Behind the Scenes on Scam City: Conor Gets Clipped
Filming a television show like Scam City brings plenty of real-life risk. Assistant producer Meg Barnard shares a scary story of babes, bouncers and bribes on location in a Prague bar.
This is a GUEST POST by Scam City camera crew member MEG BARNARD.
Through our research for the Prague, Czech Republic, episode of Scam City, we managed to locate a bar that was known to lure in male tourists by using a beautiful woman as bait. Once inside, the tourist has a few drinks and chats to the woman. However, as the tourist gets up to leave, a few large bouncers block the exit, and then aggressively intimidate the tourist to pay an extortionate exit fee to leave the bar. In a foreign country, the idea of being beaten up and left in a gutter is not far from your mind, so most tourists end up paying hundreds of euros to ensure their safe escape. Prague is notorious for this, so we knew we needed to expose Conor Woodman (host of Scam City) to this scam, to get a real sense of those who prey on the unsuspecting visitors to their city.
However, coming to this decision was a difficult one for the crew, as we had safety concerns not just for Conor, but for everyone involved. Once inside the bar, there was so much out of our control, whether it was the amount of money we would be scammed out of or, worse, that any refusal to pay could end up with one of the crew members in hospital.
We decided that the scam needed to be shot on secret cameras and that only male members of the team should go in, to be as low-profile as possible. Conor and our series director, Ian, used secret button cameras to capture how the scam evolved through the evening, and in tow was George (the director) and our fixer, Paul. We hoped that four men would give us some protection for the worst-case scenario.
I found myself in the crew vehicle listening over headphones to the action going on inside the bar. Everything started off smoothly, but suddenly things in the bar turned nasty. Conor was taken into a back room with a girl he was chatting to, but her “boyfriend” suddenly turned up and started pushing Conor around. I didn’t know where the other crew members were, as I was only listening to Conor’s mic, but it seemed that Conor was completely alone in the room.
We thought it couldn’t get any worse, but then the police suddenly turned up. I got in touch with Ian, to warn him that they were coming in, as I was worried their presence would inflame the situation. Luckily, the police were just doing a routine identity check, and our investigation wasn’t compromised.
Conor was taken into a back room with a girl he was chatting to, but her “boyfriend” suddenly turned up and started pushing Conor around.
Things seemed to calm down a bit inside, but you could still hear the tension in the bar, as Conor and Paul tried to defuse the situation. Conor and Ian paid the reasonable bar bill and tried to make a hasty exit. It seemed to me that we were not going to get to film a scamming, but at least the crew were okay and about to be out of danger.
But just as I was letting out a sigh of relief, the situation exploded again, and Conor found his exit blocked by two big bouncers, who demanded 500 euros. Conor managed to barter them down, as he realized that he had little option but to pay, and had frankly been pushed around enough for one night. He and the crew got out of the bar—however, with a substantially lighter wallet and a slightly shakier demeanour than they had gone in with. This scam was a real experience, and one that I hope few tourists ever have to go through.
By Meg Barnard, Assistant Producer, Scam City
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