5 Tourist Scams to Avoid This Semester in Australia
Studying abroad is a wonderful experience. Being scammed is not.
If you’ve already applied via IDP to study in Australia, had a successful university application and got everything else sorted – you might probably think: That’s it, right?
Wrong. Based on data gleaned from Travelscams.org, a crowdsourced database of tourist scams, we sieve out some potential scenarios that international students might fall prey to.
Farm job scams
Some of you might plan to work part-time during your semester break and you’ve probably heard about the “riches” some international students and backpackers get from working on a farm.
However, there’s a couple of ways to trick unsuspecting victims, like putting up a fake job listing and demanding an upfront payment. This could be for various reasons such as to secure your spot at the farm or for accommodation, but once the money is sent over, the ad lister vanishes.
Do note that some ads will also lie about providing high pay when there are actually no crops. You’ll end up pulling weeds and vines, and for some, having already paid a sizeable upfront fee.
Pub crawl scams
If you’re studying in Queensland, do take note of pub crawl scams that have been reported in Surfers Paradise.
What happens is that you might encounter touts pushing to sell you discounted tickets that would allow you free entry to all clubs in Surfers Paradise.
While it’s true that such tickets exist, the catch lies in the fact that entry to these clubs is free before 10pm anyway. Anytime after that, your flashy wristband is just that, flashy and just an over-priced accessory.
Scheming tour operators
For students who are in Australia to study English, or if it’s your first time Down Under, beware of rogue tour operators who will take advantage of your unfamiliarity with the country. Some tourists have been charged for having their photos taken in front of landmarks, including the Sydney Opera House.
There was also a case where a group of tourists were charged $100 each to simply walk on Bondi Beach – which is free!
There are different methods that taxi drivers could use to scam customers, with one that is almost universal – claiming to have a broken meter then charging you an inflated fee. The other trick could be to swipe your credit card through an old-fashioned manual machine (claiming that the EFTPOS terminals are faulty) and noting your 3-digit number at the back of the card.
Such scams have reportedly taken place in Darwin, at the Mindil Beach Markets. The ruse is simple: the hair braider will refuse to quote a price until the job is done. Expect to pay around $40 per braid.
Of course, scams take place in every part of the world. It is, however, important to take precaution and be wary of deals that are too good to be true.