Having lived in Saint Petersburg for almost five years I thought of myself as pretty streetwise. Admittedly I was a sucker years ago when I fell for these nightlife scams 2, but now I thought of myself as a lot wiser. But I was wrong, because even after all those years I recently fell for such a scam. Fortunately I quickly regained my alertness and damage was limited.
So what is the main scam in the nightlife of Saint Petersburg? The main and very common scam in Saint Petersburg’s nightlife involves a pair of girls looking who try to take a meet a guy to take him to a bar where the drinks turn out to be very expensive. Of course the prices are not shown at these scamming bars.
Foreign guys especially are a welcome target for these scammers. I guess foreign guys in general are a bit more gullible (although I have also seen Russian guys fall for this scam). Anyway foreign guy on his own is a bar is very likely o be approached by scammers. So if you like to go out on your own this post should definitely be useful to you.
How the scam works and how to recognise it
Of course, there is an agreement between the girls and the bar where they aim to take you. Once they succeed at taking you to their secret destiny their task is to order as much as possible before any inquiries about prices are made. Once the guy actually does ask about the price the mood often quickly changes. Some big guy will turn up out of nowhere to make sure the customer doesn’t run away.
Scam Bars Have No Customers
Usually the bar the girls take you barely has any other customers in it. If you get an eerie feeling when you enter the place and there are no other normal customers in there, trust your gut and leave. Your wallet will be grateful to you.
Scammers Come In Pairs
The scammer girls always come in pairs. In a bar or on the street they strike up a conversation with a guy or at least are open to a guy striking up a conversation with them. They prefer guys who are on their own. This bar where you meet the girls might be a normal bar, which is not at all connected to the scam, and when you meet them it looks like they are just girlfriends out having a drink. Not necessarily looking for anything.
It’s Not Always Obvious That They Are Scammers
If they are not very bad scammers they will hang out with you for at least a bit without asking for anything, so they remain under the radar.
Now many people would suspect that these scammer girls are very beautiful or, as some people like to call it ‘hot’. And indeed, they sometimes are. But not always. And the last time I personally fell into this trap the girl’s were not at all beautiful and that was also the reason I didn’t see it coming. Now to loose a bunch of money to be accompanied by a pair of girls that are just supermodels is much less frustrating than to loose it while hanging out with girls you are not even attracted to!
How Sensitive To Flattery Are You?
Like I said in the first paragraph, this scam is not always easy to recognise, especially if you just arrived to Saint Petersburg. If you have a huge blown up ego and you think you are the most amazing thing since sliced bread, you are very likely to get scammed.
But I like to see myself as a somewhat cautious person and it even happened to me more than once. It is definitely not that easy to spot. But: forewarned is fore armed. Many guys are not even aware of this phenomenon and they are surely much more likely to be pulled in by the scammer than another guy.
Use Common Sense
My first advice to pick out the scammers is to use common sense and see if the girl’s reaction to you is somehow ‘natural’. For example if you say something stupid, and see doesn’t react to it at all, this is suspicious. But without if you just flew in you will not have the reference experience required to spot behaviour that is out of the order.
Sometimes I wish I was a bit more naive and would believe the very beautiful scammers, but unfortunately I am stuck with believing only the not so beautiful ones.
If you are in doubt, suggest another place.
Err on the side of caution. Don’t let your hormones take over and don’t be afraid to loose a girl. Stay calm and collected. If you like her, but find her behaviour suspicious, you could invite her over to another place. If she refuses, , just politely wish her a good night and go your own way.
A scammer will usually not join you to another place. Remember, they are ‘at work’ trying to make money. You should always try to suggest going to another place than she suggests. If only to test her reaction. If she reacts in a very hostile manner to your suggestion to visit another place instead of the one she suggested, this is a red light. If she says that the place she wants to go to is the only good place in town, don’t believe her. There are thousand upon thousands of bars and clubs in this city. There is no reason why anyone should be getting so attached to one particular place to the point of getting emotional if someone doesn’t agree to go there with them.
Stripclubs Also Have Girls In Bars Looking For Customers
Many girls who work in stripclubs also roam the city’s bars in order to find a guy or a group of guys and get them back to the club. Even though the tactic is very similar, I wouldn’t call this a scam. I mean, we almost live in 2019 now and most guys now what a stripclub is and most importantly that it is not free. If you buy yourself and your female friend a lot of drinks at a stripclub and at the end of the night are surprised that the bill is so high, you are just a bit naive.
A number of places that work like this
Russialounge doesn’t like scammers. That’s why we name and shame a number of places that work with scammers. These are the ones of which we know for a fact that they work like this. But since it is such a common occurrence in Saint Petersburg, the list is not complete. But hopefully, with the help of our readers, this list will be expanding in the future.
Address: Griboyedov Canal Embankment number 8/1 (google maps) The place is inside the gate on your right hand.
Some of you may know in Saint Petersburg there is a club called Griboyedov, which is quite famous. I had visited this club before and it was quite a nice place. So when the 2 scammers suggested we go here I agreed. I just didn’t remember where the club was located.
It turns out the city also has bar called Griboyedov, which, according to reviews on tripadvisor is also a good place. About this place there are no reviews on tripadvisor though. What you should pay attention to is the ending -off (офф) , instead of ov (ов).
Address: Nevsky avenue, 126к2 (in the courtyard, google maps)
Like with the above mentioned place, this is not the only bar called Matryoshka in the city. But, unlike with the Griboyedov places, the several Matryoshka places actually seem to be related to each other. The Matryoshka bar on Prospekt Engelsa (in the north of the city) also has very bad reviews.
Nevsky 53 bar
Address: Nevsky 53 (Google Maps)
This place is a total fraud in the middle of the city center. A acquaintance of mine was robbed at this place after being lured in.
If you do happen to be unfortunate enough to enter this place, never pay by card. There are reports about this bar making big charges to people’s credit cards.
Part of the building of Nevsky 53, actually belongs to Mikhail Miralashvili, about whom I wrote in my blog post about the richest people in Saint Petersburg. He’s not the the only owner though and I am not sure whether he is connected to this scam bar.
What if you refuse to pay?
I am not sure what happens if you refuse to pay in a place like this. The few times I myself got in this kind of situation I just paid and left. As mentioned, these places always have a strong man to put some pressure on the unhappy customer. On tripadvisor I actually read that about bar Matryoshka that the staff just took the money out of one guy’s wallet. That is just hallucinating. They might have some ‘special connection’ with the police otherwise they would never be able to do such a thing without being closed by the authorities.
This scams is very present in Saint Petersburg and as a foreign man it is actually quite unlikely that you will never run into it. So be aware of it, but on the other hand, don’t let it ruin the great nightlife that Saint Petersburg has to offer.
If despite the warning in this article you still run into a scam, don’t be to hard on yourself. Limit your damages and get out as quickly as possible. We will regularly update this article, aiming to add more and more of these places to it. The more people will find out about them, the sooner they will go out of business and the better the city will be.
Do you know a place we should add to this list? Leave a comment or description below.