It doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived in Argentina, native or not, you were probably told more than once to take lots of precautions to protect your belongings. Get a radio taxi to go back and forth from the Ezeiza airport, don’t ever leave your stuff unattended and, especially, don’t believe everything (anything?) you are told.
At first you likely followed the instructions to a tee. After all, people probably say these things for a reason and not having your stuff stolen is always good. However, if things go well and nothing happens to you or your things, you likely progressively started relaxing your safety measures and skepticism toward everyone. You will leave your bag in a corner of a bar. Everyone is leaving theirs on a massive pile, anyway. You will use your cellphone while walking down the street. A lot of Argentines walk and receive audio messages on WhatsApp, and they don’t seem to be worried about theirs getting stolen, so why should you?
But the lesson of the day is: Never let your guard down. Take a lesson from, of all people, City of Buenos Aires Legislator Gabriela Cerruti, who got conned in such a classic way today that you can’t help but feel bad for her. What happened? Cerruti was working at “Los Chisperos,” a café in San Telmo, when she suddenly became the victim of a con commonly referred to as “el cuento del tío” (literally, tale of the uncle but often referred to as a confidence trick in English). The con has different variations, but in Cerruti’s case it consisted on getting her to give money to a con artist who had a great excuse about why he needed it and promised to give it back in no time. Needless to say, the person never returns.
Cerruti recapped the events on a post on her Facebook wall: “I was the victim of a ‘cuento del tío.’ Like something taken from a movie [You’re probably thinking of Nueve Reinas, Gaby]. I thought these kind of things were an urban legend,” she began.
“The guy entered Los Chisperos desperately seeking a key that he had lost, and he was talking on the phone with someone, saying his car had been towed but didn’t have the keys to go back to the office to get the money and get it back, so he would have to go to his house and come back. I was distracted, it’s true, dealing with several issues. But at the same time, I admit, I didn’t hesitate. I don’t know if the guy was a good actor [apparently, he was] but I couldn’t be skeptical,” she said.
She went on: “He asked me for money and I lent it to him. ‘I’ll come back in 20 minutes to give it back to you,’ he told me. And I believed him, or not [you did], but I lent it to him. I can imagine the guy being really proud of himself when he left, thinking how clever he was and how much of a boluda I am. Enjoy it, man, I like myself better,” finished Cerruti, probably a couple hundred pesos down just as the first weekend with nice weather in a long, long time looms large.
Let Cerruti’s experience be a lesson to all of you who are a bit more relaxed but still would like not to get conned and have money for weekends with nice weather: Trust no one.