Like any other country, Fiji has its fair share of scammers who try to take advantage of unsuspecting victims. One of the most common scams is the short change scam, and it’s important to be aware of it so you don’t fall victim to it.
The Short Change Scam
One such example happened at the Nadi McDonald’s drive-thru, where a customer paid for a $15 order with a $100 bill and received change for a $50 bill. The cashier claimed that the customer only gave him a $50 bill, even though the receipt clearly showed a $100 bill. The scammer’s hope was that the customer would leave before noticing the “mistake.” However, the customer caught the scam and had to work hard to get the correct change back.
This type of scam often targets tourists who are not familiar with the currency or are in a hurry. Scammers rely on the victim not noticing the “mistake” until it’s too late. It’s essential to check your change carefully before leaving the premises to avoid falling victim to this scam.
Another example of the short change scam happened at a local shop where the customer handed over a $20 bill for a $7.50 order and received only $6.50 in change. This type of scam can be frustrating, especially if it happens repeatedly.
To avoid falling victim to the short change scam, be aware of the currency and double-check the change before leaving the premises. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you notice a mistake, and always count your change before walking away. By being vigilant, you can protect yourself from scammers and enjoy your time in Fiji without worrying about getting ripped off.
Fiji is no stranger to scams, and unfortunately, many tourists fall victim to them. In this article, we’ll discuss two common scams that you should be aware of to avoid being tricked during your visit to Fiji.
The Ripoff Souvenir Sellers
When you’re in Fiji, be cautious of souvenir sellers who may try to scam you. They are quite common in tourist areas, and even in Nadi. Just recently, one seller tried to approach me, but I gave a stern response in Fijian, and he soon realized I wasn’t an easy target. However, there are times when these sellers can be very persistent, and it’s best to be wary. If you decide to give in and buy from them, you may end up with low-quality souvenirs that are overpriced. So, it’s important to keep your guard up and not be fooled by their tactics.
How This Scam Works
While strolling down the main street in Fiji, you may come across friendly locals who greet you with a warm “BULA!” and inquire about your holiday and where you are from. This is a common tactic used by souvenir sellers to engage tourists and ultimately sell their overpriced and low-quality products.
The best approach to avoid falling for this scam is to not engage with them at all. Keep walking or politely excuse yourself by saying you are in a hurry. Otherwise, the scammers will try to pressure you into buying their souvenirs, and you may end up with a pile of junk you don’t need.
Even if you decide to entertain the conversation, be prepared to withstand a lot of pressure. The scammers will use various tactics to make you feel obligated to buy their products. However, if you have the willpower, you can walk away without making a purchase.
In my personal experience, I went along with one seller just to see how much pressure they apply to tourists, and it was a lot. Even after telling them that I was not a tourist and did not want to buy souvenirs, they continued to insist. So, be aware of this scam and don’t let the pressure get to you.
Step One: Getting the Victim Back to the Shop
In Fiji, tourists are often targeted by souvenir sellers who use various tactics to scam them. One common approach is to engage with them on the street, asking about their holiday and where they come from. Once you stop to chat, the scam begins. The seller will try to convince you to visit their shop, where they’ll start the “kava ceremony” to make you feel obligated to purchase something.
I had a personal experience with this scam where I was persuaded to go back to the seller’s shop. Once inside, they offered me a kava ceremony, and I was then invited to look at what they had for sale. When I made it clear that I wasn’t interested in buying anything, they started piling on the guilt, telling me about the quality of the souvenirs and how the proceeds help their village.
Step Two: Piling on the Guilt
Despite my refusals, the seller became overbearing and intimidating. They insisted on a “small donation,” and the pressure continued until I finally gave them some change and left as soon as I could. These types of interactions leave a sour taste in the mouth for tourists who come to Fiji looking for a pleasant experience.
To avoid falling victim to this scam, it’s best to ignore or politely decline any invitations from souvenir sellers on the street. If you do want to buy souvenirs, head to the market just off the main street or check out “Jacks of Fiji,” where you can find fair-priced items without the pressure and guilt-trips.
Remember, it’s essential to keep your guard up when traveling, and if you suspect someone is trying to scam you, don’t hesitate to walk away.