please. This guy approached us in Benin but it could easily happen in other nearby African countries or indeed anywhere round the world.
There is a thread about such scams on the Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree site, the below scam also occurred in Togo, so there must be a gang of such thieves and excrement exits that travel the streets looking for money for Insulin they’ll never need or buy –
That person wrote:
“The past thread about this scam is no longer active, so I’m starting a new one because I was almost scammed today and don’t want anyone else to be! Very well dressed, articulate man approached me at the hostel saying that he was from Ghana and traveling to Niger. He told me that he needed to go to the pharmacy and buy insulin because his sugar levels were low- he even went so far as pricking himself and then used a handheld device to show me his dropping sugar level. We went from pharmacy to pharmacy but each didn’t have the type of insulin that he said he needed. Wasn’t until we got to the hospital and he said the only choice was to buy the packet-which would cost $300 usd. Becoming increasingly suspicious, I googled insulin scam while he was inside the pharmacy and saw the old thread. I got out of there immeadiatly. Beware of this scam! It is very very well done!”
My only regrets are that I didn’t take any videos of photos of him. I would love his face to be on this blog and we expose him and catch him. As you might know, I class lying as a crime and have zero tolerance for such people, having been victim of liars and stalkers in the last few years.
Next time I come across such a scammer I really want to scam him!!
Be careful out there!