The Istanbul Shoe Shine Scam ~

I don’t scam easily.

I’ve traveled a lot, and I’ve met all kinds of scammers, but today they got me.

It goes like this –

You’re walking along the street. Up ahead is a shoe shine guy, with all his kit. Suddenly he walks off, but accidentally drops one of his brushes, without realising.

You, being a nice person, pick it up and catch up to him, and give it to him.

The shoe shine guy of course is incredibly grateful, and as a gesture of good will offers to shine your shoes for free.

In this instance, my wife was wearing dirty boots – accumulated over two weeks of walking the Via di Francesco in Umbria.

Oh, she says, I need my boots cleaned.

So the shoe shine guy cleans her boots.

And then he demands money.

I had walked away by this time, and didn’t realise that a financial transaction was in process.

The shoe shine guy was demanding 20 Turkish Lire..


My wife, being a person of purer heart than me, gladly hands over a 20Lr note.

I meanwhile wander back, realise what’s happened, realise immediately that the whole thing was a set-up and a scam, and demand the money back.

My wife then starts abusing me and telling me I’m heartless, and she would gladly pay 20Lr for her boots to be cleaned.

I ask my wife if she knows how much 20Lr is worth in Australian dollars.

She doesn’t.

(It’s Au$10!)

I ask if she knows how much 20Lr is worth in Euros.

She doesn’t.

(It’s €7)

I tell her that for $10 Australian, I would not only clean her boots but I would polish her nails and clean her teeth as well.

She tells me that I should open my heart and be more generous.

I’m working on it…

Anyway, she said, it wasn’t a scam.

Later, as we were walking through a tourist area, the same thing happened.

A shoe shine guy accidentally dropped his brush in front of us as he was walking off – without him apparently realising.

I stepped over it and yelled out to him: Hey mate, you dropped your brush. You want your shoes shined?

My wife admonished me severely…

Shoe shine guy

12 thoughts on “The Istanbul Shoe Shine Scam ~

    • It’s a very clever piece of psychology, as most scams are. Ultimately it works on your greed – again as most scams do – the notion that you’re going to get some thing of value for nothing. And then it works on your decency, that you should ultimately pay for a service given. It’s very clever!


  1. Bill, for someone who has been married for so long and also married to the sweet Jennifer, haven’t you learnt yet to accept that $10 is not worth the argument that you are definitely not going to win. Don’t forget happy wife happy life!

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