An Australian volunteer who was doing whatever volunteers do in PNG.
I was there for 2 years until Dec 2005 .. I hope I made the most of it.

Monday, March 21, 2005


I have been conned. Perhaps my first time ever - though the jury is out on that guy in Madang.

Friday I was in town with the gang. It was pay-day Friday so people people everywhere. I grabbed some cash from the bank and was heading over to PNG Power to settle my bill. I reached the utility only to find they were shut. Looking at the sign I see they close early on Friday at 2:30. Looking at my watch I see it is 2:30. Damn. Shake fist in anger.

As I step away a bloke races over. Hello who are you. He tells me he has followed me around the corner because he needs my help this is then followed by a flood of words about his tyre being flat, just seeing me leave the Uni vehicle, needing some money to get his repaired tyre and how we both lived on campus. Hang on slow down. Who are you again?

I should have used my instincts here and realised that I didn't recognise him therefore I don't know him. But my instincts are somewhat shot here. In PNG I mean. There are so many people who I have met that, who once met later I don't recognise.

His trick to conning me was the line about living on campus. That melted my defences, especially when he told me what number and what street he lived on. It is quite possible that he does live on campus and has driven past me as I have walked to or from the office.

So I proceeded to press him about why he needed money, what was he doing, why me, why couldn't he just go to the nearby banks and get some and could he wait till 3:30 when I will be picked up by the gang and taken back to Uni.

He parried all these queries by telling me how his car was the other side of Top Town - just far enough away for him to be able to walk to where I was but far enough so that I wouldn't want to walk and see it. How he saw me get out of the vehicle and recognised me, how he followed me, how he didn't have his bank book to be able to get cash and how he needed the money now so that he could get his repaired tyre and whack it on his car.

To cut a long story short there was a lot of back and forth before eventually I gave up on his insistence and wanting to escape the hot sun, I gave him 10 Kina to get his "tyre". Not a hell of a lot of money - he wanted 12 - but still a con.

Looking back in hindsight there are quite a few holes I can see in his story. But at the time his quick talking, familiarity of names he dropped and sincere face seemed to have done the trick. Speaking to Martin at home later it was amusing to hear that he got done with exactly the same method last year. The old flat tyre line. He got sold with the familiarity of him saying he lived on campus and naming a house and street as well. Which of course is what they all learn in conning 101, be familiar with the conee.