You all must have been unlucky at least once in their life that we cannot forget. Some must have affected you with huge monetary losses and some must have left you in shock with the extraordinary skills of the swindler/ con artist. A scammer approaches you with dishonest schemes or fraud promises and attracts your willingness to get a good deal out of it. Most of the time their products will be relevant to the future victim. A swindler/ con artist has achieved mastery on what they’ve been doing for years and this has sharpened their skills which allow them to deliver the action with zero error or without being spotted suspicious.
Scams are happening in every industry and the scamster’s are always looking for some inexperienced individuals who can easily be trapped. In tourist regions, travellers are the easiest prey as a traveller lacks the local knowledge in terms of service and its price. In order to challenge their desires, it is very important to keep ourselves well-read and well educated about whatever we wish to perceive ahead. In this blog, I wish to uncover some of the very intelligent and hardly known scams on foreign tourists in India.
- Sympathy on infants scam
You are often advised not to give money to children begging or people showcasing their infants to get some sympathy, instead buy them food if you want to help them. But this one which I want to reveal is the next level cashless scam that they smartly execute. You will often find women carrying an infant on their waist begging against sympathy. If you find the infant is sleeping or not active or hardly conscious, there are big possibilities that the kid is not of her own and she must be sharing the kid with her begging partner against some kind of compensation.
Here comes the next level thing, if they find that you are not willing to give money but happy to buy some food for her (sometimes they will even refuse to accept cash directly and humbly pray to you to just buy milk for her baby). This so-called kind act by a beggar will trigger your emotions and you will try to picture the scammer’s status to a genuine person. Next, she will take you to the nearby store/shop which is part of all this fraud. She will point out a large pack of baby food which would be costing you much more than the actual price. You will find yourself stuck for the sake of the humanitarian and not paying will make you feel guilty or cheap, so you may end up paying for the product. The final part of the scammer is to encash the product by returning the product later and receive the money-back after the commission deduction by the shopkeeper for playing his role in the act.
How to avoid getting scammed: You need to be observing the person wisely and walk away if you find anything suspicious. If you still feel like buying something for the baby make sure you buy the company packed product that has the printed MRP (maximum retailing price) on it. Further, before handing over the product to them you can unpack it a bit so that they cannot return it back to the shopkeeper.
2. Car parking outside a carpet or silk store
There will be many occasions in your travelling when you have to hire a cab service or a driver for sightseeing. Often they try to attempt to end the ride with commission-based shopping. The common shopping items they may take you to are Pashmina & Silk shop, Spices such as saffron and Indian curry powder shop etc. They can always give you innovative reasons such as it is my friend’s shop/uncles shop. The next thing which I am going to tell you mostly happens near the famous monuments neighbourhood. The driver may politely request to you say that last time when he brought tourist to this monument was heavily fined by the cops for parking at a wrong place and it is very difficult to find a parking place around here, he himself comes with a solution that he can use the shops parking space for some time and request you to pretend as a customer to that shop. He may further advise, you do not have to buy anything but just hang around inside the shop for 5-10 minutes and come back to the car. At this point, you may feel the driver is genuinely honest. But the bitter truth is, after entering the shop you may have to face very strong salesmanship trying to sell you at least something. They might also be very direct to you saying you have to buy something as you already used our parking for a long time visiting the monument.
How to avoid getting scammed: In the first place you should not accept any such requests from your driver. In another case, if you willingly went to a shop or asked your driver to take you to a shop. You can always give a reason as all their products are really very good and want to bring your friend along to the shop to buy as you are running late for today’s schedule.
3. Tourist information centre scams
There are a lot of fake government-approved information centres in India especially in north India where they attract tourists by offering free wifi and ticketing to go anywhere in India. They may also try to sell you a so-called all-inclusive tour package to realise some hidden cost once you have already paid. They even sell you a service as small as a 5-hour city tour in an air-conditioned car only to discover later that they simply hired a cab to take you on a ride to the famous attractions of the city. It is a scam because you were expecting a professionally guided tour and not just a ride to the attractions.
How to avoid getting scammed: You always can check the authenticity of any organisation on Tripadvisor and other such websites. Secondly, you always need to have read the terms & conditions, inclusive & exclusive and taxes etc.
4. Cabs and Rickshaw drivers attempting hotel scam
This is very common in north India that some cab and rickshaw drivers will try to sell you a hotel/hostel on a ride from the train station or airport. Everybody has some unique false stories sharing some haunted or illicit stories about your hotel/hostel. They will further add that it is really an unethical place with very high charges, there are lots of better and reasonable places available around which they can drop you.
How to avoid getting scammed: Do not entertain them with such stories as you have booked your hotel/hostel after some kind of research.
5. Gift(Do not accept anything which comes free).
There are lots of instances when first you will be given something for free and later ask for a donation.
- Women offer free flower garland or bracelets to welcome you and later may ask you for some money. This may also lead you to the first scam where she may ask you to buy some baby food if she has a baby on her waist.
- The so-called sadhu (holy men) around the temple may tie a holy thread on your wrist and give you the blessing against some money.
- The Broken Taxi Meter. Mumbai Taxis.
This one is a common scam in India, and entails the following scenarios:
The taxi/auto driver would say that the taxi meter is broken and ask for an inflated flat fare, The taxi/auto will not have a meter, The meter will run super-fast, as sometimes drivers do set the meter at a higher tariff Or, they will clearly refuse to turn on the meter.
All these scenarios may lead to paying over the odds. Not only have the inexperienced tourists, sometimes even the locals have fallen prey to this scam.
So if you opt for a taxi in India, be sure to use a metered taxi (it is against the law to operate a taxi in India without a meter). If the taxi driver says that the meter is broken, but he will take you wherever you want at a low fare, just don’t buy it – it’s a trick to squeeze more money out of you. And, if you’ve no option left, then negotiate the fare first and make sure the fare covers the luggage and all passengers, not just a single person.
- Airport/Hotel transfers.
When you land at the airport you have to book a local cab to reach your hotel if you have not pre-arranged it with your hotel. A vice way is to book a prepaid cab through the airport authorities. Although the prepaid ride rates will have a small cut for the airport authority it would result in a safer move as the airport department will have all the details of the cab driver if there is any mishappening or if you miss any of your belongings in the cab.
- Currency Exchange.
This is something every traveller needs to go through. Converting foreign currency into local can be hectic sometimes particularly in countries like India which has a major cash economy. Never exchange your currency at an unofficial place or through some locals. There is a possibility that someone may take advantage and trick you with lesser or fake money. Do educate yourself to recognise various bills and their legitimacy.
All the above-mentioned scams are listed just to educate you and not to scare you. India is a beautiful country with enormous history and culture. People in India are really welcoming with some great smiles on their faces and values rooted deep, as we believe in manifesting our tourism slogan “Atithi Devo Bhava” which translates as “the guest is God”.
We help traveller’s to find their perfect boundless vacation with the pride and satisfaction of contributing towards a noble cause of empowering women in India.
You will experience an insightful understanding of the city’s rich history, culture, and lifestyle led by our friendly English-speaking female tour guide (who also is the brand ambassador of our organisation).