10 Scams to Avoid in Goa

There are scams in every tourist destination. The good news is that you are unlikely to get seriously stung in Goa.  In no particular order here are ten tricks to watch out for:

1. BOTTLED WATER

Anyone remember  'Peckham Spring Water'  from the BBC comedy  "Only Fools and Horses"?  Well, India were ahead of the game.  Just check the seal is unbroken on any water you buy from street sellers and train stations.  The local Dell Boy could give you "Dehli  Belly"  if you are not careful.

2. ELEPHANT PHOTOS

There are well treated temple elephants in Goa. Also there are some "holy men" (Sadhus) who operate in Calangute and Candolim  for their own gain.  They say the elephant can remove sins and will encourage posing with it before hassling for a very large "donation".  The mistreatment of these elephants is well known and locals will often warn you, but it continues.

3. NO CHANGE

Not having change is often genuine in Goa.  In fact don't be  surprised if you are given boiled sweets in supermarkets instead of small change.  Just make sure you carry change.  Almost certainly you will not get anything back from a rickshaw driver.

4. GIFTS FOR BACK HOME

Be extra careful when you are buying wrapped gifts to take home. That lovely box of saffron might turn out to be finely shredded orange paper.

5. SPECIAL DEALS (Internet SIM card top-ups)

This may not be common, but we were caught out with a  "special deal" which  promised automatic  future credit. Where possible check on-line to see what  providers are changing presently before topping up.

6. EAR CLEANERS

Indian Ear Cleaners

Ear cleaning is a genuine roadside service in India, but in tourist Goa you are unlikely to get the real deal.  The scammer's trick is to get to your ear before you know what's happening and exact some pre-prepared gunk . Do take a look at the ID card they will show you. In my case it said the Ear cleaner had mental health issues, but others report amusing spelling mistakes like confusing "Microscope" for "Horoscope".

7. RECOMMENDED SHOPS

It's common in Asia for shops to pay a commission to those who bring in customers. It's not a scam itself, but the pay tends to be better at the shops who specialise in over charging gullible tourists.   Even government supported tours who offer shopping  for Goa's famous tax free spirits take tourists (usually domestic) to one overpriced shop.

8. AIRPORT STAFF

Watch out for the airport baggage carriers who like to help you get your suitcases of the carousel for you or those who want a few pounds (rather than RS 20) for carrying bags a few yards. Watch out for the toilet cleaners who collects one pound coins. More recently my Indian brother-in-law was charge import tax on the jeans  he was wearing!

9. BEACH SELLERS

Beach Sellers Goa

Although there are occasional variations, beach sellers are generally men selling pirate DVD's and women selling clothing. It's an illegal and is an expensive way to get goods.  Watch how a group of sarong sellers will sit around a lone female tourist on the beach until she either buys or leaves out of discomfort. It's time tourists stop buying from those without a licence.

10. PROPERTY BUYING

This has to be the mother of all scams. Unless you are Indian (or are an Original Citizen of India) our advice is simply don't get lured into thinking you can own property in Goa.  If you are still not convinced read this personal account or this  UK newspaper report.

HAVE YOU BEEN SCAMMED IN GOA?

As always, we would love to hear of your thoughts or experiences.

9 Comments

  1. Ryan 7 November, 2015 at 10:47 am #

    Today I narrowly avoided the ear cleaning scam, so thank you guys for the top advice. It’s been sitting in the back of my head for ages and then today, popped to my mind just in time.
    Saved me what could have been an expensive trip to the shops.:)

    • David Waumsley 27 December, 2015 at 3:34 am #

      Thanks Ryan. So thrilled it was useful and so sorry for missing your comment for so long. I’ve not seen a ear cleaner again since writing this, but it often seem to be the way that people offering the same service seem to group together.

      I’d love to know why you can get around 40 ice cream sellers competing against each other at Colva beach and a mile south not one on Benaulim beach.

  2. Paul 4 January, 2016 at 7:51 pm #

    Paul

    Just returned from a 2 week holiday in cavalossem, South Goa. Arriving at the hotel around 2am with a 5;30 hour time difference. I sat on my balcony until 4:00 am enjoying a couple of beers…. Next morning we lose count of the amount of insect bites I had received, over 70… two days later Delhi Belly kicked in, lasting almost 4 days changing my tablets after the second day as it was clear these didn’t work for me !! (local chemist ). into the second week I starting getting a slight discomfort in my Right ankle (Tuesday) by Wednesday morning The pain was unbearable so back to the chemists, They recommended a pain relief spray and pain killers. I returned home Friday morning and went to A&E Saturday morning as the pain was unbearable. Because I had not done any think they would not X-ray my foot. The Pain has now moved along into my big toe. The Right foot is compltley swollen and still very painful 7 days on.. Could this possibly be down to the bites I received on that first night ??

    • David Waumsley 5 January, 2016 at 6:06 am #

      ..But apart from that you had a brilliant time!!

      Jeez – that’s terrible Paul. I hope all comes right for you soon. Cavelossim is not too far from us in Benaulim. It seems unlikely the bites could have done that – doesn’t it?. But what do we know. We actually don’t get bitten much. Maybe it’s our habit of turning on the repellents or spray it at dusk and dawn. If we do, it is nothing more than an itchy lump that goes in a day or two.

      Sounds like your body has had quite an assault on it. The plane journey sharing everyones air and the circulation problems you can with it, then the bites and the food poisoning. I must admit when I get run down here I get a series of seemingly unrelated ailments. I have found most of the doctors to be good here. It costs more to get a prescription back home than see someone privately here. I have a couple of Xrays done in Margao. I think the total was RS 400.

      Thanks for sharing this here. Wish I had something helpful to say.

  3. Andrea 21 January, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

    Thanks for your useful advice. My friend nearly had problems due to ear cleaners in Margao. He came from behind and stuck something in my friend’s ear. He just managed to stop him going deep. I also got scammed in Mackies night market. I got chatting to a girl whilst waiting for ladies toilet. Not realising she was a stall holder I admitted only being here 3 days. I went shopping on my own. She spotted me and bartered with me for what I thoughtvwas silver. I was pulled into the back of the stall and she and another woman helped themselves to the money from my purse. I ended up paying £60 for £10 worth of jewellery. Luckily an english lady who is experienced in Goa got the Market manager and security guard involved. I got my money back.

    • David Waumsley 21 January, 2016 at 1:16 pm #

      Heck, Andrea you were lucky at the market.

      Those ear cleaners do dive in quickly don’t they? I was facing mine and he still managed to get to it – Just not quite enough to make the wax he claimed to retrieve believable. Not seen any for awhile.

      Oh well I guess we would have no tales to tell without these folk. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  4. Manish 31 January, 2017 at 6:53 am #

    My bro and i went to anjuna beach . We were standing near the beach . Suddenly two people came and introduced them as ear cleaners .
    They started to clean my brother’s taking out the ear wax . He permitted it because they asked 150 rs for cleaning .
    After taking some wax they took stones from his ears and showed to us . By that time a person started to clean my ears also .
    At first i resisted because the ear wax is actually good for me . But this stone matter is strange .
    I want to know how they took stone from my ears .
    After taking a stone they said each stone taking costs 50 rs extra .
    He took 3 stones from my brothers ear and one stone from mine .initial charge was 150rs and for two it is 300 and for 4 stones it was 500 . Unfortunately we paid the amount and left anjuna wothout enjoying
    Ear cleaning bitches out the fuck yu

    • David Waumsley 3 February, 2017 at 9:08 pm #

      Manish – Thanks so much for the story. That is priceless! Stones are completely new to me.

      You have to laugh don’t you? Scam are frustrating (sometime devastating) when you’re the victim, but I do find it amusing what they come up with.

  5. Manish 31 January, 2017 at 6:55 am #

    My bro and i went to arambol beach . We were standing near the beach . Suddenly two people came and introduced them as ear cleaners .
    They started to clean my brother’s taking out the ear wax . He permitted it because they asked 150 rs for cleaning .
    After taking some wax they took stones from his ears and showed to us . By that time a person started to clean my ears also .
    At first i resisted because the ear wax is actually good for me . But this stone matter is strange .
    I want to know how they took stone from my ears .
    After taking a stone they said each stone taking costs 50 rs extra .
    He took 3 stones from my brothers ear and one stone from mine .initial charge was 150rs and for two it is 300 and for 4 stones it was 500 . Unfortunately we paid the amount and left anjuna wothout enjoying
    Ear cleaning bitches out the fuck yu

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