Sunday, April 19, 2009

about the girl

So after a drawn out process of investigation I finally penetrated the story about the girl who requested help with her college fees. It turns out that she and her mother had been telling me a series of emotionally compelling lies to try and get money out of me.

Some of what she told me was true, that she is a student at the college doing the course she said, but her fee's for this year were already paid whereas she told me she had to pay the balance of $220US by early May or she wouldn't be able to commence the final year in June.

She and her mother are fine actors and obviously well practiced in the art of fleecing Westerners. However this particular Westerner wasn't about to accept anything less than water-tight evidence to verify their story.

After a series of lies and subterfuge which culminated in them producing a forged financial balance statement from the college, complete with the principals forged signature, I finally got to the bottom of it when I went and met with the vice-principal and got him to check the girls balance owing which turned out to be zero.

This was despite their best efforts to keep me away from the college with a series of stories such as foreigners are not allowed to visit college unless they are giving a donation and that the college will substantially increase her fees if they find out she is receiving financial help from abroad.

I went anyway, at first without telling the girls name, and then telling the girls name later when they left me with no other option. However I did it in such a way so as not to arouse suspicion with the school and without telling them about the forged statement which could land them in some serious shit I imagine.

The girl has admitted her lies to me and is now deperate to get the statement back which I have in my possession. I was intending to keep it as some form of protection incase they try some worse form of extortion but on the other hand one doesn't know how deep these things go and who is really behind it all.

Therefore rather than holding some incriminating evidence against them it may be better to give it back rather than risk some deperate action on their part to retrieve it. They do not know exactly where I live but this is a small town and they could probably find me if they really wanted to.

So exciting stuff and a first hand insight into the type of corruption which seems to penetrate Indian society at all levels. I can only hope that the girl does not continue along this path of lies but if she does she is only one of millions more. As Adam said in his comment on my original blog posting relating to this situation, India has some of the best of humanity and some of the worst.

It is impossible for me to know the girl and her families real situation. Whether they are working alone to try and scam income for their family or whether they are hooked into something altogether more sinister............................all I know is I'm staying well clear and hope that the 600 or so rupees I already gave them is all this will cost me.


  1. Perhaps the best thing you could do now is to create some kind of warning to other foreigners who may stumble across this kind of scam in the town,in future? It cuts off their supply route for the future, without directly punishing the scammer. Otherwise new people will arrive and face a clean slate each time, once you've left the area. Perhaps some printed notices up in guesthouses frequented by foreign travellers, detailing the layout of the scam? Recently in Malaysia people had put up notices in the guesthouses (even photographs they'd taken on mobile phones of the scammers) about the various Filipinos who hang around Kuala Lumpur and approach foreigners (usually single males in their 20s-30s) in the Chinatown area in the hope of luring them into fixed gambling games with the intention of seriously ruining your life. Even met some myself, and decided to play 'them' for a change, by acting naive. Leading them on for several hours to make them think they'd hooked a big fish, before removing the hook from my mouth and walking off politely with a knowing smile. Oh how down they looked :D

  2. Come on be honest. What scam is Aum Amma pulling? Sweet as she is.

  3. Sorry to hear that it was a scam, but good on you for researching it so thoroughly. Perhaps you could take a photo of the statement if you want to keep a copy....

  4. I am sorry this happened to you...

    Take care.

  5. Thanks for all of the comments. The idea of creating a warning has occurred to me so I'll mull it over some more - the thing is very few Westerners will be here until next Oct/Nov so I'm not sure if a poster would survive that long. Anyone getting sucked in as I did will be protected if they insist on researching the claims thoroughly. However the mother and daughter are expert at subterfuge, laying on the guilt trip and feigning hurt feelings if one starts asking too many questions. Maybe they started out honest but got tempted by the prospect of relatively easy and relatively large chunks of money by 'extending the truth' somewhat and playing on peoples sympathy........

    Oh, and I'll definitely be keeping a photocopy of the statement. I'm not sorry this happened as it is a typical slice of Indian reality. I view it as a rich learning experience. What to do? In the words of that hip-hop dance song 'It's like that, and that's the way it is'

    About Aum Amma, they are not selling any books, any photo's, any DVD's and they are not requesting any donations. So even if she is pulling a scam, which I doubt, they don't appear to be making any money at it.

  6. Great story, what have you learnt from it?
    While it is easy to take the experience as a reason to be cynical about the world this response would only have damaging consequences in the long term. Of course there are many in all walks of life who see human kindness as a weakness to be exploited in any way their imagination will let them. Fortunately there are far more individuals who see kindness for what it truly is; a gift.

    That said I would be interested to learn how the teachers and gurus protect themselves from such exploitation. There must be great pressure on them to solve the worlds problems both personally and more widely. How to they filter pleas for help? Do they have mechanisms in place that help fend off unwarranted approaches such as minimal material possessions or a retreat into a doctrine; there is no suffering it is only resistance to what is?.

  7. Hi Mike, I don't think I will become a bitter haggered miserable cynic over this but it has certainly been an eye opener.

    In regard to your question about teachers, I don't really know. The ones who are into big time social service aren't giving out money directly but are providing direct opportunities for education and training etc. which one presumes are less liable to exploitation.