How to Avoid Common Travel Scams in Turkey

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How can you spot con artists from friendly locals in Turkey? Ruth Terry shares her tips on how to spot scammers, dodgy carpet salesmen and stay safe in Istanbul's Grand Bazaar.

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A shop salesman waits at the 550-year-old Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey Photo © iStock/emreogan

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The first time I went to my local pazar (weekly market), I spent quite a bit more money than I intended to.

I was blown away by the variety of dried fruit, plump dates, sweet dried apricots, and wrinkly figs and excitedly pointed out what I wanted to the vendor. I didn’t know how to ask for what I wanted in metric units or in Turkish – much less how to say “that’s enough!” when he kept adding more and more fruit to the bag. I walked away with about a kilo (2lbs) of fruit and $50 less in my wallet.

Some might say I got scammed but I saw it as a learning experience – especially since I technically got what I paid for at what I learned later was a fair price.

Still, there are a lot of lessons in this experience – the first one being, beware of the upsell – that will keep you from getting taken advantage of during your trip to Turkey. 

While the upsell might not technically be considered a rip-off, pretty much every scam can be avoided if you do some research and set boundaries ahead of time.

Taking the time to understand cultural nuances is a great way to prevent yourself from being duped. Armed with knowledge, you can relax when there is no actual threat and identify problematic behavior when it does come your way. Here’s what you need to know to prevent two common scams before they even start. 

When a stranger invites you for a drink

Turkey has a rich and deeply-ingrained hospitality culture, in part due to the influence of Islam.

Locals take great pride in their history, cultural heritage, and national identity and are eager to share it with visitors. Talking to tourists, and even asking direct or personal questions, is normal and doesn’t necessarily mean the local in question is out to get you.

Especially in the Old Town area that includes the Grand Bazaar, it is customary for vendors to strike up conversations and for vendors to offer you a tea or small gift, or hediye.

However, don’t accept “free” jewelry or flowers from random people on the street – unless you want to pay for it and be stuck carrying a flower around all day.

Similarly, if a person offers you an alcoholic drink or invites you to a bar, that’s a red flag. Alcohol is heavily taxed and quite expensive relative to other goods in Turkey, making it extremely unlikely that anyone is going to offer you booze for free.

A common scam, which fellow ex-pats tell me has gone on at least since the 1990s, goes like this:

A man will approach you, say hello and engage you in conversation, and then ask if you want to get a drink.

He’ll offer to take you to a bar or restaurant where he knows the best wine or the best kebab and insist that you join him. Once there, you may be joined by a group of women or some of his friends.

At the end of the night, you’ll find yourself in possession of an inflated bill. If you refuse to pay, things could get ugly. 

Fortunately, this scam is incredibly easy to avoid. The internet veritably teems with reviews of bars and restaurants. Choose to go to reputable ones with positive reviews. 

If your new “friend” insists that you only go to this particular bar that he knows, and won't compromise on an alternative, don’t go with him. You can always find drinking buddies at trusted establishments recommended on review sites.

While you’re online, check out the Overseas Security Advisory Council report on Turkey and Travelscams.org, a crowdsourced database of scams spanning more than 100 countries, to see what other scams may be trending.

How to know you’re buying a real Turkish carpet

Turkish hospitality also permeates business culture in Istanbul, a merchant city since Constantine founded it in 330 A.D.

Shopping here is more relational – and more protracted – than you may be used to. Just try buying a carpet without storytelling and copious cups of tea. You will fail. Sellers aren’t necessarily trying to “butter you up”; this is how business gets done here.

Travelers to Turkey always worry about getting ripped off buying a carpet. As in any country, there are a few dodgy dealers but, again, there’s a lot you can do ahead to protect yourself.

Learn from my dried fruit debacle: decide what you want, how much of it, and what you can afford to spend before you even start looking.

Check out YouTube videos, articles, and the Turkish Cultural Foundation website for information about traditional Turkish crafts, including carpet weaving, so you know what to look for.

Understand what makes Turkish carpets distinct – especially from imports made from inferior synthetic materials. For example, Turkish rugs are traditionally made from wool, silk, and cotton yarn, which is colored with natural dyes like madder and indigo. Wool dyed this way has tonal variations that add visual depth and interest, while silk has a luster and reflective properties that synthetic fibers can’t match.

Make a list of trustworthy sellers by talking to friends who have bought carpets in Turkey or asking for recommendations from trusted locals. You can also check out the Turkish Cultural Foundation’s “Who’s Who” list to discover master artisans associated with various Turkish crafts and how to contact them.

When it comes to mailing your carpet home, you’ll just have to trust your dealer. English is not widely spoken outside tourist areas and government-mandated shipping regulations can be complicated and subject change without notice. A reputable carpet vendor should be able to give you a tracking number by the end of the working day, or at least within 24 hours.

Other scams to be aware of in Turkey

It only takes a little research to avoid the most prevalent scams in Turkey. But after that, don’t sweat the little stuff. You’ll never know whether your taxi driver took you the long way to run up the meter or because the scenic route actually avoided the traffic congestion that on main roads – I never do and I live here.

And, does it really matter if you paid the yabanci (foreigner) price for that box of Turkish delight or set of teacups? Do your homework to find out about cultural norms and what to look for when buying big-ticket items, but don’t let worrying about being scammed steal the joy of traveling in Turkey.

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41 Comments

  • John C said

    My first exotic overseas trip when I was 20 was to Turkey. I was laughing as I read the series of events "Would you like a drink friend". That exact scerio happened to me complete with the heavies and a thretening manager. Some how I kept my cool. Once I realised a scam was on (and before the bill was presented) I had gone to the bathroom where I removed all my credit cards and major money to my sock. So after the bill was presented (yep - over $1000 for 2 drinks) and i showed I only had about $20 they went crazy. I just wanted to get out of the building so I offered to go up to an ATM, Of course the heavies came along. So there I am at the ATM, card in hand pissing myself. And I bolt down the road as fast as I can like a crazy person. I was frantic at the time and for a while after but could soon look back and laugh at a really good lesson on my first OS adventure. I have now lived around asia for 10 years and so my radar is much finer tuned now. But you gave great advice how to avoid this scam.

    Reply

  • Kilim Lover said

    As someone who has travelled to and lived in Turkey for several years, I can definitely attest to the veracity of your stories. But there are at least two others which travelers should be aware of. One: Always, always, always ask in advance the price of anything you might be considering purchasing, whether clothes, trinkets, carpets, FOOD or DRINK, before you order or purchase it!!! Otherwise, you run the risk of being very shocked at the price. Two: Another scam here is real estate. Turkey is a beautiful and fascinating country. You might be tempted, as I was, to purchase a 'villa' here because it is so much more affordable than in the western world these days. Especially in the southwest. Because the coast lies on the Aegean and Mediterranean seas, the temptation is overwhelming. But be very, very careful. Even 'so-called' reputable builders can take you to the cleaners and they are very clever about it. They know how to use the system that we cannot understand. It took me almost three years to get the deed for my house and there was much, much aggro in even getting to that point. Many people here have had their houses and properties literally stolen out from under them by their builder 'friends' because the laws of escrow and purchase here are very different than in the west. And your 'friends' can suddenly turn very nasty when you approach them with your very real concerns. They believe your money should be theirs. Do your research. Ask around. Perhaps rent for awhile before purchasing. Just be careful. If ever the phrase 'buyer beware' was apt, it is when buying real estate in Turkey. The word 'friend' here can have a different meaning than what we in the west are used to.That said, many foreigners are living in Turkey and loving it once they have adjusted to its culture. Especially when they have found a builder who really is honest.

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  • Gutiio said

    After living in Istanbul for over two years, I've come to the conclusion that all Turks, unless they are your close friends, are there to only take something from you. Turkish people are also the most impatient and rude people I've ever come across. I actually despise them.

    Reply

  • roze said

    i nearly fell for a facebook scam

    my new lover of three month who i had booked a flight to go and visit
    asked me for 1000 to buy stock for his shop
    i declined and he blocked me on facebook and wont answer my calls
    he has a vintage shop in galata and is such a smooth operater watch out

    Reply

  • IRENE said

    I HAVE BEEN SCAMMED BY A FEMALE WHO SAID SHE WAS IRISH AND WORKED ON THE RIGS, 6'1" TALL, SHE BEFRIENDED ME ON A SITE, SHE IS VERY ATTRACTIVE, HER NAME OLIVIA ANDERSON, (ON FACEBOOK)SHE GAVE ME A STORY AND I FELL FOR IT AND I SENT HER £250 THROUGH WESTERN UNION, SHE SAID SHE HAD NO CARDS (LIES) HAVING MY DETAILS SHE SENT ME PAPERS FOR A CONSIGNMENT IN MY NAME, THE SHIPPING COMPANY TNS24 THE MANAGER , MR GOMZE KONTI PHONED ME AFTER A FEW DAY TO TRACK THE GOODS FROM TURKEY TO A UK PORT, THIS FEMALE WAS KEEPING IN CONTACT WITH ME ON FACEBOOK SHE STATED THAT SHE WAS A SUB CONTRACTOR ON SHIP FOR INSTALLING AND MAINTENANCE ON THE RIG, WE WOULD CHAT AT MIDNIGHT, ALL SHE WAS CONCERNED ABOUT WAS THE CONSIGNMENT, THEN I WAS REQUIRED TO PAY FOR THE WAREHOUSE AND INSURANCE PURPOSES £2500 WHICH I DID TO A PERSONAL ACCOUNT THROUGH WESTERN UNION AGAIN, THE ADDRESSES ARE ALL WRONG, HER FACEBOOK ACCOUNT IS AN EMPTY SHELL, I KNOW MY MONEY IS GONE, BUT HOW CAN WE SAVE OTHERS FROM THIS WOMAN, WHO IS CONNING AND CHEATING PEOPLE WITH HER GORGEOUS LOOKS HER EMAIL ADD IS [email protected] I WONDER IF ANYTHING CAN BE DONE, THANKS - IRENE

    Reply

  • Smilt said

    Irene I was scammed by the same one! Said she worked on an oil rig in the Indian Ocean. And also had a business selling Segway Scooters over seas. They operated under the fake shipping company TNS24.com and then they shut down that site and started a new one SPD27.com they are both fakes!! Mr Konti Gomze acted as the shipper. They want you to send the money to Esther Mirembe via Western Union. Olivia is a man and uses a voice scrambler when you talk on the phone to try to sound like a woman. Esther is his girlfriend. They operate out of Instanbul Turkey. Yes, all the addresses are wrong to everything! Also, if you receive letters from anyone like World Bank United Nations Scam Victim Compensation Program. Saying they will pay you money for being scammed and they want you to send them a fee first it is also a scam!!

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  • GWEN said

    Irene,I just read yours and another ladies comment about a certain woman that goes by the name of Olivia Anderson and email address is [email protected] met olivia on a date site in December of 2012 and we have been chatting since then. I believed her at first she sent me pictures of herself she is about 6 feet tall with blue eyes and brown hair and works on an oil rig in Istanbul, Turkey she is contracted out and yes she even told me about her personal bussiness she had on the side with scooters. She told me she is an only child and her father past way recently. I truly wish I would of found this site before I wired her money I wired her $500.00 she said she wanted to move to the United States and build a life with me I feel for it I should of know better. i think what finally put the red flg up for me is she kept pressing me to send the rest of the money she needed to get all her paper work processed so she can finally come to the states then recently she gave me another quote of $2000. she needed for BTA expenses before she could fly to the states. That drew a red flag up and recently I found our that there is no such thing as a BTA its all a scam. I feel like a fool..I am so sorry she took you for all that money I am sorry she took me for the amount she took me but i began to doubt them and I wondered about her because when you look at her picture her voice didnt match at all and it kinda sounded like a mans voice but I was not sure but now after reading the comments it was a man and knowing this makes me feel even worse..you are right something truly needs to ne done about this person I didnt chat with her on facebook we chatted on Yahoo messenger.I am sorry for your pain and falling for the lies she sold.
    Take Care
    Irene

    Reply

  • Pete said

    We got scammed in Turkey BIG TIME. In the Kusadasi Bazaar there is a shop called Benny's Shop or Benny's Leather who are COMPLETE scam artists. They will steal from you, take your credit card details or con you into buying a very sub-par product for obscene amounts of money. They will not refund your money under any circumstances even though their products are awful. PLEASE don't fall for their snake tongued promises like we did. We are experienced travelers and we have never been scammed before. Trust me if it can happen to us it can happen to anyone, DO NOT EVEN GIVE THEM THE TIME OF DAY. Remember: Benny's Shop in Kusadashi.

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  • Peter Shaw said

    My Girlfriend and I were recently scammed in Turkey and lost close to $1000. I loved Turkey but this really was uncool and stuffed up our plans somewhat.. however after about 2 weeks we managed to get out money back!! I actually write a travel blog and have written two specific posts on scams in Turkey and more specifically how we got scammed and them got our cash back, so hopefully someone else out there will find them useful and I can help another victim of being scammed. Here they are.
    Post 1: http://nomadicalsabbatical.com/scams-in-turkey-popular-turkish-scams/
    Post 2: http://nomadicalsabbatical.com/scams-in-turkey-how-to-get-your-money-back/

    Reply

  • tom southgate said

    i live in turkey and you just gotta know the right people sales people are all over you wanting you to buy there stock a very money making country but if you go to quieter areas they are such nice peaceful welcoming people i went to a small village in south turkey about 5 years ago i had been walking for some time in the peak of summer and i had left my wallet at home typically. as i approached the village there was a big family sat in the garden staring at me as i was walking i only just managed to pass his property and he called me over. and said you need water and food come and sit down. he introduced me to his family and momentarely the whole family started to prepare food inside and outside. they was also cooking in an outdoor oven which is very lovely. Turkish tea which is my favorite was there on demand fruit fresh from there orchard like bit of land full of fig trees, pomegranate,lime, orange.it was absolute paradise. 5 years on i am still friends with the family and visit them whenever i have time off. not all of them are bad and tbf i have loads of turkish mates they all look after me and never stolen off me they treat me like there own family most of them just dont piss them off, i hope this was helpful

    Reply

  • Frank said

    I was scammed in Turkey as well. I am an experienced traveler and actually went to turkey many times for many years. I speak turkish, understand a lot of their scams and still... I bought some nice art object. As all sales, I concluded it was probably fake, and so I started to bargain for the price. They asked for 100€ so in my mind I think, "ok, don't pay more then 10". I negotiated it down to 5 on the condition I bought something else, and ended up with two souvenirs for 10€. I felt rather pleased with myself. I left the next morning for the airport. My luggage was searched (first time ever), they took the souvenirs out and claimed I was an art smuggler and these were very precious historical artifacts. I would be arrested unless I paid a 1000€ fine. I didn't pay the fine, and asked for police. I was indeed arrested. I never saw the souvenirs again and in fact I think they were replaced or something. I had no proof, had no interpreter, no lawyer. I was questions for about 10 hours. Luckily I was not put into prisson, but many trials later I am now faced with conviction of 7years on probation, a 5000€ fine. My lawyer noted "you should have paid the 1000€"...
    Ps: i was convicties bases on a law of 2010 that claims that anything onder then 75 year sols is considered Antique and turkish herritage. It can be sold and bought, but it can not be exported. Try to prove that something is fake or younger then 75years when you dont have the object, or even a photograph of the thing...

    Reply

  • Therese said

    I was scamed by one Turkish boy ,his name is Tunay Sahin,his nickname Romeo Valentino,he live in Ankara and in summer work in Alanya.I knew him in Alanya,i was there in holiday with my friends.He was really nice and i thought he can be my soul mate.But in a short time he started to ask me money.After Alanya i was in Istanbul and after in Ankara.Everytime i was that who payed everything,hotels,all!Everytime he said he don't have money because he don't work.He asked money to pay the army,he asked money because he not have to pay the bank,for his sister sick,for grandmother sick,for his friend who have problems.Also he asked me to buy different things,like whiskeys,ciggarets,phones,perfumes,clothes.All this time he said he love me and i am the only women in his life and always he talked about our future.When i didn't had money he blocked me on facebook and on phone and told me he always had girlfriends and i wasn't the only stupid girl that he used and he is like this.

    Reply

  • Renato said

    They tried to scam me today. I was walking near to the Sultan Ahmet Parki and a guy approached me and asked where am i from. When i said: "Brazil", he made a lot of compliments about my country and said his brother works in Brazil (bullshit). He conviced me to visit his store and since i entered there his "brother" gave me a cup of tea even though i didnt ask for it. He showed a lot of carpets and wrote down the price: € 1200.
    I said that i couldnt afford that but he insisted: "Tell me how much you can pay!". I declined. He tried to show me a little pray carpet for € 70. When i declined again he got angry, threw the carpet away and made a gesture for me to get out of the store.
    I'm going now to record a video i ll try to get him, i ll post here.

    Reply

  • Brendan said

    The same scam is done in Shanghai but two cute young female students will invite you back to a Tea House. They usually claim to be students and want to practice english.

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  • Matt said

    I was just scammed in Turkey ! I was driving down the west coast with my wife and daughter in a British car when a car pulled alongside and was frantically pointing at my rear wheel. I pulled over as did he. He then told me my wheel was wobbling but praise Ala he was a mechanic and could repair it. We were very grateful. He dismantled the entire wheel and removed a large part, a strut I think, and then said he would drive to a town and search for a new part. He arrived back an hour later with it. He put it back together. My wife and I were saying we should give him 200lr for his troubles. Once he'd finished he charged us 900lr for his time ! My wife had fortunately separated our cash in her purse and showed him we only had 550lr (half our trip money. He wanted us to go to an ATM but I said we had no cards. He left, rather disgruntled. At this point we thought what a cheek, helping us out so nicely and then charging us so much. 20 mins later driving down the road I thought to myself WTF just happened ? I said to my wife, 'I think we've just been scammed'. Absolutely nothing added up (I've missed out all the small details). Anyway, what had actually happened was that there was indeed nothing wrong with the car and the part he 'replaced' was my original part which he'd taken away and painted and then refitted ! Plus he broke the hand break in the process. I hope he suffers with his karma. As for me I feel so stupid, so gullible. It spoiled our 10 day trip and we won't be going there again.
    During the same trip a young female friend took a taxi near Bodrum and was wise enough not to accept an opened bottle of coke from the driver who then proceeded to try it on. She's a smart girl and knew what was happening. The drink was more than likely drugged and she'd have woken up with a headache. NEVER TAKE AN OPENED DRINK FROM A STRANGER. NEVER ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE FLAGGED DOWN ON THE ROAD.

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  • Ysar said

    Hello there , before I went to Istanbul I hade searched out about possible scenario of scams and violence (just to take care because im alone) , I found the "Hello my friend…" scenario and that was almost happen to me .. 2 guys stopped me while I was using my iphone for mapping and rout , when he asked me about a restaurant then I tried to find out it for him, a second guy came abd they start to talk with me , im Arabian and they asked me if I was arab I said yes then they start talk in arabic not 100 % accent.
    After I shiw him his lost address he said where are you going ? Come with us drink ? I told him no sorry im waiting my frinds and I dont drink..(I was forgetting that I read before about that scenario of scam and I was not waiting anybody I was alone)..after that they left and I went go a store to buy cigarette then I remembered that scenario I said OMG! Those mothafaka were scammers!!
    And yes after I exit from the store I found them again in same place talking sith another guy looks European , I was very upset and angry and start to make talk fight with them..then I tell the stranger dont belive them they are scammers then after that another guy came from nowhere starting to threat me and now they are 3 and im alone , I kept standing and argue with them and one of the tried to pull my messenger bag up to start a fight with then I told him drop your hand and I start shouting on thim and they were preparing for fighting then they said go go I said I sill not go then I found out I didnt get help from peoples there, then I wecnt away.. all that day they facked up my mood ! I wish I will not meet like those thieves again..
    I loved turkey and I hope it clean up those rubbish criminals bcause I heared that police will do nothing about scam things !! Thanx and be aware

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  • Sean said

    I've come across with many frauds in Turkey, being gullible will cost you a fortune in here, so don't show off your wealth, otherwise you will be targeted. People here scam each other on a daily basis, and scammers think you have the 'obligation' to share your wealth with others. Turks aren't sharing people either, they only take without showing reciprocity. Oh, they promise randomly, when I say randomly, I mean they don't see the promise as a verbal contract, it's really casual. And turks are not punctual either.

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  • Jo said

    Hi all, I'm a first time overseas traveller and will be going to Turkey later this month. Reading all your comments is making me very nervous!

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  • suzan said

    I read your comments. Being turkish myself I have to tell you that most people working in these tourist areas are kurds and not turks. They are specialized in fraud and scam especially with women. In istanbul around sultanahmet area 95% of the sellers and shopowners are kurds and not turks.

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  • S. Smith said

    I was scammed in Turkey at a bazaar nearest to the cruise ship in Kusadasi. They are Ruzgar & Ilkyaz and they sell Pashmina scarves. The shop is located on the left and is a very small skinny shop. A man and woman were working there. They offered me tea and had me trying on scarves. I agreed to pay $60 US currency for a beautiful pashmina scarf. I noticed that they charged my credit card twice quickly. I assumed that the first charge didn't go through. What they actually did was charge me $60 and then $600. They sent a fake receipt to the credit card company after I disputed the charge. I don't know how these people can sleep at night. DONT pay for anything in this country with a credit card!!!!!!! Use cash ONLY. I will also be contacting the cruise ship companies and the Turkish Tourist Authorities. I am currently in dispute with the credit card company over this criminal act.

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  • Donald said

    A variation on the Turkish carpet/rug scam
    Your cruise ship docks in Turkey, you take an excursion which includes a visit to a cruise-shop-approved rug shop. The coach load of tourists gets a rug making demonstration, sits down with coffee, dozens and dozens of rugs are unrolled, you buy one.
    Months or maybe two or three years later you get an out-of-the-blue phone call..do you remember me from (name of the carpet store)
    A drawn out patter follows.
    He has your full name, exact address, and knows exactly what you bought while you were on that cruise.
    Caller has brought a number of high value silk rugs from Turkey into th UK (or, presumably, USA or whichever country you live in). His hoped for deal has fallen through. (The two variants I have had are he did not manage to sell all the rugs at an exhibition, and the original buyer suddenly decamped back to China without taking delivery and without paying.).
    Whatever the alleged reason, the caller now has several (five seems to be a common number) high value silk rugs on his hands which Turkish laws forbid his taking them back into Turkey. So he is looking for someone to but these at a very heavily discounted price ... Maybe if you will agree to buy two he will throw in the other three for free.. , He has to return to Turkey that evening / the next day, but if you will let him pop round to your house in two or three hours time and show you the rugs..
    He comes.
    No, unfortunately Turkish laws do not allow him to take a cheque back to Turkey. He would love to take a credit/debit card payment, but unfortunately he didn't bring his card machine so the only possible payment method is cash...he will follow you in his hired car to your bank.
    He comes.
    Rugs are absolutely gorgeous. Feel is of silk, the high density knot count fits a silk rug, thread length fits silk, it retains heat after a hard hand rub which suggests silk. Of course you can't use any of the destructive tests like cutting off a snippet of fringe and burning it..
    Offer to sell falls to something like ten to fifteen percent of the alleged full market value of the entire batch high value silk rugs.
    One if the rugs is big.. Say, 2.5 by 4 metres. He explains it took three years to make (by hand) and there are only 19 others like it in the entire world.
    You notice that none of the rugs carries any authentication marks. The very friendly chap explains these consist of computer - printed paperwork but unfortunately he hasn't brought his laptop or printer with him and he does not have the access codes which would let him use yours. So if you buy, the paperwork will be mailed to you from his head office, meanwhile his mate will write out a receipt.

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  • Sherri Us said

    I get a kick out of the person ...trying to blame Kurds for poor Turkish male behaviors....I was married to one and spent 25 years in that community. .....lieing .coning and cheating are just some of the horrible behaviors ...they would manipulate thier own mothers out of $5 dollars ...everything people are saying here..100 percent true!!

    Reply

  • Gay Man Istanbul said

    I have had a really bad experience in Instanbul. Beware Gay visitors. Read my report here -

    http://gaymaninistanbul.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/sams-for-gay-visitors-in-istanbul.html

    Reply

  • Sophia said

    All of the comments i read are all true,im married to a turkish man who is rude and very abussive to me physical and emotional.

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  • Marwa said

    Wow! What a shock. I didn't imagine Turkey like this. I booked a trip (organized) and right now my excitement to visit the country is down. My brother who went there for business trips (Ankara) told me people were nice. I imagine he didn't interact much with locals and he had friends from our home country with him.

    I think I will buy $0 from there now. Too bad because I wanted nice silky scarves. It is a shame though for such a beautiful country with enough resources. I guess the poverty of the heart is worst than the one of the pocket. I am originally from a poorer country and I know nothing anywhere close to this happens there.

    Could it be though some of you showed yourself wealthy? I would think maybe euro looking are thought to be rich but then I know many Turks look white too. Maybe being of a darker skin will protect me haha.

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  • Jack said

    Hi Marwa,

    I guess, nothng to feel down for your already settled vacation to Turkey.
    I had been there long time in several cities, also in every town of Istanbul. People are peaceful and wellcome usually, there is no risk to be scammed if you consider ;
    - Do not use credit card for shopping from small shops particularly designated to sell souvenirs to tourists. Bring enough amount of USD/EUR cash to convert Turkish lira at airport before entering in/or withdraw cash at ATM .
    - Never be answering to any stranger outside once comes nearby you to ask for help. This is not your friend/relative, who intends to help/spend time for someone foreigner for free?
    - Do the shopping from big markets, if come into souvenir shops at least bargain for price and pay in cash.
    - Have your drink at hotel or search for trustable-reasonable restaurants to have supper where would be near hotel. Snacks are also quite good, may have kebab or similar foods anywhere there.

    These are not special to Turkey indeed, I`ve been in U.S, UK, China, HongKong, UAE and several other countries faced with the similar troubles/scam intentions, but followed above to keep these away. Uf you dare to deal with any stranger outside who comes to give you a ``so called`` help, scam is invetiable in anywhere.

    Reply

  • Yoway Buorn said

    A friend and I fell for the bar scam over 8 years ago. I'm now back in Istanbul with my wife and it absolutely blows my mind these scams are still in effect!

    I really want to love this country and a few of the comments here certainly help, but a couple other comments also point out that scamming and the accompanying ideology (e.g. The "obligation") are almost full blown subcultures in their own right.

    To illustrate, we sat down for tea near Hagia Sofia. Across the street, a man was seated at a hotel cafe. He overhears us speaking English, so he approaches and proceeds to run through his bag of rapport-building tricks. All the while, he is also conversing casually with the legitimate tea shop owner and his friends. I let him talk all the while turning down anything sketchy.

    All in all it was a perfectly entertaining and enjoyable conversation, but for the uninformed it could have easily resulted in one of these embarrassing or horrifying stories.

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  • Marcus h said

    Similar things happened to me.i was near the Blue Mosque and a man came up to me and seemed nice. Asked me where I was from and complimented my hat. He offerred to show me the sights, "Turkish customer, we are friendly people""you look educated man" compliment compliment compliment. "you dont pay"

    Then I said I was ok and I am just looking around myself. He then said "come see.my brothers souvenier shop and have tea.

    For some reason I went and he took me to a very quiet street around the corner. Turned out it was a rug shop and sat me down and another man, his so called brother which I am sure was just one of many shop keepers he has a deal with, came and closed the door so I was locked in. He said it was due to air conditioning. They asked me loads of questions about myself so I just went to the point." whats the deal here? Im not a rich man, how much are the rugs?" they looked offended but then said that they can do some rugs for 800 to 1000 pounds including shipping. Long story short I made a point that I had no money for thay. The original man was now quiet

    I ended up leaving with a pillow cas for fifty pounds. I know I paid over the odds but was actually getting away with it lightly. They were a mix of friendliness and mafia style pressure. I think in the end they realised I wasnt spending much and they told me "I like you, make sure you dont go with any strangers to a bar or they will make you pay more than you should"

    I went to the hostel and read about the scam

    The next day a man approaches me and offerred me to a drink in a bar. I said im ok and that I was meeting a Friend. So in a way the rug scammers helped me as I probably would have gone to the bar!!

    Turkey was fun and there are many nice people there. Just be aware and stick to the places locals goto. There are plenty of great bars.
    And the pillow case is actually good quality and not a chinese rip off.

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  • Lisa said

    Hie I would like to visit Turkey for businessz,do they have agents to show you around? ?because am looking for good quality of everything..

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  • William said

    Lmfao! Marcus, I think I ran in to your carpet seller yesterday. I paid him 50 for a pillow case too. I'm in my hostel right now writing this with a big smile on my face. You're right, it's good that we got rolled early as I like a drink and would probably be in a much worse position right now. Hahaha. Gg

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  • Alex McMillan said

    Also keep in mind Turkish police is also part of the mafia. Police and courts are corrupt and collaborate with scammers. Never trust them. In Turkey, you are alone. Turkish police does not speak a foreign language, you will need to find and hire a translator paying him thousands of Lira. Anything can happen to you. It is much smarter and better to go to a more civilized country than Turkey where they don't even know how to use a toilet properly.

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  • Roger Bilderman said

    I was in turkey. I rented a car and in the traffic a minibus came and hit me from behind. He demanded that I pay him immediately $500 or else he would beat me. I wanted to call police. They stabbed me in the back with a screwdriver so there was no puncture wound but it has been hurting ever since. Turks were about to break my neck. I went to hospital and hospitals in Turkey are so bad, I spent days being transferred from one department to another with no results. In the end I could not receive any compensation or treatment.

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  • J said

    Sanlier travel agency is a scam! They put a table outside the IST custom and claimed to be affiliated with Turkish Airline. They asked my friend to put down a deposit ($1500 USD) for a free tour and said it will be refunded after the tour. Of course, it is a scam! The deposit was never returned. Please be careful and don't fall for it!

    They will give a fake receipt which says Sanlier Travel Agency. Email shows [email protected] and Gsm: +905418140026

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  • Afiya Clarke said

    Shit. I really thought that it would be the case of bam! I'm off to Turkey. I'll stay here for a couple months, but this country seems more worse than Mexico. I am a black girl so I wanted some peace and quiet somewhere abroad, that won't get me death threats. So far, based on what I've read online, the odds are nil. I know I wouldn't fall to the tricks of Turks since I'm not the friendliest creature out there and would probably land them a karate kick in the ass for approaching me in the first place. Is there actually a place I can be without being ripped off via real estate/ killed?

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  • Sufyan said

    I wish what happened with me never happens with anyone, I went to Istanbul with my family everything was going just fine until my last day, I left my family at the hotel and visited spice bazaar for shopping, not to mention small taxi scams in rates... I went to a sweet shop and ordered 2 half KGs bakhlawa for friends total cost 80TL I gave him 100 note he said it is fake suddenly another guy came and stood next to me I took that 100 back and gave him another he said it is also fake the guy standing next to me took that 100 and spoke in turkish language with the shopkeeper then they asked another one standing outside and called police and started beating me and took 600 TL from my wallet 4 notes of 100 TL and one note of 200TL, the guy standing next to me went outside with all my money the others started claiming me 500-1000 TL to let me go I said no let the Police come the guy who took my money came back inside the sweet shop and put all 600 TL in my wallet they kept me in the shop until police arrived then police checked the notes and took me with them to the police station asking me where did I get this money I kept saying from ATM they wanted to arrest me for that 400 (4*100) TL they kep asking me question on google translation and I kept answering them, then they said I will be arrested for 4 years for this fraud, They called my hotel to confirm from them that my family is there and I am visting them then one Police officer went inside with all 600 came back and ask me to tear 400 (4*100) TL and throw them away and never to be seen anywhere near Spice Bazaar returned me my 200 TL note as I had no extra money, Thank God I came back safely to my family. Question is who changed the money as police was sure the ATM cannot give fake cash?

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  • Mel said

    Great! Thank you all for sharing your stories, now I’m about to try to cancel my holiday. I dont feel very safe after reading all these.

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  • Tony James said

    Hello all,
    Here is my story.
    I met someone in Antalya. Looked like we like each other a lot and I went 2nd time. The man was welcomed everywhere we went, his cousin was a hotel owner, another has a restaurant... all people I met including the man in question seem to be normal and decent. The man I was with told me he made huge payment for tax purposes on his company and was falling short $2000. He didn’t ask me for money but all was so real that I offered to help. He said in 2 days he will get another transfer from his business and will return the money. Now, 4 months later, he has still not. He is giving me story after story and when I pressed he stopped communicating. If anyone knows, what would happened if I go to the police or jandarma? I probably won’t get my money back, but would it be anything to sour his arrogance?

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  • Cathy said

    Hello All,
    I sympathize with many here.I have been to Turkey often because of the history and the art but sadly I have been preyed upon on my last holiday in Side(Antalya) and must still make a police report.I was threatened with beatings by the hotel owner of Deutschlaender Otel ( a small hotel in Side) because I had made a written complaint on poor hygiene to the travel agency in Berlin where I had booked the package holiday.2 Turkish men who happened to hear the owners threat to beat me to a pulp had the courage to rush forward and protect me like bodyguards.THey guarded my room while I packed my suitcase and walked me with my suitcase to the street where there were vidocameras.Everyone knew the hotel owner would not beat me in view of the videos documenting the crime.I left Sie and am now in Ankara recovering from the shock and planning to file a police report at the main police station of Side provine,Antalya,where tourist Euros are a mainstay of the economy.In my experience many honest Turkish people are just as scared of these crooks as we are-the only way to succeed is to put ant pressure you can on local authorities and equally important is to lobby foreign governments to put pressure on Turkey for more protection of tourists.The honest Turks are just as intimidated as the tourists by a bully government.Speak up, make written complaints, ask your own government to take action.Catherine

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  • jack said

    I visited Turkey with my family and as long as we were a family and with our groups, 2 other families, the scams were deflected by our numbers. But even then someone tried to pick my wife's bag. They have no honor. We had visited Greece, Italy, Iran, Egypt, Spain, Argentina, Brazil (where we were mugged at gun point but felt less threatened) and other places and never had as much issues with fraud as in Turkey. Lots of issues with the hotels, transportation, everything- the only good part was the all inclusive we stayed. Even then it was questionable.
    But the scam we fell for was that my wife told me to get some sweats as souvenirs. I went down to go to the market and there was a younger boy, say about 12-14 with a platter giving out small samples of sweats. I ate one and it was relatively good so asked him where his store was. He pointed it to me and there was another younger boy that volunteered to help guide me. I entered the store and it was more like a small bar with a serving bar, alcohol and 4 women who were skimpishly dressed, lots of smoke. The boy told the guy that I wanted some sweats. He brought out a tray with multiple sweats and asked me to start sampling them. Should have asked how much before I tasted it- but I did taste 4 or 5 and selected a few boxes. I asked how much and he told me $4,000. I laughed and said thank you but no thank you. Then they said well the ones I tasted cost $2,000. I told them that is was ridiculous. There were 4 of them and the women. The slim taller guy and a shorter one blocked the door and said I must pay or they would throw me in jail. There was on guy behind the bar- somewhat over weight with a big mustache and the 4th one was cleaning the floors. I told them I am not paying- the slim guy grabbed my shirt and tried to shake me. I told him hand and broke his finger- knew a little self defense from my youth. The shorter guy swung at me and managed to hit my shoulder- I hit him back in the face and he started to gush blood- think broke his nose. The 4th guy was trying to get from behind the bar with a bat, but I managed to get out of the store. He did come out of the store after me, but there were too many people in the street. It seemed like the neighbors were a little surprised and were also in on the scam. The guy with a bleeding nose came out also, but by that time I was many steps ahead of them and moved on.
    Last time we are going to turkey and last time we are buying turkish products. Really lucked out no one had a knife or gun.

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  • Elly said

    Iv'e got scammed 3 times in 1,5 weeks during my
    Holiday, and that while being a turk myself.(born in western europe though).
    It started in a restaurant in Alacati Cesme, they presented a much higher bill. I didnt want any discussions so ive paid. The second time was on the beach in Kusadasi, the waiter didnt gave me the correct change (it waa just a couple of liras) but still, the turkish mentality is one of taking as much as possible advantge of you as a visitor. Third scam was the Avis rental company in Kusadasi, they gave me a car with a 3/4 full tank, insisting its full and i should return it back with a full depot. Again a scam. Im so dissappointed.. the country is so beautiful but the people living here make it hard to truely feel save and enjoy a holiday. With no disrespect, my holiday in Greece was much more pleasant, no scams, no cheap mentality and much more friendly staff and servers who are more about qualtiy and not that interested in the amount of money in your wallet. Unfortunately Im not planning on coming back to Turkey any soon.
    Btw. When renting a car in turkey, please be very careful in traffic since no turk obeys basic traffic laws, they dont use signals, they brake abruptly and honk all the time. Drive very defensive! Or just go to a more civilized country which is more developed. (Such as Spain, Italy, Greece or Cyprus)

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  • Ömer Faruk said

    As a young Turkish boy I am really sorry to hear about these unfortunate experiences. The funny part is even the local Turks are getting scamed in similar scenerios. Since the complaints about these tourist scam rise and rise around both local and foreigner tourists government has finally begun to take action. Please ask the price before you buy anything and if you think you are getting scamed please dont afraid to go to police. Even the ones that doesnt speak English very good will try to help.

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