Once in a while, our daily drill or routes can end up transformed when some weird encounters fall through the cracks. If you happen to be driving alone in the dimly lit residential nooks of G1 market, Lahore – beware of a potential scam dressed up as a sub-inspector looking out for you.
When PSL makes its way to Lahore, a majority of locals rely upon google maps for finding a new route to avoid the chocked traffic of Lahore. I was part of this lot, as well. Driving across the scarcely populated area in the locus of Choueifat School, I saw a police inspector following my car and signalling me to stop. Unsure of how to react, I continued following the directions that map instructed. A quick peek at my rear-view mirror told me that the inspector was nearing close and aggressively signalling me to stop the car. Perhaps I was too focused on the maps and the dimly lit streets that I had over sped? Maybe this was not a route I should have been travelling on this time of the evening? Flooded with every possibility, I decided to park my car and confront the inspector guised in a black shirt and khakis.
“Apko police choki per roka bhi tha, likin ap ne tou gaari dorayi. Ab gari park kerein aur mujhai checking kerne dain”, the inspector instructed me. Years of navigating through Lahore had taught me to always ask for the inspector in charges’ police employment card and warrant. Upon asking this man to show me his credentials, I could sense hesitancy in his accelerated loud speech and fidgeting fingers. After quick calculations in his head, the inspector flashed a card in a translucent cover at me from a distance. Not too keen to look at the details, I let him take over the car for the ‘checking’. Now that I look back, his hesitancy was the first red flag.
The checking was messier than I had expected. The inspector made sure to pull out every document in my glove compartment and glance over the papers. After the surprisingly thorough inspection of my car, the inspector took my ID card and license along and I was instructed to follow him to the police check post that I had supposedly skipped. It was already dark; I wanted to get done with this matter at the earliest and so decided to abide by the seemingly fishy inspector’s commands.
The inspector hopped on his motorbike and signalled me to follow. After a few minutes of trailing behind his vehicle, I realized that the vicinity he had brought me in was not familiar at all. I knew that these cobbled streets had not been a part of my route today. Or perhaps it was too dark, and I could not recognize them? Doubtful about where I was headed to, I quickly made the decision to share my live location with a few close acquaintances in case something unforeseen stumbles my way.
The motorbike in front of me was seamlessly winding along the streets at a speed that was difficult to keep up with. Something just did not feel right but I still could not put a finger on it. I sat carefully steering my way through this area, every few minutes, the inspector would look back at me and exclaim, “Follow kerein!”. 20 minutes into following this inspector, I glanced over at my passenger seat and saw my ID card and licence gone. Paranoia was taking the best of me. I remembered the inspector taking these documents; he also said he will return once we reach the check post. It was just another road encounter, right? It was a left turn where he slowed down just enough for me to see that my wallet was tightly tucked under his palm. I did not remember him taking that. Quickly looking at every possible nook of my car, it was obvious that my wallet was gone, and this was a scam.
The next few moments were a blur. The scammer had probably guessed my bewildered expression because the next thing I remember is him pacing through the streets towards the main road. The wallet held my credit cards, cash, university entry cards, and a number of important items. On one hand, I was surrendering to the panic of losing my wallet, and on the other I was trying to look for this man who had easily dissolved in the bustle of the main road.
I knew for a fact that I had lost my wallet when I searched my car for every potential item he could have stolen. Luckily, my ID card and licence had slid on the side of the passenger seat. I drove to a friend who lived in the proximity and we filed an FIR the first thing. I am still not sure where he went and what else my wallet possessed.
Retrospecting upon this scam story hands me the red flags that the scammer threw my way all along. 1) He was apparently in the capacity of a sub-inspector, but a sub-inspector never chases, he is responsible for check post supervision.
2) A sub-inspector always possesses a weapon – he did not. In fact, he was dressed in an old uniform that had no sign of an official badge either.
3) A vehicle is never inspected in a residential area.
My wallet is probably never returning back to me. But what triggers me more is the fact that the scammer is still wandering the streets looking for another pray. If I could fall victim to his roleplay, I am certain that many like me would do too. Next time you’re driving through a similar vicinity, and something feels odd, don’t stop. Drive to the nearest police check post but do not stop.