Scammed in Medan

Scammed in Medan

Let this be a warning – don’t trust anyone in Medan. This week I caught up with a couple of mates for a surf. We flew into Medan, then on to Sumatra – there’ll be a post on that later…

Here’s what happened, as far as I can tell.

We arrived in Medan and cleared immigration. No dramas there. We collected our boards and went through security – then in-rocked a guy who ‘was from our camp’. Super friendly, and said ‘grouse’ a lot. In retrospect, that should have been a red flag.

Our mate was Charlie. And, since we weren’t in Vietnam, this didn’t raise an eyebrow. He led us to the check in counter and chatted to the girl. It’d be $20 per board – which seemed legit. He came back and said he’d paid (what?), so our boards went on…along with some luggage.

Then Charlie, our mate, looked alarmed. Turns out only one of us was ticketed – and the others were not. Ok, no dramas there, can we just buy some seats? Sure, just one problem – the flight is booked out. How do you say ‘fuck’ in Indonesian?

And right then the jig was up. The music stopped and the lights came on. We called him out, and he played his card. He wanted $80 as reimbursement for checking-in the boards. That was Scam No.1: he didn’t pay for the boards. They were checked on for free, and the girl behind the counter printed a bogus receipt. But we didn’t pay, so no harm done.

Then came the kicker. Despite booking months in advance, my mates didn’t have a ticket. But wait, what a guy – he can get some…and only $50 more. That was Scam No. 2: he’d checked-in their bags under my name, then cancelled their tickets (presumably). Long story short: they stayed the night in Medan, and had to wear the cost. I flew with the boards…chatting to empty seats beside me.  

So that’s my story. We got scammed. The guys lost a day of their trip and had to stay in Medan – a place with no sister city, and understandably so.

So, again, let this be a warning – don’t trust anyone in Medan. The airport is full of Charlies, and the staff are on his payroll. I hope you have better luck than we did. Oh, and if you see Charlie, punch him in the throat. That’d be grouse.

Charlie looked like Ketut from the AAMI ads.