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Scam Stories

We have travelled heaps, even been to bali about 5 times, and yet we were scammed...by the same guy... 3 times!!!! What scams have you been taken for?
6 years ago, February 1st 2013 No: 1 Msg: #165814  
The first night we arrived in Bali my hubby went down to the Circle K (like a 7-11) to get some cash from the atm, and by insect repellant that i had forgotten. He got out IR$500,000 (AUD$50) all in $100,000 notes and bought the insect repellant at a whole $18,000. He handed the guy a $100,000 and the guy replied he needed another $8000 and suddenly my hubbies $100,000 was a $10,000! My hubby was a bit confused, having just arrived and not working out money at this point, handed over another $100,000 and was given $2000 change! He got back to me at the cafe realising what had happenned, staring intently at the money realising it did have an extra 0 and he had been scammed 😞

But even more impressively, 1 hour later he returned to the same shop to get some goods for the kids (milk, biscuits, fruit) and beer, and somehow the guy managed to do it again. This time my hubby said he sort of picked it but the guy definitly switched the 100,000 in his hand for a 10,000 and gave him dodgy change back!

Now my hubby was furious and everytime we bought anything we would say out loud what we were handing over, note by note, so that hopefully that didnt happen again. Then on the last night we were there, when we were relaxed and had had a few beers at the beach, my hubby happenned back to the same Circle K. This time being very very careful he handed over $100,000 to be again asked for more money for something costing $16,000. My hubby went mad "Theif" "theif" he yelled at the guy. "i just gave you 100,000, it is a ll i have, and you have switched it for 10,000". The guy just looked at him and instantly gave him the correct change!

My poor hubby was furious as over all of this...but in the end it was about AUD$40 we lost so not very much. But first time we've been scammed like that or at least realised it. Reply to this

6 years ago, February 3rd 2013 No: 2 Msg: #165884  
B Posts: 897
An old guy in Bali who wanted me to help him post some letter that were urgent business and he had to borrow 10,000 rupes so he could buy stamps........i offered to take the letters and buy the stamps for him and he refused and said he had to have the letters posted himself so his fingerprints were on them....nah sorry mate.

Im sure i also got the 100,000 v 10,000 wrongly given by a money changer in a rush too. Reply to this

6 years ago, February 4th 2013 No: 3 Msg: #165909  
So sad, but it happens everywhere. Sometimes we lost big money. As a traveler we must be very careful and be aware of the environment. Reply to this

6 years ago, February 9th 2013 No: 4 Msg: #166139  
great topic as I just found this read by LP and was about to ask fellow TravelBlogers what they encountered on the road:-) we have been thinking about all those scams a lot lately as South and Central America is said to be full of them...


we have been scammed at the border crossing between Mongolia and China where money changers have 'enhanced' calculators so even when I checked myself it came to the same amount...only later I realized that it was wrong by a few USD

also before this trip we had been scammed in Gran Canaria by a European guy who was ' robbed' and needed money for food etc. we did not want to assume he was not in need but when he came back to our hotel to ask for more it rang a bell then... how rude to try to steel twice from the same people haha

fortunately nothing big has ever happened but I am curious what others may have to say :-)
Reply to this

6 years ago, February 11th 2013 No: 5 Msg: #166197  
Ha, I think I might have the most interesting scam of them all, happening in the most interesting place of them all.

Way back in 1994 my brother and I happened to pass through the mainland part of Equatorial Guinea, a country so obscure at the time (this was before oil was discovered there, and just after a brutal dictatorship had been toppled, a man who had managed to kill of more than a third of his fellow countrymen before he was brought down), that few people knew about it and less travelled through it. So you can imagine that we weren't really that concerned about being scammed, after all, what are the chances in a country without tourists?

Nevertheless, we were still on guard, but the man who eventually managed to make us part with our money was better than us (I will freely admit that). What happened? Well we were walking down the street of Bata, a town of about 50000 inhabitants, when we were approached by a fellow claiming to be working for the newly set up ministry of tourism. He asked us what we were doing here, because the country had only just opened up and we were, more or less, the first visitors he had seen. He actually thought we were foreign contractors, until we told him we were travelling through, because they were at that time the only white people who had started dripping in.

So, since we were tourists he asked us if we would be interested in helping him out. The country wanted tourists, but didn't know how to go about it. They had just set up a new National Park in the interior of the country for lowland jungle gorillas, elephants and other assorted jungle creatures. His question was, would we be interested in going there with him, and giving feedback on our experience afterwards which they could use to figure out what exactly a tourist would expect when taking a tour of the jungle, what would be a good price and what should be provided for said price. Now, he told us, he couldn't give it to us for free, but we could get it at a reduced price. We would be in the jungle for 5 days or so, with a guide, accommodation and food, for 50 dollars each. Now, that is a bargain really, so we were tempted.

Yes, tempted, but not stupid. We didn't quite trust it completely, nor did we quite trust him, despite the fact we were in Equatorial Guinea. So we said we wanted to think about it. No problem he said, he understood. In the meantime would we be interested in a free guided tour of Bata? Sure, we would. So he took us around, explaining about their troubled history and their new found freedom and how they were trying to promote tourism. He brought us to this hotel which was being built at the beach, and all the workers were basically grovelling at him as he talked to them. We couldn't understand what he was saying, but it was clear he was a man of some standing. Next he dropped by what he claimed was a good friend of his, the manager of the only bank in town. They talked, and again, it just confirmed in our minds that he was genuinely somebody important. And so it went on and on, and yet, we still didn't take the bait.

We told him we would sleep on it and give him an answer in the morning. He said, it was alright, whatever we wanted, he didn't seem that bothered. So we talked about it in the evening between ourselves and eventually decided that it just was a good opportunity and he seemed like he was exactly who he said he was. Next day we told him we would take the tour. He brought us to his office, and there were tourist folders on his desk, posters on the wall, all kind of paperwork, basically everything you would expect from such a place. Again, it made us feel more comfortable with our decision. He asked for our passports, but not our money to start with. He would bring back our passports in the evening, and we could pay him then. He needed to fax our details through to his direct boss in Malabo the capital and arrange everything, so we left him at it and walked around a bit during the day.

That evening he came by our hotel, handed back our passports and a itinerary of our tour and a receipt with the costs for it, as well as some folders on the park. We payed him, he told us we would be picked up at eight the next day, so be ready.

Next day at eight, there was nobody. But we weren't worried yet, after all this was Africa and nobody ever was on time. But by twelve we started getting this sinking feeling that we had been had. And so we passed by the office, it was empty! And we knew we had just lost 100 dollars between the two of us. We went to the bank manager to ask him about his friend. He told us this guy wasn't his friend at all.

He had come into the bank, claiming to work for the two of us. He had told the manager that we were foreign investors and he was representing us, hence the bank manager had been very friendly to him and treated him with the utmost respect. Of course, since he had been talking in the local lingo, we couldn't understand what was being said at the time. He had been very clever. As we retraced our steps we realised he had done this with everybody we had met. At the hotel he had told them we were the foreigners who were paying for it to be built and again he our representative, hence their grovelling towards him.

And so ends the story of two travellers being duped in the most unlikely of countries. But we wished him well in the end anyway, after all, with the amount of effort he had put into this scam, he actually deserved it. Reply to this

6 years ago, February 11th 2013 No: 6 Msg: #166229  
Here's a posting from someone by the name "Anna Kagenya": She has Beyonce's picture on her profile. Go figure!

hello all
Am Anna and i arrange volunteers here in kenya and am based in Kenya.
i will offer you a place to stay- others live with me in my house and some like to leave on there own.
we only charge money for accommodation in a shared room but different beds with 3 meals per day.
The volunteer work can range from community projects like in kibera and mathare slums,orphanage,teaching and hospitals among much more.
The volunteers can stay as long as they wish and the charges are only 10 dollars per day for accommodation and meals.
Talk to me if you would wish to volunteer here in Kenya. Reply to this

6 years ago, February 14th 2013 No: 7 Msg: #166292  
S Posts: 13
i am kiya and i arrange volunteers here in malaysia. you can contact me here too

[Edited: 2013 Feb 14 10:34 - littlewing:163970 ]
Reply to this

6 years ago, February 15th 2013 No: 8 Msg: #166332  
Very sad....but it happens almost every where.we should be careful to any unknown place. Reply to this

6 years ago, February 16th 2013 No: 9 Msg: #166396  
B Posts: 281
I fully expect a scam here and there as I go....lord knows I am probably one of the worse currency exchange figurer-outers ever! They see me coming a mile away. I laugh it off. It is just the horrible charm of traveling isn't it. Taxis always seem to be my main source of frustration. I've lost more money from them than anything else.

The only time I get serious with scammers is when they cross my safety and become a liability or a danger to my person. You have to be able to read the situation and decide in an instant how you are going to deal. A real gamble. Like good ol' Kenny Rogers used to sing, gotta know when to hold em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run! Reply to this

6 years ago, February 16th 2013 No: 10 Msg: #166418  
B Posts: 897
Mmm..have to agree with the Taxis thing. F.Ps taxis are notoriously expensive hence why i hitched a lot but the trip from Faaa airport to the Manava cost me 27000 on my own when i arrived..and was charged for two pieces of luggage..when I came back thru Papeete I was with R and his wife and a fluent french speaker ...somehow the fair was only 20000.
Reply to this

6 years ago, February 18th 2013 No: 11 Msg: #166467  
We arrive to Acapulco, find the street where our hotel is located, cannot find the hotel. Ask for directions a few times, drive back and forth, need to drive back once more and Leila turns left on a green light when no traffic is approaching. Bad idea! Apparently this is illegal in Acapulco and Leila is pulled over by the police. After expressing apologies and promising never to do it again the officer explains that Leila will receive a ticket and her license will be held at the station until the ticket is paid. Leila replies "Ok, we understand, but now that you are here, would you mind bringing us to our hotel because we cannot seem to find it." So, we get a police escort to the Holiday Inn - NICE! (This would be a good time to add that Acapulco police have quite the reputation for mordidas , which are illegal to offer or accept.) Once in front of the hotel, the officer comes back and explains that the police station is very far and difficult to find, the fine for the ticket will cost more at the station (over $100), it will be expensive to go by taxi, and offers us to pay on the spot. We know the scam - and decline the offer. We then ask for his name and licence plate number and very visibly write it down on a scrap of paper. He explains again and we again decline. After a few more rounds of this he returns to his car to write up the ticket. Next up; officer number two. This time the fine for the ticket drops to $80 then $60 if we want to pay on the spot because he doesn't want us to be inconvenienced by having to go to the station and all. Again we decline. After a few more rounds he returns to the squad car, then goes into our hotel. A few moments later, officer number 2 returns with an employee from the hotel who is smiling big and welcomes us to the hotel in very good English, then he explains to us the same thing the officers had already explained. We reply that we know the mordida scam. He laughs, smiles, and suggests we give a tip of maybe $30. We counter with $20. The police agree, seem appeased, and return Leila's license.

We know of the scam. We know that by giving in we are contributing to and encouraging corruption. Our sincere apologies, but hey, we're on vacation and would rather pay $20 to avoid spending a day locating the police station and taking care of a ticket. Plus, we got to practice our negotiating skills. Reply to this

6 years ago, February 18th 2013 No: 12 Msg: #166475  
Scams abound here in Vietnam, so many in fact that I am currently writing a blog about them.

I recently got ripped off in Hoi An for some shoddily made trousers and some really poor quality footwear, which I admittedly paid far too much for.

One of the major scams that affects both locals and tourists is the petrol station scam. Tanking up is always a process of organised chaos and many petrol pumps attendants often 'forget' to reset the pump to zero. In the process they conveniently short change you by giving you less petrol than you asked for.

By the time you have handed over your money and realised that you have been ripped off, the attendant is already filling up the next bike, which makes this scam very hard to challenge.

Of course, the amounts we are talking about are small, but it's the principle and the fact that they are so blatant about it, that really gets my back up. Reply to this

6 years ago, February 18th 2013 No: 13 Msg: #166505  
B Posts: 281

In response to: Msg #166396

Don't feel too guilty about giving in to the mordida (bribe). In Mexico it is a way of life and maybe I have just become accustomed to it, I didn't even think of it as a scam! It is deeply-rooted into the cultural fabric of this nation. I just paid a high official in the form of a bottle of expensive brandy just to get my paperwork processed faster. If you want things done here that is how it is. Doesn't mean it's right. Cockle also reminded me of the scams at the Pemex gas stations. The gas jockeys will almost always try the zero scam on any rental car that pulls up.

Reply to this

6 years ago, February 20th 2013 No: 14 Msg: #166585  
B Posts: 277
The infamous tea scam almost happened to us in Shanghai. Resting our feet outside the Shanghai museum we started chatting with three charming Chinese girls. We talked for quite a long time on different subjects, they spoke very good English. It was really interesting to get the opinion of young Chinese people as usually the language barrier makes it almost impossible to talk to Chinese people. After a long time, maybe half an hour, one of the girls suggested, sort of in passing, that we go to have some tea and continue talking. The only reason we said no was that we were leaving that same day and needed to get back to the hotel and pack our bags. When I came back home I read about people who did take up the invitation, then were taken to a very expensive tea house where they were finally presented with a bill of $ 100's. However, I do want to say that we have met lot's of people in China who have been genuinely interested and generously giving us their help and bought us snacks and tea and small gifts. Unfortunately, where there are tourists there are individuals who try to use dishonest means to make money, I know this from many places, and as an experienced traveler you learn to be a bit cautious. Reply to this

6 years ago, February 22nd 2013 No: 15 Msg: #166649  

In response to: Msg #166585

Inga...I am one who accepted the invitation to have a cup of tea and continue chatting...The Tea Scam.

That and other Scam stories in my blog CHINA...Scams, Scams & more Scams...the Unsuspecting Tourist

I've even had the pleasure of having one of the scammers contact me as a result of this blog! Reply to this

6 years ago, February 23rd 2013 No: 16 Msg: #166679  
B Posts: 277
After reading David's entertaining, but also scary, blogs I remembered another scam that we heard about in Shanghai. A man is selling mobile phones, major well known brand at a good price. After all, mobile phones are made in China so it is reasonable that they are much cheaper. Our friend checks it carefully, it is really a great deal. He pays the money, and the dealer takes the phone and puts it in the box with the charger, as he carefully explains. Happy friend goes back to the hotel with his new phone, only to discover that the phone in the box is a much cheaper phone. I don't think that bargains are possible, anything very cheap, be it designer clothes or handbags or electronics, is either stolen or fake. And friendly people in places with lot's of tourists are also something to be suspicious about. I know this as I live in an popular tourist destination, noone here would approach tourists just to chat unless there is a reason. Reply to this

6 years ago, February 26th 2013 No: 17 Msg: #166762  
I always always get in trouble with Taxi drivers...but I've come across a few other kinds. I'm quite wary of them scammers though by far I've managed to walk away in most occasions...

Indochina: The Art of Scamming Reply to this

6 years ago, March 7th 2013 No: 18 Msg: #167084  
Oh wow, some of you have some quite scary scams occurred. Daves has reminded me of some markets in Beijing where we'd been told by the hotel that it was beside the gucci factory so we would get 'real' gucci products very cheaply as they sneak them out.

We went to the markets and looked around and found something we liked. Normal negotiations were going on about price but at one of the stalls we started to say no and walk off and the woman grabbed my hubbies arm to stop him walking away. At the exact same time while carrying on about the price she managed to drag her hand down his hand and get his wedding ring off!

It just so happenned he had had a broken hand earlier that year and the scar on his hand was still very raw so as the ring hit the scar and it hurt he instinctively grabbed her arm with his other hand happenning to find his wedding ring in her hand. He had grabbed her with quite a strong grib and at 6'3'' and quite a solid guy he scared the hell out of this tiny lady....which was good as she handed it back straight away and they all left us alone as we left. Reply to this

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