Tricks and scams in Istanbul
Like all major cities in the world, Istanbul has its quote of scams and people who try to rip tourist off. From the most common taxi driver who drives you through the longest possible way to reach your destiny to some more elaborate ones, I’ll go through them so you make sure you don’t get caught in any of them.
Because you don’t know your way it’s really easy for them to just take you through the longest way without realizing it. As a plus it’s really unusual to find a driver that knows English so there’s not much you can do to prevent this. Either you take public transports or ask someone, beforehand what’s the best way to get to your destination and try to explain to the driver.
This is probably one of the most dangerous scams in Istanbul and the one where most people fall in. the approach may differ but the aim is always the same: to get your money.
In the touristic areas like Sultanahmet you will have men (I would say 99% of times men) offering their services as guides and also to skip the cues. In Turkey, only licensed people can be guides and if they don’t have that license (a card which they always have to show), what they are doing it’s illegal. Also, there’s no way they can help you skip cues like the Blue Mosque, as there are no tickets.
In other areas like Karakoy or Taksim you will have friendly people (some even pretend they are foreigners) who will invite you for a drink in a place they know. You can see where this is going right? You will end up paying 10 times the price or more and they’ll make sure you won’t leave without paying. This one targets usually people who are alone, especially men.
Conclusion: As much as it pains me to say this, never trust people who approach you on the streets and invite you or sell you stuff. They can tell you are a tourist by miles.
Nevertheless, Turks are really nice and if a friend of yours introduces you to a Turk or if you get invited to some mutual friend’s house don’t say no, they are very welcoming people J
I’d never seen this one anywhere else and I almost fell into their traps once (before knowing this was actually a scam!). I just didn’t because I’d been living here long enough to know how it works.
So, it’s very simple: A men will drop his shoe brush right in front of you. When you pick it up because you think he dropped it by accident they will be really thankful, saying they will brush your shoes for free. Even if you say no they will insist so many times, that you will think they really want to thank you. If you accept, by the end they will charge you some money anyway.
Solution: just smile, say no and walk away.