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How to avoid a scam in Turkey

5th August 2014

The vast majority of readers of this blog will likely have good experiences of Turkey. Turkey is a beautiful country, very safe and the people are welcoming and friendly, however as in any country around the world there are some untrustworthy people.
Here are some tips about how to avoid a scam in Turkey:-

Buying property

While holidaying in Turkey you will undoubtedly become captivated by the beautiful scenery, so much so that you may even consider buying a holiday home. The prices for holiday villas in Turkey are very attractive.

Be wise

Scam- ‘my uncle, brother, dad, friend 'Mehmet'… is a builder, he can build you a villa for £50,000’.

The price offered will sound like a very good deal, maybe even a genuine offer. You must be very wary of such offers, £50,000 will run up to £100,000 + and if you do actually have a villa built it will most likely be sub standard, cut corners and with no title deed.

Rememberif something sounds too good to be true, it most probably is

Do your research on the developer; get recommendations from others who have brought properties. Ask around, what is their reputation?

Pay stage by stage, regular visits to check the progess.

Is their any debt on the land or property? – get a good lawyer.

Notarized contracts are essential

Go to the land registrar and find out if the plot has the correct permissions for building?

Does your home have the correct living permissions? Water?

Bills – make sure the builder has left no outstanding water or electric bills.

If you are planning on moving to Turkey it is always a good idea to consider renting for a while before purchasing, this way you give yourself more time to do your research on the area.

See detailed information about;- Buying property in Turkey

Friends – Genuine or scam?

The majority of Turkish people, tend to be very hospitable, good humored, very generous and genuine. They are excepting of other cultures and welcome different nationalities. As a traveler or expat most people’s experiences are good ones.

However, as in any country there a few which can spoil it for everyone else. They will take advantage of any situation and exploit for their own selfish gain. Some of them are geared for only one thing - to make an even better friend with your wallet.

Look out for these warning signs

The friendship feels significantly unbalanced.

Is there a financial gain on their part in this friendship? – if your newly found ‘friend’ starts to ask for money, sick relative, new mobile phone, loan etc then be very wary.

Watch out for the opportunist. This is a person who likes to use you because you have certain assets such as a car, your own home, have lots of money or a holiday property.

But if you confront them, they become angry. They disrespect you and your belongings.

Your ‘friend’ may start to get nasty if you do not buy goods from his shop, his friend, his family etc.

Steer clear of the victim, who exudes "poor me"

This person always comes to you when having problems, especially financial problems.

If you notice this then be wary of those who want to be your friend.

Detach yourself from the clingy friend. This type of person does not want to share you with other people. When they do see you with other people, they are jealous because they want you all to themselves. They will constantly call you day or night.

Lack of Eye Contact

It says something about a person when they can’t look you in the eye.

The currency conversion scam

You negotiate for an item in Turkish Lira, The shopkeeper is over friendly offering tea, coffee Turkish delight, he eventually gains your trust. However when you pay for your item unbeknownst to you when you enter your credit card details you’ve been charged in Euro’s not Lira. This is an easy one to overlook, so always check the currency before entering your pin as chances are you wont know about it until your home and receive your credit card statement.

If paying in cash, always check the current exchange rates in Turkey, some deceptive shop keepers will have their own exchange rate, the calculator will come out, lots of numbers entered which will no doubt not match the current bank exchange rates in Turkey leaving you worse off.


Taxi scam – Use the meter or always negotiate a price before getting into the car


Always keep a tab of the drinks and food you and your family/friends are ordering. Some less scrupulous restaurants will ad extras to your bill, you may discover the two bottles of wine and 3 beers you had reads 3 bottles of wine and 5 beers on your bill.

Leather shops/markets

Remember all ‘designer’ handbags, clothes etc sold in leather goods shops are fake. Some will openly display that their leather goods are ‘genuine fakes’ however there are a few who will try to convince you that that ‘designer handbag’ is actually real acquired from a well connected ‘friend’. No chance.

You may even encounter the old burn the leather bag with a lighter trick, “see, genuine lambs leather’ There is no such thing.

Vendors can be very pushy, and very persuasive. They will go to no end to get a sale. But, while the fun and games of a persistent salesman is all part of the Turkish experience, remember these tips to avoid a scam.

Always ask in advance the price of items you are considering buying, whether it be clothes, trinkets, carpets, food or drink, before you order or purchase it!!! Otherwise, you run the risk of being very shocked at the price.

Overall Turkey is a beautiful fascinating country, rich in culture and heritage and a must see travel destination. Thankly most will experience a wonderful time here.

What can you do if you have been affected by a scam?

There are tourist police, which deal with these matters.

Istanbul Tourism Police Hotline – (212) 527 4505

Address: Emniyet Müdürlüğü Turizm Şube Müdürlüğü Yerebatan Cad. No: 6 Sultanahmet, Istanbul

The Department of Customer Rights Office
– you should go here in person or the caller needs to speak Turkish.

Address: 133 Istiklal Ave, head down the street (with the old tram) away from Taksim Square and it will be on your left about a quarter of the way down.

Alo 179 is a 24/7 free phone helpline that’s designed to help expats and tourists resolve complaints about businesses or services that they are unhappy with.

The free helpline deals with a range of reports of bad service relating to matters such as:

•property transactions
•Belediye services (mainly potholes and rubbish issues)
•excessive noise
•shopping complaints
•general bad or rude behaviour

So next time if you have an issue or complaint that you cannot resolve locally, pick up the phone and dial 179.


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