Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey with more than 14.1 million inhabitants. Due to its breath-taking cityscape, largest covered markets and impressive Ottoman architecture, it’s no wonder why the city attracts visitors from all corners of the world. In fact, in 2011, the number of tourists in Turkey reached a world-breaking record of 8 million-mark. Despite the city’s major attractions, many are discouraged with Istanbul’s widespread maleficent scams which in turn scare and deter travelers from going there.
There is 90% chance you get scammed with taxi drivers when visiting Istanbul, says a former Istanbul tourist.
Main areas to watch out for scam taxis
Istanbul flimflams occur in major tourists spots and crowded places particularly in Taksim Square, Sultanhamet Square, Cumhurriyet Caddesi and Istiklal Caddesi. Less scams happen in residential areas.
Target victims are people traveling alone or in small groups. So one simple suggestion: Do not accept invitations in any form from touts who offer taxi service.
Common scam tactics
In addition to taxi scams, the following are common fraud scenarios tourists may encounter.
1. A well-dressed man approaches you and tries to start a conversation. He may begin with asking a lighter or a cigarette. He will then invite you to come in his bars and price you with drinks at very hefty costs. Main target of this scam is white men.
To avoid becoming a victim, decline the invitation right from the start.
2. A person passes on you and drops his shoe shine brush on your shoes hoping that you will pick up the brush and hand it over to him. As a token of ?gratitude?, the man will offer a shoe shine service thinking it?s free but afterwards, you will surprised how much he will charge you!
To avoid this, never pick up a brush fell on your shoes.
3. If you are wandering and seem to be looking for a place, a guy will approach you who can speak in different languages. Of course, he will give/offer you help and promise to take you to the destination. On your way, the man will invite you to his home as he excused he forgot something. In his home, he will offer tea and start to advertise the shop he is working for.
To avoid this, take the initiative in asking directions.
4. Taxi scams. This is the most popular fraudulent activity that tourists encounter when traveling in Istanbul. The main scenario is overcharging the tourist for the ride.