The only drawback to traveling is being a victim of tourist fraud (along with the expenses). It’s awful that a small percentage thrives on taking advantage of innocent tourists who come to support their local economy in these amazing places we travel. While this post will focus on the most common tourist scams in Singapore:
1. Tea Ceremony
- The victim was contacted and asked to join them for a drink at a local teahouse, among other things, to “learn English.” The victim was then given an outrageous charge and told she couldn’t leave the property until she paid it.
2. Massage / Bar Tab Scam
- The victim was contacted by XXX with the promise of inexpensive massages or inexpensive alcohol in a pub, which is similar to the “Tea Ceremony” fraud.
- When it came time to pay the debt, the victim received a notice that was significantly exaggerated. Before allowing the victim to leave the property, the owner threatened the victim with physical violence and made the victim pay, frequently using a credit card. To prevent the victim from going to the police station, the victim has occasionally been followed or escorted back to their hotel.
3. Black Taxi
- These taxis, particularly those at airports, may demand higher prices by claiming that the meter is broken or that they are a limousine.
4. Picture scam
- A common scam in Singapore is when a local approaches you and requests that you take their photo. They ask you to take their photo and hand you their camera. They deliberately drop the camera when you return it, accuse you of damaging it, and demand payment. Please refrain from taking anyone’s photo unless you are certain they are not a resident.
5. ATM helper
- At an ATM cash machine in Singapore, someone approaches you and offers to assist you to avoid local bank fees. The card skimmer in their pocket is what they really want to use to scan your debit or credit card while you enter your PIN so they may later drain your account. Another variation of this well-known con is when someone approaches you at an ATM and offers to help you fix your card.
- Be sure to always use your other hand to occlude the number pad as you input your pin code.
6. Bird Poop Scam
- When someone tosses a small amount of white paste on your shoulder while you’re strolling through the streets of Singapore, your first instinct is to look up, thinking it might be bird poop. Suddenly, a “nice” neighborhood resident offers to assist with the cleanup while cursing at the birds for making such a mess. They assist with cleaning you, but they also rob you.
How to prevent these scams?
- Avoid remote, uncharted areas and locales with a high crime rate.
- Don’t place an order until you are certain of the price.
- Strangers that approach you and make an offer or want to take you somewhere shouldn’t be followed.
- Avoid carrying excessive amounts of cash or valuables.
- Set a credit card spending cap for international travel.
- If you are being forced to pay, go right away to the local police station to file a police report, and as soon as you leave the area, call your credit card provider. Try to keep in mind where the teahouse, pub, or massage parlor was by snapping a photo of the storefront, street sign, or notable nearby business as this is crucial information that could assist the authorities.
- Consistently insist on paying by the meter and avoid riding in unmarked or unmetered “taxis.” demand a receipt from the driver (fapiao). You can file a complaint with the police and the taxi company using the cab number on the fapiao.
- Inform your hotel security right away if you are being followed or led back to your room. You have the option to check out and switch to a hotel with security features.