Archive for the ‘Scams’ Category

Advisory from the United States Department of State

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

This is directly from the Department of State. Although this applies directly to Hungary, several Eastern European countries have these issues too.

There are several clubs and restaurants in Budapest about which the U.S. Embassy has received numerous complaints from U.S. Citizens for engaging in unethical business practices. Victims have reports with the Embassy describing the following practices: excessive billing of customers, physical intimidation to force customers to pay exorbitant bills (including holding a member of a party while others in the group pay the bill at ATMs, 24-hour cash facilities), and assault by club/restaurant employees for non-payment of excessive bills. There have been incidents, albeit rare, where U.S> citizens unknowingly have been drugged.

Further, do not let seemingly helpful taxi drivers or local women lure you to an establishment they recommend – they may receive a commission for bringing victims to the club/restaurant. It is also advised that you not patronize clubs/ restaurants that do not list prices or provide a menu with prices. Always verify the cost prior to purchase. Be aware that a menu switch may occur at the time of a billing complaint/dispute, for you may be handed a menu that lists higher prices and other hidden charges.

This list is not all-encompassing, so please use common sense and take note when/where one or more local women approach U.S. Citizens in the guise of friendship. Please note that most of these places are located in the Budapest’s fifth district, on/near the main tourist street, the Vaci utca.

Varoskozpont (accessible by an outside elevator)
Galaxia etterem, bar
La Dolce Vita
Nirvana Night Club
Ti’Amo Bar
Diamond Club
Pigalle Night Club

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TAXI TIPS, How to Avoid getting Ripped Off

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

  Taking a taxi can be a convenience or waste of time and money. There are several rules as well as scams when you get into a cab, especially in a foreign country. Here are a few.

  Many taxi drivers lie and say they can’t break your larger notes and you’ll end up grossly overpaying. If your cab fare is $10 and all you have on you is $20s, there is nothing you can do if he doesn’t have change. Many cash machines give large bills like 50 Euros which just makes the situation worse.  The solution is to get money at cash machines close to the hotel. Then cash any large bills to small ones and then always carry some small bills with you. At the end of the trip, you can always use them for tips. 

Many drivers will short change you, say goodbye and rush you out of the cab. Stay in the cab, get your cash, and count it until it you are satisfied with the numbers.

 Many taxis charge higher rates at night time. Don’t think it’s a scam if the evening ride back from the restaurant costs more than the afternoon ride to the restaurant.

Dishonest drivers may take the great circle route to jack up your fare. Have a city map and pretend to follow along with your progress. Ask the driver which route he’s taking. Act engaged in your routing. I layed over with a Captain who had a huge boy scout compass. When he pulled it out, it made everyone one think twice about the directions you gave him.

These are some one the scams that happen with taxies. There are hundreds of more that befall unsuspecting travelers. It is so prevalent these days. Thousands of travelers lose hundreds in currency a day. To see more scams, go to Scams At . And to see travel advice, go to Advice at .

Sting Operation in Rome at Restaurants

Friday, August 28th, 2009

THE ROME REPORT: written by Liza Salvatore (Roman historian/Papal scholar)

You can get fined in Rome if you have the  wrong Reciept for your meal.

Look to see if the restaurant is giving you an official receipt known as a ricevuta fiscale which has the proprietor’s social security number, etc. IF it does not, it means that they are not paying taxes on what they have charged you so don’t feel obligated to leave anything more than a few coins. I would suggest in any case that you get a “ricevuta fiscale” an official receipt because you are in danger of being caught in a sting with the Guardia di Finanza who may think you are colluding with the restaurant to help them avoid paying income tax. YOU are required to have a ricevuta fiscale when you walk out of a restaurant, a store, a coffee house and may be asked to provide it if the Guardia di Finanza is spot checking.

Ripped Off in Russia

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

After our flight was cancelled, we had an extra day in Moscow so we decided to go to Lenin’s Tomb. It is open Tuesday to Thursday and Saturday and Sunday, 10 to 1 and is free to enter. After getting our brief on when we would leave the next day, we headed of to the Metro to start our journey. We got to the entrance 15 minutes before it ‘closes’ only to have the guards tell us no more visitors for the day. We asked them about the time and they just shrugged their shoulders. The tour guides were circling around us like sharks.

The first one came up informing us that for 500 rubles each he can get us in. Apparently there is an agreement that when no more visitors are allowed in for free but before the tomb closed, tour guides could get us in. We said no to his offer and he puts on the pressure like a good con-man saying I hope you can come back tomorrow. When we leave and look for another way in, we are approached by anther saying we are very late but for 1200 rubles he can get us in and give us. I tell him the other guy would do it for 500. He said his price includes a tour of all the other 4 graves including Yuri Gagarin, Stalin, and Brezhnev. This is interesting because we have 10 minutes until it closes and this tour seems longer than 20, yet the guards won’t let us in just to see Lenin. I start to see the scam.

Next he says for 700 Rubles he can let both of us just see Lenin and we agree and he sets the hook. As we get closer, the guide looks at his watch and the starts running this is to see how bad we want to get in. As he runs, he says we are very late and tries to bid the price up saying historical facts along the way. He then says for 900 rubles we can get more information. We say no then he passes another guide and they exchange words. We go a little farther and he says we cannot get in because we are too late.

So if you are going to Lenin’s Tomb make sure you get there at least 30 minutes before it closes. Otherwise you will be charged 1200 Rubles, around $40, to see something that is for free. Also, be careful of the guides and know some are ‘hyper-capitalistic.”

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