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Hazel Mwaka Mwazonga
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Toured South Africa in November 2018 for 2 weeks

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Africa > South Africa > Useful Info
Submitted on Jan 06, 2019 Useful Info

Types of scam in South Africa

South Africa is such an interesting country to visit. However, just like many other destinations, tourists are exposed to scams and cons. If you visit South Africa, here are a few scams that you can be exposed to and some tips on preventing yourself from being a victim.

Fake taxi and airport operators.

  • When you arrive at an airport such as Cape Town international airport or OR Tambo International airport, you might be exposed to fake taxi operators or even airport operators.
  • These taxi operators offer to take you to your destination at a very cheap price that is hard to resist and then rob you.
  • To prevent being a victim, ensure that you book a taxi from an official site such as uber or if you get a taxi from the airport ensure to get one from the official queue.

Beach scams.

User submitted photo of South Africa

  • These are quite normal, especially in cape town.
  • When at the beach, you might leave your items as you go swimming.
  • At this point, thieves come and grab the items and steal them.
  • When at the beach and you have valuables, it is better to take turns while swimming or to leave your valuables totally at the hotel where you are staying.

Pick-pocketing.

  • Just like many developing countries, pick-pocketing is a common scam that you might face.
  • When walking in public areas more so crowded ones, the thieves lift your valuables from you. Some of these thieves might actually be in gangs that you cannot protect yourself from them.
  • It is advisable that you do not carry valuables with you. When going shopping, ensure to use your credit card and have only a little cash on you.
  • Carry a copy of your passport but not the original one.

Fake police.

  • Some people may pose as fake police and force you to relinquish some of your valuables to them.
  • Ensure that when stopped by the police that you ask for their credentials. Do not be rude while asking but be stern.
  • South Africa police put on a light blue shirt and dark blue pants.
  • Police usually walk in pairs and when treating you they usually are polite and do not harass tourists.
  • When having an encounter with the police, be vigilant to listen to their tone and when you are sure that they are scams, do not be afraid to ask for help.

Tourist prices.

  • Often prices that tourists are told are usually hiked so that the local traders can get extra cash from you.
  • Ensure you do adequate research about good products before you leave for shopping.
  • In case a person mentions a high price. it is common to bargain so that you can get a much fairer price.

Fake sob story scam.

  • Another common type of scam is the fake sob story type where the con-artists approach you with a fake story about their adversaries.
  • At times these stories can be quite convincing and you will give away your cash.
  • Just ensure that you do not give cash aimlessly as this would put pressure on other tourists visiting the country.

Transport theft.

  • Sometimes when trying to get around you may opt to use the local transport systems.
  • In case you use the local transport systems such as buses and trains, ensure that you secure your valuables and use reinforced luggage and invest in locks as most pens can go through bag zippers.

Fake tour guides.

  • In areas such as the table mountains in cape town, fake tour guides may offer to take you around the place at incredibly low prices.
  • These tour guides might actually be thieves who can rob you at gunpoint.
  • Ensure to book tour guides from authentic agencies and in case you do not need a tour guide, make sure you travel in groups to prevent muggings and theft.

Money hogs.

  • In some of the restaurants and eateries, the cashier can pretend to drop the cash and then switch the cash.
  • They will claim that the cash you gave is little and that you have underpaid and ask you to top up.
  • In case you purchase something, double check to ensure it is enough and so that those around you can see that it is enough.

When all, is said and done, your safety starts with you and you are to be responsible. However, you should enjoy South Africa as it has a lot to offer.