Crime and Scams in Azerbaijan: Tips for Travelers

Watch out for fake police, tourist bar scams, pickpockets and criminal activity happening around Azerbaijan.

Carpet shop in The Old Town of Baku Photo © Getty Images/Jane Sweeney

Crime in Azerbaijan

Crime exists on a few levels in Azerbaijan. Part of it stems from political instability and violence related to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. In this area, sniper shootings, insurgent attacks and landmines are potential dangers. But if you stay away from this area, travelers won't have any issues similar to these elsewhere in the country.

Baku, the capital, has some criminal activity, but the petty crime has given way to more violent attacks, and some involve travelers. Traveling men are targeted more often than women, and often alcohol is a contributing factor. These attacks are more likely to happen at night in a "jumping" type of an approach involving a group of men, and statistically occur more during the winter months. When visiting tourist areas in Baku, like Fountain Square and the Maiden's Tower, be extra careful and keep an eye out for crafty criminals.

The Bar Scam

Men have also reported being attacked at expat and tourist bars, where a woman approaches them and asks for a drink. Similar to a scam that circulates in some East Asian countries, the woman will leave the man with a very high bar tab. If he doesn't pay, a group of men demand that he pays up by using the threat of physical force. Other scams can involve children or elderly people coming approaching you and asking for money. There are also groups of gypsies that hang out in various areas, who may beg for money or pickpocket you.

Avoid Getting Ripped Off

Travelers have also reported that street vendors and cab drivers will try to cheat you if you're not careful. Travelers recommend bargaining with store clerks and market merchants, and settling on a taxi rate before the ride begins. ATM fraud can happen here, but it's rarer than elsewhere in the world. Still, check bank statements during your trip just to be safe.

Fake Police

Thieves might pretend to be police officers and target tourists and foreign residents for money. Fake tickets can also be issued on roadways by people who may or may not be actual police officers. Police are allowed to check your documents, so make sure you have your actual passport and an Ovir registration, normally handled by your hotel, if intending to stay in the country for more than three days.

Those who stay in a rented apartment may hear a few knocks at the door. This could be the police checking up on you – this can occur if you're overheard talking about Armenia, a topic of major contention – but it could be a thief or other criminal. Never open the door for a stranger, and instead just let them knock. Authorities are legally permitted to check your apartment, but only in daylight hours, so it is unlikely they will knock on your door at night.

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1 Comment

  • Ann Hamrick said

    I'm looking for a person Frank Morgan in Baka Kala Air Force Base. Don't know if he is a scammer or not. If you can't help me, please tell me who I have to a contact to find out please.
    Thanks for your help,
    Ann

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