A vendor at the Jerusalem market was arrested for charging an American tourist nearly $2,000 for an ashtray, Israel Hayom reported Wednesday.
According to the report, the man approached the victim – an American woman in her 60s – after he saw her smoking near his shop at the market earlier this month and gave her the ashtray in order to ash her cigarette. After she thanked him for the gesture, the man said she could buy it for $8,000 – to which she replied that she did not have that much money.
Once his first attempt failed, the vendor pulled out a more elaborate scheme.
The man then allegedly offered to give her the ashtray for free as part of a scheme to offer her a cash advance of nearly $650, offering to charge her credit card for the total cash amount and write that it was for the sale of the ashtray.
Rather than charge her the correct amount, however, he proceeded to charge the woman in excess of $1,900. The woman, who did not realize she had been scammed until days later, said she would have to provide a receipt for her to process the case – a receipt the vendor has allegedly refused to provide.
Police take action
The woman went to police and filed a complaint describing the events that led to the scam. Police then acted and detained the vendor before bringing him in for questioning.
"These criminals… impeach the country's reputation and its efforts to bolster tourism in the old city and overall," 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," the officer continued.