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Jerusalem merchant arrested after charging US tourist $1,900 for ashtray

The Old City storekeeper overcharged her credit card.

People shop in the Old City of Jerusalem's Muslim Quarter, June 11, 2023. Photo by Jamal Awad/Flash90.
People shop in the Old City of Jerusalem's Muslim Quarter, June 11, 2023. Photo by Jamal Awad/Flash90.

Police detained a merchant in Jerusalem’s Old City this week after he allegedly scammed an American tourist by charging her almost $1,900 for an ashtray using her credit card.

Earlier this month, the man approached a woman, who is in her 60s, after seeing her smoking near his shop. He proceeded to give her an ashtray. Eventually, after thanking him for the gesture, she asked to buy it, to which he responded that it would cost 30,000 shekels (about $8,000), but she said she does not have that amount.

He then carried out the alleged scam, giving her $800 and telling her, “This is so you would have money during your visit; I will charge your credit card.” 

But rather than charge her for that amount, he went on to carry out a transaction in which it would appear that she willingly bought the item for $2,700.

The woman did not realize the scam had happened until this week; she rushed to the bank. The tellers told her she would have to provide a receipt before they could do anything about the transaction. When she returned to the merchant and asked him to produce the document, he refused, as this would make his profit taxable.

Distraught, she left the shop. Police officers who noticed asked her what had happened, at which point she told them about it. They went on to arrest the alleged scammer and he was taken in for questioning. 

The Israel Police intelligence and investigation officer for that area of Jerusalem said, “We will continue pursuing scammers with a whole host of methods, both openly and covertly, so that they are held accountable.”

He added that “these criminals also impeach the country’s reputation and its efforts to bolster tourism in the old city and overall.”

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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