Listing various scams in India

Travel Forums Asia Listing various scams in India

  • 1
  • 2
Last Post
1. Posted by JetlagWarriors (Full Member 42 posts) 5y 4 Star this if you like it!

Have been in India almost a month now. Great place to travel, worst part is all the dishonest and shady people. Just wanted to share a list of potential scams we've run into, and hopefully can hear of your stories to help us through the next month.

1. In Delhi, plenty of people will try and get you to a government building. They will ask you where you're going, and no matter where you say -- you should head to the government building first. You need a map, there's a better spice market near the government building anyway, those train tickets are no good, etc. Once you get to the government building it's just a travel agency trying to sell you train and bus tickets at an inflated price. Fairly easy to see through but a big waste of time. Almost every traveler we've seen that has been through Delhi has been approached and told they must go to the government building. We even talked to one couple who bought all the inflated tickets. Over 100 Euros down the tubes.

2. Buying train or bus tickets is always an adventure. Learn to know where the important information on the ticket is -- including price of ticket, class of the train, time it leaves, where it's leaving from etc. They will try to divert your eyes by highlighting certain areas or folding the ticket a certain way as the ticket is a printed piece of paper. We had one bus ride that instead of having two seats we had one bed. We paid for two seats (more expensive) and he sold us one bed to share and kept the rest of the money. We also ran into another couple that paid more than twice what they should've -- and when we showed them the price on the ticket we noticed all the important areas were highlighted -- except the price. He even went over it with them and pointed to departure time, bus terminal, seat number, etc. Almost every time we've asked when the train/bus is leaving -- the answer is 'what time do you want to go?'. One guy tried to sell us tickets at 7 am when we wanted to go for 7 pm. Luckily we had already been tricked once so we knew the check the ticket for every detail.

3. When waiting for a train, the train will not be cancelled. EVER! We had one honest guy who sold us train tickets explain this scam to us. He said the train will most likely be late, even up to 2 or 3 hours late, but it will not be cancelled. He kept repeating: it will NOT be cancelled. A man may approach you and ask to see you ticket, and tell you the train has been cancelled, but for a little money he can get you on another train. At this point he might even put you on the same train you would've gotten on anyway, or one going in the wrong direction. This has never happened to us but a German couple we met had it happen to them. Luckily they didn't fall for it.

4. Anywhere there is a temple or holy place, people will tell you in order to enter you need to pay, or need to be blessed, which costs money. Make sure to look around and see if the man is approaching all foreigners, or all people, and if he is the only one collecting money. Look for signs and clearly labelled information. Question him and be firm. Some temples you have to pay, no doubt. But if a man doesn't seem to be properly hired by the temple make sure he is not being dishonest. Ask locals to help you! People walking by will shake their head and motion you to walk past him.

5. An unwanted service that is done without you asking. Example: Got my head shaved (single blade razor) by a barber in Pushkar. After he was done he put moisturizer on my head, which is typical after a shave. Then he wiped his hands off and massaged my neck a little (less than 2 minutes). He went to massage my arms and I told him that was ok, I just wanted the hair cut. He told me to pay him 500 rupees and pointed to a sign that said 'full service - 500 rupees'. I said what?! We agreed on 200 rupees. He said he massaged me and that's full service. This type of thing is very common. If you are walking through a fort (400+ year old walled city) someone will walk up beside you tell you 'this room was the queens makeup room' or something. You must tell him right away you don't want a tour guide! If you say 'oh wow' he will tell you more and more and then you owe him money.

6. The price of the hostel changes. You book two nights for 400 rupees a night. You decide to stay a third. The owner says the cost will be the same as for the third night. When you check out -- he charges you 800 rupees for the third night. Double the price! You ask him and he says the first two nights were paid as a one night + one night free deal. So per night is 800 rupees. This happened to a Czech couple we met. Evidently there was a yelling match and the hostel owner wouldn't budge.

Ivana and I have been to 10+ countries now, and we have never seen anything like the incessant dishonesty that is in India. That being said, we like travelling India! We have liked every country we have been to. I don't want this post to turn into simply bashing India. I have met a lot of backpackers here and most of them enjoy travelling India, and we immediately help each other with scams we might run into. It's like a routine when we meet other backpackers -- giving them a heads up on how to not get tricked and asking for advice. That's what gave me the idea for the post. We like to travel India, and want to be able to do it safely. So let's help each other!


2. Posted by katieshevlin62 (Full Member 21 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

First rule when you travel to India, ignore people who approach you! Look away from them and keep walking. Its how you present yourself, be confident and look like you know where you're going and people will keep back from you. Don't give folk the chance to even speak to you. I've been to India a few times and what you need to remember is its a developing country. People will try to make some money from the "rich foreigners". Try my tips and see if it stops the annoyances. India has great people and amazing opportunities - try and not let the scams be first and foremost in your head.

3. Posted by oblak (Inactive 23 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

There are also some Taxi Scams like;
1. "Tourist Police Currency Switch" -- Delhi Airport
You might think you'd be safe buying a pre-paid ticket (see "Tips" below) from the tourist police. But not at Delhi Airport!

After the vendor at the airport's tourist police kiosk quoted me 120 Indian Rupees (IR's) I placed a 500 Rupee bill on the counter. The man took the bill and with Copperfield-like fast-handedness -- involving a book strategically located on his desktop -- quickly made a 100 Rupee bill appear on the counter, stating I still owed 20 Rupees (i.e. implying I had given a 100IR bill, not the 500 I'd tendered).

The Name Change" -- Delhi Airport
A couple of minutes into this brief transport from the airport to my nearby hotel, the taxi driver "informed" me that the name of my hotel had changed. Fortunately, thanks to my familiarity of the area, I recognized that the hotel name he gave me was that of another hotel just down the street from mine. No doubt, the scamster was working for a commission. The hotel sign of my intended destination soon became visible and I directed my driver to it, not as though he really needed my assistance!

4. Posted by ToddP (Moderator 227 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

We are regular and well experienced travelers so we are clued in at this stage... so I thought.

Got a rickshaw from a train station to the hotel.
'Do you wan't a guide'? 'Do you wan't a tour tomorrow'? To which we politely declined.

'When are you going back?' he asked again.
'We don't know yet...haven't decided yet.' ;)

'Maybe tomorrow?'
'Maybe tomorrow' we've answered.

After back and forwards conversation somehow we are sitting at the desk of the drivers friends travel agency who is selling train tickets. Don't ask me how this happened. After my research in preparation for the trip to India I knew all the rates and the train timetables for us, etc. However the agent could secure the same sleeper berth for us 'for a special travel agent exclusive' rate which was cheaper than in the train station. Don't ask me why, but we agreed and paid deposit (which was very little actually so not a big loss if goes wrong - we said to our self's).

The following day we returned the to agency to collect the tickets. The 'boss' is in the station collecting the tickets for us and should be back shortly. We sit and wait...we sit and wait...we sit and wait. It's getting close to the departure and still no sign for the tickets. We are getting anxious. Mostly because if we miss this train then the entire schedule is screwed for the next couple of days.

The 'boss' runs in with the tickets in his hand with the names and all but the 'sleeper berths are sold out' and he only could secure the lower class tickets. The train is full - we were told. At this stage there is no time to argue as we need to rush to the station.

While the tickets offered were cheaper than the original sleeping class (being a lower class) but much much more expensive than the official station rate. Simples... Learned our lesson!

5. Posted by Keep Smiling (Respected Member 26 posts) 5y 2 Star this if you like it!

Steve and Ivana, I fear your North American accents may be giving Indian people an incorrect impression that you are naive walking wallets!

I do have to say, however, that your experiences are not unusual and your warnings will certainly be very useful to all those visiting that incredible land for the first time.

As a frequent visitor to India, I have of course been challenged by some of these things, but only once have I succumbed to one of them. It was the old shoe-shine trick - a flick of a stick directed some cow shit onto my shoe, to which my attention was promptly drawn by a man very conveniently carrying a box of polish and brushes. By my knowing smile, he knew I'd seen it happen but, hey, he needed the few Rupees more than I did - and I ended up with squeaky clean and shiny shoes!

6. Posted by TangoDelta (First Time Poster 1 posts) 5y 3 Star this if you like it!

I'm Indian and I know it's not funny. But scammers are everywhere. One piece of good advise I would give is get a local sim card Vodafone or Airtel or Jio. Data is dirt cheap. Like 400 rupees for 20 GB a month. And do all your bookings online. There's an app for booking anything you need. Train bus hostel hotel you name it it's there. Also get a Paytm account app and make all your payments thru the app. Even your local tea vendor uses Paytm. If the guy says no Paytm just dump him or her. No need to carry cash. And you charge the account when you want. Happy trails. I'm new here but if u need any help. I'll be happy to help.

7. Posted by RachelB17 (Budding Member 42 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

This is very interesting to know!

8. Posted by Sujit1961 (Budding Member 18 posts) 5y 1 Star this if you like it!

Hi. I am from India and am sure this and more could happen to guests coming from overseas. A few suggestions however could reduce the unfortunate experiences although not eradicate completely :

1. Do your homework. Read on India and it's intricacies. Check various travel forums to know what is happening and what is being discussed.
2. India is no longer the land of the snake charmers it once was. Almost everything can be booked online. Stop cash transactions. Well almost. Use cash only for local travel and food.
3. A USD or a EURO goes a long way here. Stop thinking that Oh, it was just a euro, why bother.
4. Talk and finalize the rates / tariff in advance. Always take a receipt for any advance and also for final payment.
5. Don't be so naive. Be assertive. Show that you know what you are doing. Be firm in saying NO. Don't give your mind / thoughts away. I know it could be difficult but it has to be done.
6. I will again request to get yourself familiarised with the place you are visiting. It would definitely reduce your unpleasant experience.

Best wishes

9. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2971 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Quoting Sujit1961

Stop cash transactions. Well almost. Use cash only for local travel and food.

I disagree strongly. Every time you use a card or electronic payment you leak data and expose yourself to ID fraud or card fraud.

At least with cash you limit your risk to the amount of cash you have.

10. Posted by Sudhanshusol (Budding Member 18 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

i say book hotel and cabs online. use ola or uber for taxi.

[ Edit: Edited on 10-Apr-2019, at 10:35 by Sudhanshusol ]