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The Top 5 Countries Where You’re Most Likely To Get Scammed

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It's true travelers can get scammed everywhere, even in Europe and other traditionally safe destinations, especially when it's their first time going abroad and they haven't quite got the hang of it yet. Nevertheless, there are five specific destinations where the risk of being deceived is higher, and more caution is thus advised.

Galata Tower In Istanbul, Turkey

Going abroad and immersing yourself in a different culture can be an incredible experience, but it surely does not come without its own set of challenges. On the downside, most of the time your knowledge of the local language and customs will be limited, and this inevitably leaves you more susceptible to scams – even online.

For that reason, you may want to read up on the data compiled by the online trading platform InvestinGoal on the number of scams reported across a number of countries in 2021 ahead of boarding your flight:

5. Turkey

View Of Ankara Fortress With The Turkish Flag Flying High Above The Ancient Structure, Ankara, Capital Of Turkey

Continent(s): Europe, Asia

Number of scams in 2021: 1,938,900

Turkey – officially Turkyie – is the fifth country with the highest number of online scams in the world. When planning a visit, travelers are urged to book their flights and leisure activities through reliable websites, as credit card cloning and data theft are much more common in Turkey compared to other European or Asian countries.

More specifically, the online fraud ratio is 23 per 1,000 people, but it's worth noting that's only limited to cyber crimes. Sadly, other types of scam have been widely reported in Turkey, such as friendly shopkeepers kindly offering ‘free' samples you're later coerced to pay a fortune for, and taxi drivers operating on inflated fares.

4. Russia

Kremlin In Moscow, Russia

Continent(s): Europe, Asia

Number of scams in 2021: 5,330,000

While we do not see tourism resuming in Russia anytime soon due to its aggression against Ukraine, this cross-continental behemoth has captivated visitors for centuries, having spawned novelists like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, and being a home to the Bolshoi Theater. Notwithstanding its cultural prestige, Russia is the fourth most corrupt nation on this ranking.

There are currently 37 scams per 1,000 people in Russia, with Americans being among those affected. In fact, the U.S. Department of State has dedicated an entire section of their website to internet dating scams in Russia; additionally, visitors are told to beware of ‘bogus police officersand unlicensed tour operators charging extortionate fees.

3. Mexico

Aerial View Of Mexico City, Mexico

Continent: North America

Number of scams in 2021: 5,500,000

America's favorite, Mexico charts at an undesirable number 3. This corroborates other findings that, in the short time span of three years, travel scams have increased by more than 200% in one of the country's most popular beach spots. As it seems, ghost agencies selling fake vacation packages are largely to blame for the reputational damage.

With 42,7 scams per 1,000, Mexico is the only North-American country to make the top five, in spite of the Government's latest pledge to fight crime more actively. Whether it's the targeting of vulnerable tourists online, or Cancun's well-documented record of taxi scams, Mexico still has a long way to go in becoming a fairer society.

2. India

Couple Of Tourists Riding An Elephant In India, South Asia

Continent: Asia

Number of scams in 2021: 120,000,000

The runner-up, India registers a whopping 87 per 1,000 people, more than double the figures of Mexico and Russia. Beyond the internet, where shady operators sell the usual fraudulent packages, visitors can get ripped off at unofficial ‘tourist offices', taking higher-priced cabs from the airport, and falling victim to India's trademark ‘hotel switch' scam.

Additionally, the U.S. lists ‘crime' and ‘terrorism' as two other reasons why Americans should not let their guards down when visiting India, and maintain a high level of situation awareness transiting areas marked my conflict (e.g. along the border with neighboring Pakistan). Women may also be at a particularly high risk of danger when traveling alone.

1. Brazil

Historical Colonial Town Of Tiradentes, Minas Gerais, Brazil, South America

Continent: South America

Number of scams in 2021: 125,410,052

Crowned the Scam King by a large margin, Brazil had a rate of 590 scams per 1,000 people in 2021, a staggering 503 points ahead of India, and an even farther 567 from number-five peaking Turkey. Although India has a population of 1.38 billion, and Brazil only 212.6 million, the latter still surpasses the South Asian giant in total incidents.

This may be South America's top rated sunny destination, with 4,650 miles of coastline and a myriad of incredible, off-path places ready to be explored, but traveling the continent-sized country requires careful planning in advance and a deeper knowledge of Brazilian culture. Furthermore, robbery and violence remain a huge concern.


Travel Scam Concept Image Of Woman Holding Her Credit Card While Chatting On The Phone With A View To The Sea

While InvestinGoal's data does not inform how many of these online scams have affected tourists, or were related to travel specifically, the research is a clear indication of countries where the practice is widespread, irrespective of its nature. In Mexico and Turkey, for instance, tourism makes up a significant part of their GDP, making this specific sector extremely profitable for criminals.

Hence, in order to avoid getting scammed and having your vacation ruined when traveling to any of the above countries, make sure you:

Solo Male Traveler Getting Into A Taxi Or Uber Car As Driver Opens Door For Him, Uber Concept Image
  • Always book leisure/tour activities via a licensed operator
  • Avoid making a flight or hotel reservation through a local travel agency you've never heard of, or whose online reviews aren't good
  • Use Uber or official taxi apps where they're available (to be extra safe, double check the driver's score)
  • Pre-book airport and/or intercity transfers online in advance
  • Keep a low profile when visiting overly touristy sites where scammers and robbers are known to act (never flash jewelry or other valuables unnecessarily)
  • Keep an eye on your personal belongings when approached by a random stranger, however friendly they seem
  • When in need of help as a visitor, or seeking information, find the nearest tourist reception center

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Tuesday 4th of July 2023

Definetely India plays in another league. Not so much in the southern part, but at the north, if you walk on the street, every few meters there will be a guy approaching you to try taking advantage of you. Not to mention fake tourist agencies, tour guides-shops partnerships, dishonest tuk tuk drivers, etc.etc.etc. In Mexico I experienced that a bit only in the touristic Playa del Carmen (nothing comparable to India, anyways), but in other parts of the country I felt very comfortable. Eventually, in Brazil some scams are there, but the real matter are the violent robberies. Especially from Rio de Janeiro towards the north-east, Brazil is a very unsafe place to be, not only for the tourists, but also for the locals. Unfortunately, the police, either because the crime is too widespread or its own inefficiency, does very less to protect the civilians.


Friday 21st of October 2022

I was recently the victim of a scam at Istanbul Airport (IST).

I had booked a transfer service while still in my country. However, when I arrived in Istanbul, I did not find my driver at the agreed departure gate. I spoke to another driver at the same location and he allegedly called the person who was supposed to pick me up. I was induced to run the race with what I found at the airport. The price was charged in Turkish Lira and in the end I paid almost 4 times the usual amount for the distance covered. I didn't know about the Turkish Lira exchange rate.

I went to the police, but they didn't file a report. The manager of the hotel where I stayed said that there is a big mafia in car transport in that airport and in the city as well. Uber, for example, does not work in Istanbul.

The guide I had hired did not show up the next day. At the hotel, you receive less than the amount paid and they try to overcharge whenever possible.

I was robbed and there is a lot of opportunism and tourist exploitation in Istanbul. The experience was terrible and I came back very disappointed. I do not recommend Istanbul and Turkey at all to anyone.


Sunday 28th of August 2022

Damn, India and Brazil are off the chart, which makes Turkey, Mexico and Russia look very safe.

Also, in regards to travel safety in Russia due to the Special Operation in Ukraine, one could travel in Russia’s Vladivostok and still be at a safe and equal distance to the Ukrainian border as is New York. Yes, it just happens that Russia is a huge country. And for that matter, it is very difficult to measure safety as it can vary widely depending on location.


Monday 29th of August 2022

@Jose, If we decide to call it a war, then we have to call it as such from 2014 on.


Sunday 28th of August 2022

@Christian, special operation in Ukraine? WTF, it's a war!


Sunday 28th of August 2022

i always laugh or think they know very little about how the world really works - on travelers who state "everyone is good" except for politics, etc...


Saturday 27th of August 2022

definitely India....80+ countries visited...and India is #1 in fraud department in my experience. Both materially AND spiritually. You don't want my opinion of Yoga or Yogis! Nor of Hinduism...but silver lining of truth there too..hahahaha.

Brazil, Mexico, Turkey...not in my experience too much. But read about it all the time (Brazil - operation Car Wash comes to mind).

Russia - only place I've been pickpocketed. (Subway - distraction)

Corruption Perceptions list...see how far down most countries rank....