The Dangers of Airports
Scams are rife at the airport - and some of them are pepetrated by uniformed officials,
Once you have cleared customs and immigration you need to be at your most alert as you are about to enter an environment of confusion and chaos that is crowded and foreign.
Portray confidence, look like you have done this a thousand times and stay on your guard for the following:
Scam 1 - Discounts
These scams generally occur near the baggage claim and involve someone approaching you and offering discounts on hotels or transport. They may look official... but they aren't and the discounts are anything but. Avoid them and stick with your original plan.
Scam 2 - Taxi fraud
Seemingly licensed taxis often aren't and you will end up with a highly inflated fare or worse, you may find yourself in a robbery or kidnapping incident Your prior research has already revealed whick taxis are approved, so once again, stick to your original plan.
Even the official and licensed drivers may try to take you to another destination in an effort to gain commision from a different hotel, or he may try to inflate your fare by:
- Exaggerating tolls or airport taxi rank fees
- Not re-setting the meter
- Not taking you by the most direct route
- Make sure you determine the fare before the trip and he knows that you know where you are going.
- Get out your map and GPS. Even if you are still lost it will appear that you aren't
- Don't exit the car at your destination until he does so your baggage doesn't speed off!
Scam 3 - The Overly Friendly
Scam artists now that you are probably tired, disoriented and needing a bit of friendly advice. before you know it, your new friend who has helped you with your bags or called a taxi will be asking you for a cash handout. If you have done your research on the airport you should already know where you are going - or find an information booth.
They may even be wearing official looking uniforms... but they aren't officials at all. they will appear authoratative in an effort to gain your trust
Scam 4 - The Thief
In a crowded environment, the pickpocket can easily brush up against you and relieve you of your money and passport - which is not a great start to your trip. It's known as the bump and the dexterity they possess to rid you of your valuables is astounding.
Secure your valuables and maintain your situational awareness.
Thieves also scout out bathrooms to find bags that have been placed on the ground inside a cubicle and will pull them under the door and be off well before you have time to raise the alarm. Keep the bags as close to you as possible.
If you suspect anything has gone missing, check your goods before you leave the airport and file a report with the airport police.
Scam 5 - Currency Exchange
An "official" may insist that you follow him to conduct currency exchange at a "very good rate".
At best you will receive a currency exchange that is the same as is offered by your hotel or a bank and at worst you are being entrapped into conducting an illegal currency exchange and may find yourself incarcerated on Day 1 of your trip.
Scams by Officials
Unfortunately, in some countries, bribery and corruption is rife aongst aorport officials.
You may have something planted on your person or luggage or informed that you are wanted for a trumped up crime. In this situation your best course of action is to pay the bribe or fine as failure to do so may see you become mired in the often slow and ponderous (and dangerous) legal system of that country.
If you are only traveling with a small amount of cash as recommended then the amount you are able to pay will be limited. If you are forced to pay a significant amount, take good note of the individuals appearance and report it as soon as possible to your embassy / consulate.