This is not a love story but perhaps someone could advise me. My son and I holidayed in Guadalavca in July 2011. We met a local family on the beach. The mum was friendly and spoke great English. The dad worked near our hotel. They invited us to their home for the day. We spent a lovely day with the family and some friends. We met them again on the beach. They never asked for anything and the mum was disgusted by some people begging or telling stories to get money from tourists. I gave them a small amount of money for mobile calls and some clothes when I was there. When we returned home, iI called the family and they were friendly. I sent a letter containing money but they said they only received the letter no money! The mum rang today to tell me the government want her to leave her house or pay 3000 CUC and could I help? I explained I do not have that sort of money but would like to send something. My bank said the lady must sent bank details and she now thinks she can do that as she is staying with her sister in Havana.
I was wondering is this a genuine request or could it be a scam? I feel bad even thinking this as the family were so nice to us but I live with my son and only earn a small wage which I save from to go on hols.
I would appreciate any advice or thoughts on this.
Answer by Vic Webmaster
I have absolutly no intention to insult you but your post sounds very naive. Having said this, NEVER NEVER send cash money by post to Cuba. All letters or parcels are opened. Even in most Western countries it's forbidden to send cash by post.
And yes this demand for money is probably a scam. Cubans are notorious for inventing stories. The have to do it all day, so they are master story tellers. The goverment asking her to pay 3000 Cuc ?? The average salary in Cuba is 18-20 CUC. That's more than 12 years of income. Hallo??
Who can afford this in Cuba??
To my opinion they "play" it clever, "scamming" the new way.
How it works?
Seek friendship, don't ask for anything, invite the foreigner in your house, socialize, etc. When trust is built up, invent "a money story" this can be a sick mother, child etc. I remember years ago the trick with the powdered milk. Every Cuban was asking to the foreigners to buy milk for their (sick) baby. A day later the milk was sold back to the shop for hard cash (CUC's). Half of the profit was for the shop employee.
You mentioned Guardalavaca, well Guardalavaca, Varadero and Old Havana are places that are notorious for "jineteros" this are hustlers who try to cheat or scam tourists.
My advice: stop sending any money, invent yourself a story. For example, say that you lost your job and at this moment you can't afford to send money. Yes, chances are that you will lose your "Cuban friends". If after 2-3 years (without you sending money) they still seek contact with you they might be real friends, but be vigilant!