12 Most Common Tourist Scams in Singapore – The Must Avoid Traps
When you are going to Singapore, you should be aware of the tourist scams in Singapore. You should know that all the world’s tourists destinations have the potential of being the target of scams.
You can’t expect all the locals to be honest and trustworthy. Although not all locals are bad, it doesn’t hurt to know some of the common scams so you can avoid them.
And whenever you are out in other countries, you should never let your guards down. Always be careful and stay away from suspicious activities.
Vacation apartment is one of the most common tourist scams in Singapore.
This usually happens through online booking. The scammers have fake listings or fake websites.
They probably offer a very low price for a very good apartment, targeting tourists who want to stay in Singapore for a rather long time.
The signs are pretty obvious, really. If the prices are too low while the apartment is quite sophisticated and luxurious, then you should be alert.
If you check the reviews and they don’t seem good, then it is fake. If they only accept payments online that is off the platform (such as MoneyGram, Western Union, or bank transfers that are irreversible), then it is another suspecting element.
Moreover, if they claim that the owners are overseas without including complete details or not being forthcoming, be aware.
You should also check the photos from the one on Google Street View pics, then it is another sign of scam.
If you are making online order, use the one with buyer protection rights (like booking.com or other similar platforms).
If you have a local friend, ask them to check the place. You should also ask the owner for detailed specifics. And if you need to make a down payment, never pay in full.
And never do it out of the platform. Keep all the documents.
Overpriced Food at Street Hawker Center
In Singapore, this usually happens in hawker centers or food courts.
Some of them are notorious for charging the absurd price for the meals.
It’s not only happening to hawker centers but also to some suspicious restaurants.
They may charge an exorbitant prices for the things that are generally assumed to be complimentary, such as paper napkins, wet wipes, a slice of lemon, a sliced mango, or sauce – they are usually free, right? And they may overcharge the things that you don’t order at all.
If you want to avoid this, you need to ask from the beginning about the price – and whether it is inclusive of everything within the meal.
And ask them upfront about the extra items and their costs.
Fake Attraction Tickets
Enjoying your entertainment while in Singapore can be great,
but you need to be careful when you want to buy tickets online.
With the increasing popularity of peer to peer marketplace, the trend of selling (and buying) tickets online has been increasing.
The problem is: fake tickets and mischievous sellers are also available. These sellers will likely disappear after they get the payment, for sure.
If you find offers for ticket events, concerts, and tourists attractions with a very low price, but the sellers don’t want to meet up or even provide their ID to prove their legit status, be aware.
The safest way is to have a direct payment, not through transfer.
And it would be a best idea to buy from licensed platforms with bestselling sales and tickets.
Credit Card Swap
Be aware that your credit card may be exchanged or swapped.
Although such a tourist scams in Singapore generally happens in restaurants, never leave your sight of your card.
The scheme usually like this: You handout the credit card to pay and they return it to you wrapped in a receipt. Most unsuspecting tourists wouldn’t suspect it and just keep it in their wallet.
They realize it long after – even after several days. In most schemes, the cards are expired ones that look exactly like yours.
If you want to complain for it, forget it. In most cases, the tourists don’t have any proof so the only thing that they can do is to go to the police only to find out that there are several similar cases like theirs.
Want to avoid it? Always watch out of your card and never take your sight out of it.
Be careful when you are going to nightclubs, especially at Orchard Towers.
It is known as the place to find ‘whores’. Be careful when you are approached by strangers.
For men travelers, be careful when you are approached by girls, especially by those who ask you to buy them drinks.
There are several possible schemes of how the scams run. You may be asked to pay an exorbitant amount of money for your drinks.
Or you get a drink from someone (usually from attractive lady) and it turns out that your drink is spiked. You can either be assaulted or being overcharged on the cards.
The best way to avoid it is to not to accept drinks that aren’t made in front of you. And never leave your drink unattended.
Someone may spike it. If it is possible, choose bottled or canned drinks. And make sure that you will get a receipt for your transaction.
In case they don’t give any receipt, check your transaction. That’s why it is a good idea to have an online banking service and a working internet connection.
This is also one of the most common scams in many popular tourist destinations in the world.
You may walk down Bugis Street or Chinatown and see many well-known perfumes sold in discounted rates – you only spend a few dollars to get a bottle.
So you know, those are only watered down products sold in replica boxes.
Perfumes aren’t the only fake products sold in Singapore. There are others, like fake luxury items, electronics, and even pills.
You need to be careful when you go down pasar malam (the pop up street market), Sim Lim Square, Bugis Street, and Chinatown.
If the price is too good to be true, then it is probably is. Just use your logic. For branded items, would it be possible for the manufacturers to sell those products for a few dollars?
When compared to other places, taxi service in Singapore is mostly reliable
so the scam case is pretty rare. But it doesn’t mean that there isn’t any of it. There are several schemes for the sca, to happen.
First is to charge you an excessive surcharge.
Second, the driver may return your money with Malaysian Ringgit for a change. Be mindful that ringgit has a lower value when compared to Singapore dollar.
Third, the drivers may reject you, especially if you want to make a trip outside of town. It’s because they have to deal with ‘empty’ trip back to the town.
If it is possible, use a booking online app like Grab or Gojek. And the public transportation in Singapore is pretty good, so you may want to consider using them instead of the taxi.
After all, the public transportation are more affordable when compared to taxi.
Fake Nuns or Monks
Be aware of fake monks or nuns (or any other religious persona)
that you find wandering on the street, looking for donation. You should be able to spot them from far away.
If you so happen encounter them and you can’t avoid them, simply say no and walk away.
If they are pretty aggressive, you can threaten them to call the police.
If it is possible, just avoid them. This is one of the most annoying tourist scams in Singapore.
It is basically almost similar to the fake products scams,
but a more complicated one – and it involves electronic items. There are possible scams that are happening. First, they may swap the authentic products with the fake or imitation ones – hoping that you won’t check.
Second, they may offer very cheap price but with high price of warranty. They may not give you the terms and conditions or don’t explain it to you.
By the time you have paid for it, they won’t give it to you until you have paid the warranty – which can cost you thousands of dollars.
You should be careful when doing electronic shopping at Lucky Plaza in Orchard, People’s Park Complex in Chinatown, or Sim Lim Square in Bugis. Don’t be tempted by the overly low price.
It would be better to visit only reputable big chains or shops like Harvey Norman, Courts, or Challenger.
In case you have already got involved in the scam, consult the police or CASE (Consumer Association of Singapore). Don’t forget to bring all the evidence, receipt, and documents.
Fake Travel Agents
The first scheme involves travel agents offering cheap tours and travels
and then suddenly disappears. Some even involve agencies with unlicensed guides that may lead to them being suspended – affecting your travel.
The second one involves agents that cause their customers to somehow lose their payments and bookings. You definitely don’t want this to happen.
The first sign that you can spot is about the price. If it doesn’t seem logical, then it is probably is. Then, you should only go to reputable agents.
You know that these agents are legal and licensed, and they have working phone numbers, office, and also website. Also check the price – does it cover everything?
Sure, giving to others is good – especially for your moral and conscious mind.
Unfortunately, a lot of people often take advantage of this situation. They may create fake cause or use a popular name of a foundation (or organization) to get money for themselves.
They will likely forge donation permits to make self-made donation tins on the street. They may also claim that they represent charities to get donation.
They may also operate online, operating on social platform as well as crowd funding websites.
If you want to make donations, make sure that they have the SPF sample certificate and sample certificate issued by NCSS.
You can also scan their code with your smartphone (using the QR Code verification). If you want to do the online donation, you can do it on SPF website, NCSS site, or Charity Portal.
Or if you want to avoid one of these common tourist scams in Singapore, you can always avoid a huge crowd on the street.
If you see people with fliers or clipboards on the street (and there are several people of them), then it is best to avoid them at all.
If you happen to encounter them and you can’t really avoid them, then walk away.
It’s better to be (considered) rude than to lose money for the donation – that you don’t want to make at all.
If you are traveling, you should always need to be careful about the restaurant scams.
You should especially be aware of the touristy areas and regions. There are several possible schemes that you will deal with.
The first one is the misleading prices. You think that a portion costs you only $5 but it is actually marked up to $20.
Second, the restaurant has misleading portion sizes. You see the menu and think that it is big, but it is actually very small.
Third, they offer you a menu that isn’t in English or the one without the price.
Be careful for restaurants offering seafood menus although not all of them will do the same trick. If you want to enjoy good food, it’s better to choose the reputable places.
You can avoid touts by using food review apps, such as HungryGoWhere or Burpple. You can also choose the reputable seafood spots like Palm Beach Seafood, Red House Seafood, and Jumbo Seafood.
If you have local friends, you can ask them for their recommendations.
The best trick is to be observant. When you get into the restaurant, check whether the menu has the price and detail description.
The waiter should be able to describe the portion. If he/she seems hesitant, then go away. Be sure to know your orders. If there is something that you aren’t ordering, don’t eat it.
Ask the waiter to take it away. When you are paying, check the bill. The bill should match the one you order. If it is possible, remember the price of each dish you have ordered.
As long as you are careful and you don’t let your guard down, you should be able to avoid these tourist scams in Singapore and enjoy your trip more conveniently.