Two Lat Two Lita Scam
The site has still has prices in Lats (LVL), pages are not updated since long long time ago, but in any case it stays as it is as a nice souvenir to old times.
A tourist that I met from Germany told me about the following incident that happened to him:
He was walking in old town while it was already dark (in winter time it gets dark quite early that is around 15:00) and than he was addressed by a stranger who had a cent of alcohol from his mouth.
The stranger was holding five coins in his hand, he addressed the German tourist and told him that he has five coins of 2 Lats and need to switch them into a bill of 10 Lats and asked him if he would be willing to switch them. the German tourist agreed and gave a 10 Lats bill to the stranger and took the 5 coins.
As the German tourist told me, this stranger was actually very friendly and offered to help with recommending on a good restaurant where he would have a good meal.
After the “deal”, the German tourist continued to walk and looked again at the coins that he got, then he realised that these coins are not Latvian 2 Lats coins but coins of 2 Lithuanian Litai.
Lithuanian 2 Litai coins looks very similar to the Latvian 2 Lats coin but their value is much lower (according to Google exchange rates the Value of One Lithuanian Litai is approximately 0.2 Latvian Lats).
The German tourist went back to search for the stranger but this stranger was no longer there and could not be found.
The German tourist was scammed by this stranger!
The lesson from this is:
- in Riga (and also in other places) watch out from making deals with "friendly" strangers whom you meet on the street.
- know the difference between a Latvian 2 Lats coin to a Lithuanian 2 Litai coin:
Update July 5'th 2011:
Lot of information in the forums about the person who is pulling this scam, seems like this person has turned his idea into a job and uses his trick in order to cheat many tourists.
According to the information in the forums the guy is actually very polite, well dressed and helpful to tourists (so I guess that that's why he manages to gain their trust).
Also a new technique that he uses is to show to the victim real Latvian 2 LVL coins and only in the time of "the switch" change them with the Lithuanian Litas.
In conclusion, the scam is still active so Beware!
Update August 2'nd 2011:
We've got a picture of the suspect!!!
We got it from a person who claims that he knows about this scammer and gave this picture to us.
The man in the picture is suspected to be the one who is pulling the 2 lat 2 lita scam in Riga!
(We don't show his face because we cannot be 100% sure and do not want to accuse an innocent person by mistake).
This is the picture: