Jamaica may be the land of beautiful white sand beaches, tropical breezes, Reggae and rum punches but like any place, particularly a tropical destination, it’s important to always be on guard to possible scams. The following story is a good lesson about why prudence pays off. It’s important to always be aware of your circumstances and make sure the tour operator you hire is legit. Unfortunately a group of young tourists to Jamaica might not have employed greater diligence but then the man in question did have a business card and they thought he was on the up and up. However they claim they were scammed out of a whopping $360,000 by the guy whom they thought was going to provide them with transportation according to an eturbonews.
“We were a group of young people from Australia, Turkey, Germany, Switzerland and Russia. During our travels, we met a Jamaican gentleman who introduced himself as a tour guide, with a business card and he offered us a package that includes accommodation, transport and meals. This package was really good for US$50 (J$6,078)per day. We all agreed and decided to use him,” German Vanessa Hadchiti said. “During our travels, he offered tour guide packages to four people who were proceeding to Cuba. He took money for the tour package and upon arriving in Cuba, there was no tour guide. He also took money, promising to exchange it and never returned it,” she added.
Anna Villit, 23, complained to the police Fraud Squad that she has been unable to get back 800 US dollars or approximately $97,000 Jamaican she paid to a Jamaican who goes by the name Junior. “I was perhaps too naive and stupid,” Villit said, while adding that she is unlikely to return to Jamaica because of the “horrible” experience. Villit, who now is volunteering with disabled children in Jamaica, said she met the mysterious tour guide on Valentine’s Day and that he was friendly and helpful.
The tour operator did however take the young travelers so spots such as the Blue Mountains and Port Antonio. But Vilit said she fell for a trick to pre-pay on a trip Cuba. “The money was for me to go to Cuba. I have this internship here and I wasn’t sure if I could get off, so the arrangement was that in case I don’t get to go, he would give me the money back,” she said.
According to Tourist $Scams, Jamaica like all tourist hotspots has people trying to take advantage of its ‘Hey mon, be happy, all is well” vacation motto. This sometimes causes the traveler to be caught off guard when it comes to being tricked or scammed. “The differences in culture and habits can be a bit confusing, even to the experienced traveler, and that gives those with dishonest intentions an advantage, especially with travelers who have just arrived after a long and exhausting flight,” said Tourist $Scam that also stressed what to watch out for:
§ Beware if a tour operator who may seem friendly becomes intimidated if you don’t pay them a large sum for the unsolicited guided tour.
§ Don’t book your taxi at the hotel desk, as you will pay triple the regular price. They try to scare you with stories of theft and robbery with other taxi’s, but that’s just to get you to book with them.
§ As everywhere, don’t change your money on the streets, but at a bank, hotel desk or official money exchange office. You may get ripped off by a hustler on the street.
§ Be very careful with marijuana, especially young visitors are often targets of Jamaicans trying to sell them weed which is still an illegal drug for which the sentences can be severe.
Be sure to watch the video to see how one tourist tricked her scammer.