Scams In Turkey Post # 1: Honey.. When did you buy a Ferrari in Turkey?

Turkey - Long Term Travel
Turkey’s famous bazaar’s are unfortunately also some of the top places to get scammed.

Ask anybody who’s been overseas to one of the fraud hot-spots of the world and they will tell you just how easy it is to get ripped off by a well-practiced con-artist. Yes, I’m looking at you Turkey, Nigera and China.. I’m going to talk specifically about turkey since it’s where I just happen to be as I write this post.

There could be nothing worse than checking your credit card statement upon your return home and being shocked to discover that you’ve actually hit your gold Amex’s $50,000 limit after just 2 days in Istanbul…  ‘BY THE HAMMER OF THOR!!” you exclaim with great calamity. Did you enjoy a truly epic night of Sultan like luxury, sip fine Persian wine off the bellies of harlots in an ancient harem filled with peacock feather waving belly dancing virgins?? Doubtful..  you probably just got ripped off by some unscrupulous bastard of a shop owner, merchant, con artist or fraudster… in one of the many scams in Turkey.

Firstly, let’s get this straight, MOST Turks are honest, nice people who will play by the rules so I’m not picking on you Turkey it’s just that the 1% of fraudsters here do seem to ruin it for everybody else..

Ok, ok so usually it’s not $50,000 obvious (or that bad) yet the situation may very well arise as you travel the world that you do have the carpet (wool) pulled over your eyes by some smiling assassin who’s so apt at separating people from their money they make Wall-Street goons look like a bunch of Sunday financiers. These frauds can be achieved in a multitude of different ways, this post is about the most common frauds and scams in Turkey specifically, with the follow-up post being about what to do when you realise you’ve been done over.

The 7 Stages of Scam Reactions

1)      Horror

2)      Shock

3)      Thunder bolts and lightening style anger

4)      Biblical Fire & Brimstone style anger

5)      The Wrath of Genghis Khan style anger

6)      Dragon ball Z: Goku style anger

7)      Misery…

Turkish Scams - Long Term Travel
Goku just got scammed in Turkey..

If you’re in town along the coast as part of a cruise or some other ‘temporary’ type holiday be very careful as you are absolute prime targets for scams. You have cash and are only going to be in town for a day or so.. which means that you’ve paid and are gone before you know anything about it and there’s no chance of going back somewhere and kicking someone’s arse.. yet even more likely, you won’t even notice till you’re safe and sound back at home..

Here are some popular Turkish scams which vary in severity with a couple able to leave tourists financially so far up shit creek that it’s turned into a gushing shit river of fury, full of angry rapids and 4 meter crocodiles.. and to make matters worse it’s banks are lined with hungry natives holding poison arrows who have just recently decided to resort back to cannibalism..

The Bar Drinks Scam – You go to a bar, meet a new friend who suggests you leave this bar and head to another better one he/she knows… you leave and it’s on. This new bar has nice drinks a similar crowed and 2 rather large men out the front. The drinks pile up and your pretty sure your tab’s about $30 now, no big deal.. until you try and pay and you’re tab is actually more like $700..  Since clearly the beers you were drinking were actually brewed with magical Turkish holy water more expensive than gold… You refuse to pay, the big guys outside kick your arse or threaten to kill you until you do. Worst case scenario (which happens btw), they ‘escort’ you to a nearby ATM where you withdraw all the cash in your account out for them and hand it over.. damn..

The currency conversion scam – You negotiate for an item in Turkish Lira, you get offered beer, wine, Turkish delight, lots of product guarantees, warranties, authenticity certificates and eventually you trust the shop person. MISTAKE! Unbeknownst to you when you enter your credit card details you’ve been charged in Euro’s not Lira.. and that’s a big difference. Suddenly 1,000 Euros for that jacket doesn’t really seem worth it…

Shoe shine Scam – You decide to get a shoe shine, the guy starts doing his thing and soon your shoes are about as shiny as the new car he’s going to buy once to charges you a 1000% mark-up on the local price. Always negotiate the price before you receive the service.

Taxi driver scam – As above, except replace the shoe shining kit with a taxi. Use the meter or always negotiate a price before getting into the car.

Turkey Scams - Long Term Travel
At least they’re honest about the whole thing…

Fake goods scam – Turkey has some great quality fake stuff, like balls out really good quality clothes, watches, bags, shoes, leather products… that look so real if I was Ralph Lauren or Rolex I’d be more than a little miffed. This is not the fake stuff I’m taking about, this is the stuff, people go specifically to Turkey to buy.. no, I’m talking about the BIG ticket items, precious stones, jewelry, gold that sort of thing. It’s a really tricky one since the prices of genuine precious stones and stuff here are so good that it’s a really tempting place to purchase the rock she’s always wanted.. Yet there are plenty of horror stories with people spending tens of THOUSANDS of dollars on fake stones/jewelry which turn out (upon the victim returning home) to be worth less than my shirt; and it’s not a nice shirt. The provided certificates of ‘authenticity’ are… um… not authentic.. OH THE IRONY!! And to make matters worse, that’s about the time you then realise that the ‘contact’ details they gave you are also fake.. emails bounce and your calls don’t connect.. immediately go through the 7 stages of scam reaction and get out the razor.

How to avoid scams in Turkey – Prevention is by far the best cure.

1)      Vigilance! Check your credit card balances regularly, like every few days!

2)      Keep receipts for everything and go through them for errors.

3)      Check which currency you are being charged in BEFORE you put PIN details in, don’t just look at the amount.. it’s so easy to catch this one before it happens.

4)      Be cautious of anyone who seems overly nice. This is sad since there are many very nice people in turkey who are quite genuine.

5)      If 2 hot Turkish ladies pick you specifically out of a crowd and invite you to another bar, DON’T GO FOR THE LOVE OF GOD MAN!! Keep your ego in check and refuse.

6)      Be aware that cruise ship tourists have a target on their backs that’s bigger than the ship they arrived on.  a) Your ship leaves in a few hours so you won’t be back soon b) It’s a luxury type holiday so you obviously have some money.

CONSTANT VIGILANCE is your best bet to avoid these nasties on the road my friends, be careful and keep your wits about you. If a shopkeeper who you’re thinking about buying from offers you alcohol in his shop, feel free to accept just be careful… many scams start like this.

Next post is about what to do if you actually are scammed in Turkey and yes there are ways you can get your money back if you haven’t left the country.. I shall explain all….

READ THE NEXT POST HERE: Scams in Turkey Part 2: What to do about it and how to get your money back.

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3 Comment

  1. James S says: Reply

    HAHA great post. Never been to Turkey myself bu hear really good things. I guess there’s this sort of stuff everywhere to some degree. Nice post and if i’m ever there i’ll keep it in mind!

  2. HT says: Reply

    Quote: “If 2 hot Turkish ladies pick you specifically out of a crowd and invite you to another bar, DON’T GO FOR THE LOVE OF GOD MAN”.

    If you happen to go and drink with these street ladies then make sure you watch your assets, not hers then you will be fine.

  3. David says: Reply

    LOL @ the stages of scam reactions. Many useful tips over here (y) if I may add, if you find yourself on the end of a scam, do look for the Istanbul Tourism Police for some recourse, they are much more willing to help.

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