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The trip to Agra, India, started as an adventure for Sally, but she had no idea of what was yet to come.  She had awakened that morning at 4.30am to be ready at 5am to catch a taxi to the Delhi train station.  After the incorrect advice she had previously received, she was forced to catch a later train.  So it was not until about 3pm that she arrived in Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. As soon as the  Western tourists arrived they were mobbed by the rickshaw drivers who all wanted to be chosen for their transport.  Tourists have the luxury of being able to pay their rickshaw driver a small amount of additional money to engage them to act as their tour guide around Agra.  In most cases the tourists eventually end up by being taken to a jewellery shop, and for Sally the circumstances were no different. 
Jewel Home Handicrafts.  Article written and photo taken by Chrissy Layton, AusNotebook Music & Creative.
Sally was taken to a shop called 'Jewel Home' where she met Munrad and his family.  Munrad and his family owned the shop and appeared to be very well off.  The family quickly befriended the unexpected tourist,  and soon they were cooking her meals and showing her the surrounding tourist sights.  Sally was even invited to a family wedding!

After trust was established between Munrad and Sally, Munrad mentioned a business arrangement he often made with his travelling friends.  His friends would purchase jewels on visa card and then send them onto a GPO of another country for collection later on in their journey.  There the travellers would be refunded the money from Munrad’s contacts, plus a little extra for their trouble. 

Sally was informed that exports in India generated high taxes so she would be helping to avoid this.  After some hesitation and after doing much research and getting written guarantees, she agreed to do this.  Sally was heading to Tokyo, Japan.

Sally left Agra and started travelling around India.  Soon after this she met some other travellers and she happened to borrow their Indian travel book.  As she was looking through the book, it suddenly opened to a specific page, like an Act of God.  Glancing down the page she read the paragraph: “Beware of scams in Agra and Jaspur.”   Amazed Sally continued to read:  “Jewellers will try to con you into buying their jewellery by saying they have contacts in other countries where you can sell their jewels and so make a profit for yourself.”   

Sally was still not sure if she had been conned or not.  The jeweller and his family had been so nice to her, she thought.  She decided not to go straight back to Agra, but to wait until she reached Madras where there was a Japanese Embassy.  There she could check the business contacts she had been given.

Sally arrived in Madras, went to the Embassy and there she found out that the contact addresses were all false.   Immediately a flush of panic swept through her body.  But luckily for Sally she met Geoff soon after this shocking discovery.  Geoff was an Australian tour guide who told her he would be in Agra at the same time she planned to return. He offered his assistance with getting her money back.  

A couple of weeks later Sally returned to Agra and went to the jewellery shop.  To her surprise the jewellers there admitted to everything except it being a scam.  Munrad said he’d gladly refund Sally the money if she returned the jewels.  These goods had already been sent to the GPO in Tokyo.

Geoff arrived that night and informed Sally he had a dictaphone so they could tape the jewellers' conversation.  The next day they both went to jewellery shop.  Again, the jewellers admitted to everything including giving Sally the addresses in Tokyo, having contacts in Tokyo that would pay for the jewels, and so on.   Sally secretly managed to record them stating this. 

Sally took her evidence to the police station and requested to see the head of the police, the Superintendent.  She was told that he was at an important meeting.  Sally demanded that he be interrupted as she had important business to attend to.  Reluctantly the officers did interrupt the meeting and Sally walked in.  To her surprise there were ten uniformed police who were all decorated like generals.  It was quite obvious to Sally that this actually was a very important meeting! 

After composing herself Sally spoke to the Superintendent explaining her situation.  He delegated this matter to the Assistant Superintendent Mr Raja, who indicated that there was probably nothing he could do.  Sally then told him she had the jewellers recorded.  Mr Raja indicated that this would be a good start.  

A meeting was set up with the jewellers, Mr Raja and Sally.  The recording was played and Mr Raja disciplined the jewellers.  Mr Raja was not impressed especially when the recording displayed the jewellers stating they were ‘untouchable’ and ‘owned the Agra police’.  Later Mr Raja told Sally the jewellers couldn’t be charged but if anything it might scare them enough to refund her money.

Mr Raja was correct and Sally’s complaint against the jewellers ended up being reported in the local newspaper.  The jewellers eventually agreed to reverse the visa transaction to credit Sally the money.    Did the reverse transaction get Sally’s money refunded and did Sally end up collecting the jewels in Tokyo?  Well, that is another story!


Taj Mahal.  Article written and photo taken by Chrissy Layton, AusNotebook Music & Creative.

Story and photos by Chrissy Layton,  AusNotebook Music & Creative

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