India Journals

Scams and Cons

Best of IgoUgo

A travel journal to India by koshkha

Innocent of ALL charges Photo, India, Asia More Photos
Quote: I love India; it's the most fabulous place on earth. But the downside to the beauty, culture and fabulous people is that unwary travellers can be victims of some very creative scams. This journal might help you to avoid a few of them.

The Charity Donation Scam

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The Charity Donation scam was one of the first I was ever warned about on my first trip to India. The warning on that occasion related to a particular version of this over-worked technique which was based on the use of small flag pins. The tour guide warned us to be wary of smartly dressed young people trying to pin small paper flags onto us as we walked from the hotel into central Delhi. He explained that they would come up with some nonsense about collecting for an Indian national student support scheme and that if you tried to remove the flag, they’d give you a guilt-trip about ‘disrespecting’ their country’s flag before trying to hook you into giving them money. I had been going to India for more ...Read More

The Closed Hotel Scam

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This scam is not one I’ve ever personally fallen for but I’ve been set up for it a few times and been able to avoid it because I’m a control freak of the first degree and I like to know exactly where I’m going to be staying when I’m in India. This particular scam relies on people turning up in a city without a hotel booking and just hoping that the hotel they want having space. It doesn’t work if you’ve already pre-booked, got your confirmation, and had recent email or phone contact with the hotel owner or receptionist.Here’s how it works.The unwary traveller arrives at the airport or railway station, tired and possibly emotional (especially if they’ve been on the t...Read More
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This next scam is not an exclusively Indian one but it’s one I first learned about in India. It’s particularly rife in the most touristic areas of the country – Delhi, the Golden Triangle, Rajastan are all places you can be sure to see this in action. As you walk along the street, just minding your own business and taking in your surroundings, young men (I’ve never seen women doing this) will approach you and try to offer unasked for help. They will offer to take you to ‘my uncle’s emporium’ or just guide you to any random shop that you were quite capable of finding on your own. They’ll ask you where you’re from, is it your first time in India (never say yes, even if it is), do you like th...Read More

The Baby Milk Scam

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The baby milk scam is one which we observed outside the Dalai Lama’s temple in Dharamsala and a little bit of googling established that this is one of the main places where tourists have seen this particular technique in operation. It’s not exclusively an Indian idea – others have reported it in other parts of the region or in the Far East, proving conclusively that there’s always a market for a really effective and professional scam. I can’t help but almost admire this one.The area around the Dalai Lama’s temple has a lot of beggars and they have a particularly sneaky scam that they work on soft-hearted foreigners. They are unlikely to bother you on the way in, preferring instead to...Read More

Watch your shoes - it's the Dog Poo Scam

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Story/Tip

Innocent of ALL charges Photo, India, Asia
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This particular scam is one I’ve often read about but hadn’t ever experienced until we were in Delhi in 2012. I knew the scam – unfortunately my gullible husband didn’t, and he’s the one on whom it was perpetrated. Luckily it didn’t cost him too much but he learned his lesson and he won’t get caught out again.We were in a very touristy area, walking between Connaught Circle towards Janpath, passing above the underground Palika Bazaar. We’d been distracted by a mongoose in a bush – though I have no reason to suspect this cute little critter was in on the game. The grass was so dry that it almost crackled under foot, the soil was dry and cracked. As we reached the end of the grass bank...Read More