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Scams - The Thriving Scam Industry in Istanbul

Alaska
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Scams - The Thriving Scam Industry in Istanbul

Even after visiting 38-countries in my travel "career" I was surprised by the brazen nature of the scams in Istanbul. I can break them into three areas of concern:

The first is the Single Man Scam, (I won't go into great detail, either Goggle it or look on previous threads on here). There are many variations, and in just two days over last weekend I had approximately eight people approach me with this scam. They are as thick as mosquitoes in the Taksim Square and Sultanahmet areas. It will usually involve the person "thinking" you were Turkish or asking for a light - anything to get you stopped. Then, after some small talk, he knows of a great pub that was recommended by his hotel or a friend. I already knew about this scam from reading about it prior to arriving in Turkey and also restaurant workers also warned me. I knowingly let the first scam play out to see how far it would go, (it appears many work in pairs, possibly with a taxi driver involved). They will then not go to the agree upon area of the city, but to the prearranged pub. I ended the scam before I left a public location or lost any money. The other scams I ended before they could get far into their pitch.

The simple rule here, is DON'T stop or communicate with anyone on the street you don't previously know. Never follow a stranger's advice on pub.

The second scam is also an Istanbul-special - the cab driver scams. They include the money swtich, (yes, I admit I did fall for this one once) where they express confusion or are dismayed by the TRL presented for payment and want to switch the bills. Other scams include the broken meter game, taking you to the wrong location "that is near" where you want to go and "guess how I am going to get you there" - the wrong way. My favorite was the one where the driver wanted me to take me to a pub, "with hot Belarus and Ukraine women" and would not take no for an answer - going as far as to call the, "madam" to talk to me.

I have made it a habit of writing down, (so the driver sees me) his cab identification number, paying in small bills and having my Garmin on, so the driver knows I am watching his location from point A to B. Of the taxis I have taken here, I would say that maybe ten percent are honest.

The final scam, which is technically not a scam, is the outrageously priced night-club. Anytime anyone mentions a "night-club" run for the hills! Many times, the hawker will be completely honest - hoping you can't do basic math. For instance, he will admit that a drink you buy is 45TL, or more, per drink, ($20.45) for yourself and about 60TL ($27.27) for any women you might meet in the night club. By the way, normal places charge around 6TRL, ($2.72) to 10TRL, ($4.55).

Like I said, I was surprised by the number of scams that are in Istanbul - I have never seen this level of street crime in any other country.

Be safe.

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Kayakoy, Turkey
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1. Re: Scams - The Thriving Scam Industry in Istanbul

Nothing new there. Been happening in Istanbul and most other cities around the world for years.

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Alaska
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2. Re: Scams - The Thriving Scam Industry in Istanbul

KayaKoyuOldBoy, I am sure it has - but, the point is "fore-warned" is "fore-armed." The point is to protect other travelers from scams that are thriving in Istanbul. Just as I researched the topic before I left and was saved by the knowledge, there are items I never read about - and will possibly help other visitors that read my post. There are warnings all over the net, but I put in what I found most recently. You might be bored by the topic, but since you live in Turkey, it was not really meant for you, either.

And, I can honestly say, of the 38-countries I have visited, I have never encountered this level of non-violent street crime.

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New York City, New...
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3. Re: Scams - The Thriving Scam Industry in Istanbul

Thank you iowwaggie! We will be very careful!!! Thank you for warming. Imagine if you're a victim of one of those scams! Thank you again

Istanbul, Turkey
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4. Re: Scams - The Thriving Scam Industry in Istanbul

Hi iowaaggie,

Let me first thank you for taking the time to write a post to warn the future visitors against the possible scams in Istanbul. You are so right that there some low-souls who try to take advantage of people's vulnerabilities. I am sure many people will read your words and be forewarned and avoid them. However I should say that travel is not all about monuments, great architectural marvels, thriving history, eating good food, sleeping on comfy beds and taking the pictures of all of those. Travel is also about experiencing new life styles, blending in with new cultures, interacting with foreigners and learning from others' lives. When you say that people should not interact with any locals in the streets of Istanbul, you are also saying that they should lose the chance to get, maybe, a wonderful experience which they will never forget. Whatever you see in Istanbul and whatever you think is gorgeous has been made by its people. They have a great culture and a very rich history. Majority of them are kind and welcoming people. I am one of them and I am proud of my people. I can tell you that we are not all bad.

Last word: Don’t be a fool, but don’t be too guarded. The world has enough people who are completely distrusting of others’ intentions, so let’s brighten it up a bit and show people that just because you do not know them does not mean everything about them should be doubted.

Happy travel,

Borus

Edited: 3:27 pm, February 17, 2014
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Melbourne, Australia
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5. Re: Scams - The Thriving Scam Industry in Istanbul

Travellers shouldn't be so gullible as to fall for these sorts of scams.

I'm sure you are all mostly educated and intelligent people.

Don't be taken as a fool or taken for a ride.

You all work hard to go on these holidays so don't any people the opportunity to ruin it from you having a good time.

I saw plenty of shonky looking characters around Istiklal Rd lurking for prey. You could see the intentions on their faces from miles away.

If you get approached by a low life scum pretend you don't speak their language, tell them you don't drink, not interested in the pub, not interested in the girl or wherever it is that they are trying to convince you to go along with them.

Be alert at all times!

Be street smart!

Carry your wits!

Don't be unsuspecting prey!

I'm sure you have all dealt with many different people from all different walks of life to be able to pick the rotten ones from the good ones.

WDC
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6. Re: Scams - The Thriving Scam Industry in Istanbul

Thank you for the reminder to be alert to these scams, iowaaggie. I appreciate being 'forewarned'.

Houston, Texas
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7. Re: Scams - The Thriving Scam Industry in Istanbul

It is good to be warned. It is better to understand that BE AWARE, does not mean BEWARE!

Disraeli said that "Travel teaches toleration". Hopefully you can get beyond this bad experience and tell us what you enjoyed in this city as well. There is benefit to future travelers to see both sides.

Thank you so much,

Sharon

Edited: 6:07 pm, February 17, 2014
Trondheim
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8. Re: Scams - The Thriving Scam Industry in Istanbul

" Of the taxis I have taken here, I would say that maybe ten percent are honest."

In spite of your precautions? Having been to Istanbul more than 40 times and having taken hundreds of taxi rides, without your writing down the taxi numbers etc., I would say less than 10% are dishonest.

Non-violent street crime in Istanbul has also been invisible to me, apart from a couple of too apparent tries. May be my experience helps, so you have much to learn in this world.

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Mount Dora, Florida
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9. Re: Scams - The Thriving Scam Industry in Istanbul

Thank you Roald. My experiences with taxis in the past seven years would yield a similar percentage. Even then I actually only gave my money to a taxi driver once with the bill switch. I am not particularly bright, but I figured that one out swiftly. I probably used a taxi 40 or more times in November and December this year. My first two experiences were with drivers who were not ethical, but because of my precautions I did not lose any money.

I was, however, absolutely furious. I spend a year writing about my great taxi experiences and my first two refute my claims. I think I called Enigma and told him I was making an appointment with the mayor. I did not have another incident in the following six or seven weeks. Are drivers were personable, helpful and enjoyed pointing out the joys of their city. We enjoy chatting with them.

I have not visited 38 countries, but I have been to several, and I do not find Istanbul unique in the number of scams, or even the type of scams. As more and more tourists discover this fabulous city, more and more criminals will be attracted to easy opportunities. People need to be aware of their surroundings.

Having said that, I would never not talk to the local people because I was afraid of a scam. The very best part of Istanbul are the people. If you ignore them you might just as well save your money and order videos of the historic sights which you can watch in the safety of your own home. The vast majority of Turkish people are warm, welcoming and hospitable. I count many of them as my friends.

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10. Re: Scams - The Thriving Scam Industry in Istanbul

iowaaggie, All above posters gave very good answers. We already have lots of threads about possible scams. And again what is the purpose of testing these people by going along with their scams for a while?.Are you here in Istanbul to prove that people will scam you or enjoy the city?. I notice from your profile that you are a rather unhappy and critical traveller. In Ukraine and Kiev most of what you talk about is corrupt police and scams. I think, like the previous travellers suggested, you need an effort to understand and enjoy your surroundings and the people in every country you go to.and also report about your positive experiences.

enigma...

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