The day we almost got scammed

From the annals of forgotten stories…

This is something that happened a while back in September when I was visited by a friend from Indonesia. One day we decided to go to see the Little Mermaid and then walk back to see the changing of the guards at Amalienborg.

So there we were, walking through a quiet street in Copenhagen. We saw a guy fiddling around with his map. He asked us if we could help him. Of course, I said yes. My friend was a bit wary though. So he walked a bit ahead of me while I helped the stranger. I pointed out that the first thing he should do was turn his map around (he was holding his map upside down).

Out of a sudden, two guys came out. They claimed to be undercover policemen and showed us their badges. They did it very quickly, so I asked to see them again. So they did, but prevented me from touching them for a closer inspection. Anyway, they then started asking questions, e.g. what we were doing, where we were from, etc. So I explained that I was helping this poor lost stranger. I then asked them what this was about. They replied that they were making sure we were not doing any illegal activities.

Things took an interesting turn when they started asking for my ID. So I asked them to see their IDs again, which they declined to do. I also declined showing my ID before they showed me theirs. After a brief stalemate, they asked me what I was doing in Denmark. I said I worked here. That seemed to settle the issue once and for all. They then said I was free to go. As they were leaving, I asked then what they would do with the lost stranger. The policemen said they would take care of him.

Moments afterwards, my friend who had been looking over the incident from a distance asked me what I thought had happened. So I told him that there were two undercover policemen who were patrolling the streets and making sure no illegal activities is taking place. Then my friend replied that to him, that was not what had happened. They were scammers who were trying to get me to hand over my ID so that I had to pay a fine to get it back. I then thought for a moment and realised that he was right! Holy crap! We were almost scammed!

Of course, thinking back to the incident, it was painfully obvious that they were trying to scam us: the upside-down map, the reluctance to show their IDs, them backing off when I told them I worked in Denmark. I guess I was too trusting with people in need. But fortunately I always ask for IDs from people claiming to be an authority. When I told some of my friends about it, they asked me if the “policemen” look like Danes. Well, they didn’t look Scandinavian, but that doesn’t mean they were not Danes.

Anyway, lesson learnt: always be wary when a stranger approaches you in a relatively quiet neighbourhood.