Azerbaijan: Crime & Scams: Look Out for These

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 possible. But if you stay out of this area, you shouldn't have problems with these issues.

Baku, the capital, has some criminal elements like many cities around the world, but the problem is that petty crime has given way to more violent attacks, and some involve foreigners. Male tourists are more targeted than females, and often alcohol is at play. These attacks are more likely to happen at night in a "jumping" type of an approach involving a group of men and seem to occur more in the winter months. Tourist areas in this city like Fountain Square and the Maiden's Tower should be avoided for their high risk of crime.

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

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

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 especially occur if you're heard talking about Armenia, a topic of major contention -- but it could be a thief or other criminal. Travellers advise never opening the door for a stranger and instead just letting 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,

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