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Even though it’s filled with history and vibrant attractions, Hong Kong is home to a shocking amount of tourist scams. While violence is extremely low, this bustling metropolis is rife with fraud and organized crime. This malevolent financial focus is due to the fact that their tourist industry is booming. Over 60 million tourists are expected to visit Hong Kong in 2018, which is a 3.6% increase from last year. As the number of tourists continue to grow, so are the number of scams that prey on new visitors.
While Hong Kong is extremely safe, there are plenty of crafty traps that cost tourists lots of money. Instead of using violence to rip off their victims, criminal syndicates use various methods of deception and persuasion. These scams are extremely devious, since they prey on humanity’s most fundamental instincts. Robbing tourists is an exceptionally lucrative industry, which has given birth to plenty of complex schemes. A small amount of money can go a long way here, which allows crime syndicates to hire plenty of help.
Everyone knows that taxi’s and street vendors can’t be trusted, but tourist scams in Hong Kong go much deeper. To highlight the amount of planning that goes into cheating visitors, we compiled a list of the most creative scams in Hong Kong. While common sense is a traveler’s best friend, many scams prey on their emotions. These antics are simultaneously horrifying and hilarious, so prepare to be shocked by this list!
Scam #3: Fake Medicine Sale – While many shops rig their weighing scales to sell less herbs, some scammers up the ante with unrivaled theatrics. Once they spot a wealthy looking tourist on the street, they send over an elderly lady to approach them. This woman will offer to sell the tourist herbs that allegedly are extremely valuable. When the tourist refuses, the woman will claim that the visitor can resell the herbs and make a huge profit in their home country.
To further sell the scam, an accomplice will pretend to overhear the conversation and rush over. Making sure the tourist hears him, he will loudly offer to pay double the price that the woman is asking for. Faced with an offer that appears too good to be true, many tourists end up purchasing the herbs. Unfortunately, this is far from a wise investment. The herbs are usually fake, with little to no value in Hong Kong or abroad.
Scam #2: Bad Aura Spiritual Cleanse – Even though this ruse is absolutely ridiculous, it entraps a surprisingly large amount of tourists. Once the scammers spots their mark, they will approach the unlucky tourist and claim that they have a bad aura. Before the victim can think twice, the stranger will ask if they have heard of an extremely popular spiritual doctor. As they expound upon the miracles that this guru has done, another accomplice will pretend to overhear the conversation. Without missing a beat, they’ll claim that their close family member was saved from evil energies by receiving a cleansing ceremony.
After all this, they’ll announce that the super doctor is busy but they know someone who can help. By now the tourist is terrified about their aura, so many blindly follow the two scammers to a third accomplice. After doing a brief examination, the third scammer will announce that the tourist came to him just in time. Apparently one of the victim’s family members offended a spirit, so a cleansing ceremony is necessary to avoid misfortune. From there a cleansing ceremony is offered, but the victim has to surrender their valuables for the ritual.
While most people wouldn’t fall for this, plenty of people put their valuables in a bag. The doctor pretends to safeguard the bag, but it ends up getting switched during the ritual. When the cleansing ceremony is over, the doctor quickly hands over the bag and disappears. To the tourist’s dismay, they soon discover that their valuables have been replaced by crumpled up newspapers. Sometimes its better to remain cursed than to get robbed on the path to redemption!
Scam #1: Begging Monks – When walking around the tourist areas, visitors will spot multiple monks. These seemingly ambiguous figures will calmly ask for donations and even occasionally offer blessings. While this seems harmless, it’s completely against the law. In Hong Kong it’s a criminal offense to beg in public. All forms of begging aren’t tolerated, so the only beggars on the street are involved in criminal gangs. From monks to the elderly, they all pay bribes to stay on the street. Avoid accidentally funding organized crime by giving money to those who are working instead of begging in public!
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