Dealing with Drug Dealer Scams

a woman holds three small plastic bags with various drugs inside

Rather than unscrupulous drug dealers, these scammers are typically common street hustlers who frequent busy urban areas and nightlife hotspots. These Friendly Faces (click here to read more about them) try to take advantage of those looking for illicit substances.

Please, note that this article specifically addresses the purchase of drugs from alleged street dealers in countries where these substances are considered illegal and therefore banned and unregulated.

Given the team’s position and opinions on the practice, summarized in the “Extras and Thoughts” section below, we have chosen to abstain from writing the “How to Avoid It” paragraphs and mentioning any specific drug or type of substance.

Here are the first two scams related to purchasing illegal drugs from street dealers.

1) Package With Stones or Other Stuff

Once the potential victim has been spotted looking for a street drug dealer, the scammers approach and introduce themselves in a friendly manner.

The more organized ones might already have a well-wrapped package that makes it difficult to guess its contents. Some might even have packaged a substance that visually resembles what was requested, at least upon a superficial and hasty analysis.
Alternatively, they will ask you to wait “while they go to get the stuff” and then comfortably prepare the fake.

Once they are ready for the exchange, if they haven’t done so from the beginning, they will start trying to transmit nervousness and paranoia as if both of you were on the verge of being arrested. They will do this openly, both with their attitudes and with their words.

They will try to apply as much pressure as possible, urging the speed of the exchange operation and that you hide what you received as quickly as possible and move away as well.

Needless to say, you won’t find what you hoped for in the package you received.

The keys to this routine for the scammers are building trust with the victims and then applying pressure and fear of being caught to induce them to quickly obey their instructions: follow, wait, pay, take, move away and check only later.

Even if caught red-handed during the exchange, the scammers just need to run away with your money.

two hands of different people are holding a well-packaged unknown object and money and are about to exchange them
It's Easy to Deceive Someone Using Such Covering Packaging. (Credit - MART PRODUCTION via Pexels)

2) "Wait Here While I Go Get It"

After the brief introduction, the scammers might present themselves as middlemen and offer to go get the substance for you, or they pretend to be street drug dealers who keep their stash hidden somewhere else.

In both cases, the main red flag is when these so-called dealers or mediators categorically demand to receive the money, go away alone, and then return to you with what was requested.

Most common excuses are that they don’t want to reveal where they hide their stash or that the actual dealers from whom they will actually get the stuff don’t want to deal with customers. If you think about it, both arguments make little sense and are most likely excuses to get you to entrust them with your money.

If the amount of money you would like to spend is significant, they might even offer to leave you something of theirs as a pledge to convince you to trust them, even their bags or backpacks.

Note well that the vast majority of times the objects they will give you as a pledge will be practically worthless compared to what was received. Even bags will be at most full of cheap trinkets.

In a variant of this routine, the scammers apparently give in to your requests and agree to be accompanied but only after receiving the money and provided that you follow them from a few meters away. At the first convenient opportunity, they will turn a corner or blend into the crowd and then disappear with your money.

3) Extras and Thoughts

We were not sure whether or not to write this article considering that the topic could be misunderstood or considered controversial.

On the one hand, it is not our intention to encourage the consumption of illegal substances and the support of criminal networks that sell them.

Even without considering the possible scams, you should think about the potential consequences and risks.

From a Legal Perspective:

  • Especially if you are in a foreign country where certain drugs are banned, the consequences for related crimes can be severe.
  • If what you seek is banned, even where the use is apparently tolerated, you could always run into zealous officials or exceptional situations in which you could end up being made an “example for all” and get entangled in the legal bureaucracy of the country, or worse.

For Your Health and Safety:

  • You don’t know who you will be dealing with. Even in those nations and metropolises considered the most “civilized” and safe, you could always run into unstable or dangerous individuals.
  • You have no idea what you are going to buy, how that drug has been treated, or what it contains. The effects could also be harmful depending on the type of drug, its quality, and the quantity taken.

From an Ethical Point of view:

  • You will be financing the local criminal circuits and organizations.

We believe we have made it clear enough that we discourage and condemn the abuse of substances and, above all, their purchase from illegal and uncontrolled circuits.

Having said that, we also believe that our position regarding drugs and their consumption is irrelevant compared to the purposes of this article and the project in general: to inform travelers and tourists and help them recognize and prevent potential scams and threats.

The dedication to our mission is the drive that convinced us to start this topic despite the aforementioned positions of the team and its members.

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