Three Delhi Scams That I Fell Victim to

If you arrive in Delhi, or probably any huge city in India, and you stay in a touristy/backpacker’s location, you’ll be a target for certain scams.  I recommend you set aside $50 or so as psychological write off money just in case.   This way the potential trauma will be abated.

Don’t worry.  The cons are not intended to harm you.   They’re only to steal your money.

That said, following are three scams that I fell victim to in Delhi.

SCAM ONE:  As mentioned two posts ago, a beggar, whose name I’ve since learned is Rayna, managed to smoothly rip me off.  She’d asked me to buy milk for her baby.  I had originally thought that I’d spend just a few Rupees on the milk which ended up being a huge container of powdered milk for over 410 Rupees ($9)  Since she got me on that baby milk buying scam, she’s accosted me on several occasions, trying to negotiate more money out of me.

After telling you about her sham in that previous post, I ran into an Indian woman who, like me, is a tourist in India.  This is because she’s lived in London for the past 19 years.  After relating Rayna’s deception, the Indian expat told me that Rayna probably went back to the store and returned the big container of dried milk.  Maybe the man gave her a little bit less than the 410 Rupees I’d paid him.  Thus he made a small profit while she made a sizeable one.  Chances are also that Rayna’s money went to a ring leader.

When I left my abode in Delhiat at 5:45am a couple of mornings ago, I saw her sleeping on a blanket on the side of the road along with a few of her colleagues.  After the fact, the $9 is a write-off. I’m just saddened by her dismal, hopeless existence.  I don’t know if the visual sensation of her bedded down on the side of the dirty Delhi Bazaar road will ever leave my memory bank. 

SCAM TWO: A few days ago I was looking for the International Tourist Bureau at the New Delhi train station.  It’s designed only for tourists and ex-Indian nationals who are visiting. Trains always fill up in India.  The Indian government has designed a quota system for foreigners that usually allows us to get a ticket for a train running the following day.   Upon entering the station and asking where the office was, a decently-dressed man told me:

The office you’re looking for is closed for renovation today sir.  There is a travel agency doing the work for the government today.”

When I seriously and innocently questioned him, he said in a somber tone:

Sir!  They are renovating today!  You need to take a short rickshaw ride to an agency that’s working in place of the government today.”

He put me on a motorized rickshaw and wrote down the address of the agency for the  driver.  Thinking back, I’m sure the rickshaw driver knew the hoax.

The travel agents in Delhi seem to all be out to overcharge, oversell, and lie.  There seems to be thousands of them.  I often wonder:  How do these guys compete with each other? These guys told me that all seats were full for the next two weeks and that I should buy a $400 package deal to Kashmir, which included a flight and three nights on a house boat on a picturesque Himalayan lake.

A man brought me a glass of Chai along with a piece of Afghani bread.

I’m not supposed to show you this but look.”

He showed me the screen.  It displayed that all the seats were full.   I noticed that it said nothing about a tourist quota, that he didn’t even have that option on his screen.   Right then I shockingly realized that these guys are shady.

After the tea and bread I said:

I will take your card and think about it.   Thanks a lot!

I walked back to the station and diligently asked where the Tourist Information Bureau was.   I found it and within 20 minutes had a ticket to Haridwar the following day.  Even though an Indian would not have gotten on that train the next day, there were two spots left to fill the tourist quota.

If it’s any consolation, it’s nice to know that the Indian government is trying to improve travel conditions  for folks who want to visit their unique subcontinent. 

SCAM THREE: Upon getting off a bicycle Rickshaw at New Delhi Railway Station two mornings ago at 6am, a man approached me with a 32GB flash drive in his hand.

Considering I’m only carrying a 2GB drive, my face instantly lit up.  He started me off at 2000 Rupees (over $40).   I was skeptical, but managed to get him down to 350 (about $8).  As you can see, the drive was packaged normally, as if it had been bought in a store.  Before trying the device, I showed it to the guy working in the cyber café where I’m publishing this post now.  He asked what I paid for it.  After telling him he said:

Impossible.  This  costs 3800 Rupees ($80).  This is an imitation.  It probably has 1 GB of space.  And when you save something to it, the data will delete itself.”

I should have known better than to buy electronics from the street.   It would have been so nice for quickly backing up photos and not having to worry about back up space, as my 2 gig drive is almost full.   The guy caught me at the exact right time.  I was exhausted, and in need of a bigger drive.

I was double crossed yet again.  I thought:  I just have to learn the hard way here in India.   At least the second scam only took me for 20 Rupees for the rickshaw ride.  This third one got me for only $8, so althogether, the three scams only got me for about $18.  It was a great learning experience.

–   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –   –

Don’t let this post give you the impression that everyone is gonna scam you here.   Of the one point whatever billion people who live in India, the percentage of scam artists is extremely minuscule.

 If you come to India, now you’ll avoid the three scams above.   Are there other scams in India?  There must be a ton.  Have you experienced or heard of any?  Please feel free to comment below.

 If you like what you’re reading, then do feel free to subscribe to Earthdrifter.  You will then be notified by email every time I publish a new post.


2 responses to this post.

  1. ANNIE: It’s been a bit over a week. It takes time to get used to. I’m enjoying the vegetarian cuisine. Delhi’s a megacity. I stayed too long. But I wanted to give it a chance. Anyway, I’m working my way up north to the Himalayas where it’s a whole different world and a much better climate. So things are getting better. Just think, anyone who’s coming to India or is in India who reads this post can avoid all three of the above scams. There are so many people here and not enough work for all of them so they must create their own work. I feel sympathy for them. I’ve only been scammed out of a little bit of money. As long as it’s small time and not bigtime then there are no worries. 🙂


  2. Posted by Annie on June 19, 2011 at 09:14

    Another interesting post. I’m wondering if you are enjoying this drift. I know you say its an experience and most people are not trying to scam but aren’t you exhausted having to be on guard at all times? Have you done anything fun yet? I hope so! Stay safe and be well! Annie


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