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Beware of Scams!

Bucharest, Romania
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1,533 posts
3 reviews
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Beware of Scams!
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In light of recent discussions regarding some posters’ bad experiences and inspired by a fellow forumite’s idea, I've opened this thread to help warn Istanbul visitors of possible scams.

If you’ve had an experience, or have factual and correct information about someone’s experience, which you think falls under the definition of a scam (“scam: a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation”) then please post it here.

Future Istanbul visitors will no doubt be thankful to you for the heads-up.

Best regards,

P_M

Bucharest, Romania
Level Contributor
1,533 posts
3 reviews
9 helpful votes
1. Re: Beware of Scams!
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Posing as a tour guide in order to persuade a tourist to subsequently accompany one to their own their “cousin’s” etc. carpet shop, is a scam in my opinion:

The fraudulent act consists of affecting a character or role for which one lacks the qualifications i.e. tour guide training and skills. The deceptive part consists of representing the “guide” services as a benevolent and altruistic initiative, when in fact the underlying goal is to get the tourist to visit a shop and become engaged as a prospective buyer in a sales process.

The final objective of the scam is to induce the tourist to purchase a carpet.

Best regards,

P_M

Perrysburg, Ohio
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3,165 posts
21 reviews
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2. Re: Beware of Scams!
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Yes, there are scams that can bite you in Istanbul. I've found that there are fewer scams in Istanbul than in other cities (Prague, for example), but nonetheless they do exist and and it always helps to know about them ahead of time. None of these scams should prevent you from visiting Istanbul, and variations of these scams exist in other cities throughout the world as well. Most Turks are unbelievably honest and would go out of their way to help you rather than rip you off. But in a city of 12,000,000+ people, you can't avoid scams entirely. Here's a post by PKUK from 2006 regarding a scam in the Taksim square area that's been reported several times on the forum:

"just to alert people to a scam being targeted in taxim square in Istanbul. You are approached by one or two smartly dressed young men, who immediately mention living or working in the UK. my examples also claimed to work in a local hotel, and enquire what my plans were. I had just arrived and had no real plans, I was on my own and friendly chat was very welcomed. One of the guys asked if I had eaten, I replied no, so he suggested a friendly kebab house in isticular street. We chatted quite freely and then he offered to buy my dinner, this in retrospect, is designed to put you at ease or even off guard. He then asked if I fancied a beer ot two as he knew of a bar right opposite the kebab house."

"Once we were in the bar we had 2 or 3 beers and were joined by 3 ladies and encouraged to buy them drinks also. The whole time my new "friends" were very relaxed, then the bill came ....... 2000 lira ...... over 800 quid !!!"

"They then suggested we split the bill 3 ways 670 lira for me, i was escorted to a ATM where thankfully I was not able to withdraw cash, however my cash was taken 400 lira ..... the whole experience was very intimidating even for me i am 6ft 2 and 18st ...... I was surrounded by 4 or 5 turks and I knew I wasnt to get out without paying. This apparently is very common with single travellers being targeted."

"having said this I still love Turkey and Turkish people in the main are very friendly and helpful, so I hope this prevents more victims and assists you in having a great trip to Istanbul."

Cirali / Antalya
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12,957 posts
33 reviews
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3. Re: Beware of Scams!
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I just wanted to add to Jo's post that it is called '' The Single White Male Scam '' or the '' Let's have a Drink '' and it is well know in not only this fourm but at least 3 other forums that I know of as well..Plus it is also written in the Guide books...

here is what is written on the Turkey Travel Planner..

turkeytravelplanner.com/details/Safety/Singl…

Another one is called '' New Traveling Companions Scam ''

turkeytravelplanner.com/details/Safety/trave…

Don't let these scams scare you. Now that you're aware of them, you won't let them happen to you.

Cirali / Antalya
Level Contributor
12,957 posts
33 reviews
200 helpful votes
4. Re: Beware of Scams!
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Oh and I should also mention that the drink scam happens in other countries and cities as well and not just Istanbul..as reported here by other members.

Chicago, Illinois
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7,640 posts
48 reviews
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5. Re: Beware of Scams!
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GRAND BAZAAR SCAMS

SCAM 1. You go into the bazaar and start looking around. You see a couple things you might like to get, and start talking to the vendor. You decide to get it and begin negotiating a price. As you're talking, you start thinking about getting one more of X. What would it cost if I added this?, you ask. The vendor provides a new quote and ultimately you decide not to buy the second one.

Then vendor suddenly starts talking about different (higher) price than what was agreed to a few minutes earlier. You remind him of the price quoted and he looks you in the eye: I never said that! I NEVER said that! So you're standing there thinking: Do I pay the higher price or walk away? Of course you've been there long enough that you want it. And he knows that.

SCAM 2. You buy something at the bazaar and pay in cash. The vendor doesn't have change and goes to get some. He comes back and hands you folded lira curled in his hand. Be sure to unwrap the bills in his presence. You unfold the bills and see torn corners, ripped and taped sections, and missing edges. Refuse to accept it and insiste he bring you legitimate currency, e.g., negotiable lira, not decoupage.

Globe

Istanbul, Turkey
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37 posts
6. Re: Beware of Scams!
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If you are a smoker, you give them another easy way to try "The Single White Male Scam" or the "Let's have a Drink" scam.

When walking around with a cigarette in your hand, people may ask you from time to time for a lighter. Nothing wrong in that of course.

But often I saw the person first throwing away his unfinished cigarette, quickly take out a new one, and then approach me for a lighter. All this of course to find a way to start the conversation and hopefully trick me into joining him to one of his bars with overpriced drinks and underdressed girls.

But just like Jo has said, don't let these kind of scams make you feel unsafe. They happen in all major cities, and moreover, if you don't accept their invitation, never will they get rude or insult you. They just take their chance. You just have to be smart enough to decline the invitation.

Cheers,

Max

Bucharest, Romania
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1,533 posts
3 reviews
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7. Re: Beware of Scams!
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Osumom, Canmom, Maxistanbul, thank you all for pointing this out: scams do exist in all large cities. Just recently, I was reading about scams in Rome on the Italy forum.

The intention of this thread is to equip Istanbul tourists with the knowledge to fend them off. Istanbul is a fantastic place, that everyone shold see at least once in a lifetime. No one should feel discouraged to visit it on account of these occurrences.

If anything, prospective tourists should feel more empowered and confident after reading about these less than honest techniques. Knowledge is power.

Best regards,

P_M

Bucharest, Romania
Level Contributor
1,533 posts
3 reviews
9 helpful votes
8. Re: Beware of Scams!
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- Airport transfer -

One of the moments when a first timer to any city is most vulnerable, is just after arrival, when looking for transportation to town.

I would just paste here a recent post which narrates about an airport transfer scam:

“We have landed in Istanbul, and as we are used to do in any other civilsed country we looked for a coach transportation to the city. The agency there have deliberatley misslead us, told us the trip to the old city is very long and charged an enormous 70 TL for the 3 of us. we shared a the ride with another couple that paid an additional fee. The driver took us around in circles instead of the shortest and quickest way. it took twice as long as it should have. We arrived at Taxim first the to our hotel which was in the old city that is closer to teh airport thna Taxim.

When we ended our trip in Istanbul and headed back to the airport, it cost us only 30 TL in a private car, and the driver took us on the main road the shortest way to the airport. Then we understood that we were ripped off by on official agency at the airport.”

And a link to that thread:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g293974-i368-k1972…

My personal approach is to ask the hotel to book a taxi for me. This way, I know that a commercial entity (with which I will be in contact throughout my stay) is deploying its best efforts to ensure that I am treated properly during airport pickup.

Best regards,

P_M

Bucharest
Level Contributor
1,288 posts
9. Re: Beware of Scams!
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Another situation that can be listed as scam. You book a hotel/cabin on a boat (through a website or a travel agent) and they advertise some facilities, for instance air conditionned. When you reach the hotel, the AC is there but either it does not work (and the mechanic is trying hard ... but somehow he's not able to make it work!!!) or it works only according to a "program" (restricted usually to several hour during the night). In order to prevent such scams, be sure that either the 24/7 AC is marked on the voucher (if the hotel is booked through a travel agent) or that you have with you a printed e-mail from the hotel that explicitelly confirms it. This is valid also for special requirements (such as smoking/non-smoking room, views, inferior/superior floor, etc.)

As for the AC option or use of a safe, keep in mind that a lot of hotels consider them an option not included in the price. If you are asked to pay the extras at the beginning of your stay, ask for the receipt and do not loose it, since sometimes you are asked to pay once again when you leave!

Those warnings are valid for any country you travel, and being prepared to adress such a situation does not mean that it always happen or that it will happen more frequently in Istanbul as compared to other cities.

Exeter, United...
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3,868 posts
10. Re: Beware of Scams!
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Thanks PM it's good to know in advance what goes on.I have been on the receiving end in different places and now very "street aware"! Good info from all especially with taxi fares ( they are to be reckoned with!)