THERE IS a new scam in town. Actually it is an old con, Version .07. A woman went to one of those sales and the bill came to Rs. 534. She did not have change and so peeled off two 500-rupee notes and handed them over. Then she got a call on her cellphone and when she was done, the assistant told her she had to give Rs. 34.

"Why?" "Because you gave me only Rs. 500."

"No, I gave you two notes." "No, only one."

The woman was now in a dilemma. She did not know the exact amount in her purse so she peeled off yet another note.

A similar experience awaited a car owner who gave a 1,000-rupee note to the boy who filled his tank at the petrol station. "I need the bill," he said. The boy nodded and disappeared. Ten minutes went and he asked the other staff what happened to the boy. They denied his existence and after a prolonged argument, wrested another Rs. 1,000 from him.

But once in a way scamsters get their just deserts. A young woman boarded a bus from Madikeri at 5 a.m. "Double meter," said the autorickshaw driver at the bus station here. "One-and-a-half," she said.

And off they went. At the destination, she handed over a what else 500-rupee note and was doing the math in her head when the autorickshaw driver said: "Give me Rs. 65 more. You gave me only Rs. 100," and produced the "evidence". A verbal duel ensued and the driver bent forward to light a match near the meter when out fell the 500-rupee note, presumably from his sleeve. The triumphant passenger snatched the note, paid him Rs. 65 and flounced off, satisfied that what she paid was far less than the actual fare.