Fake cigars scam

Havana-Cuba-fake-cigars-ripoff-tourist-scamsCuba is famous all over the world for its cigars, they are the pride and joy of the country and the Cubans are not afraid to show it. With well-known and respected brands like Cohiba, Romeo y Julieta and Montechristo, Havana is the capital of the cigar industry and every tourist would love to take a box of Cuban cigars home as a souvenir. As the real cigars in the official shops are just as expensive as they are in other parts of the world, that thought often gets dismissed quickly, except by the real connoisseurs. However, in Havana a cigar is never far away and a lot of locals try to earn some extra pocket cash from the tourists by selling cigars secretly from their homes.

They’ll find a spot close to the busy tourist areas and ask every tourist passing by if they want to buy some real Cuban cigars for a good price. They’ll say that Cubans are allowed to operate within cigar “Cooperativa” which means they can sell the cigars for a better price. These cooperatives don’t exist and are made up to fool tourists. Of course, plenty of people will bite and follow the local to a private residence, where they’re offered a wide selection of cigars from all the famous brands for prices of about a third of what you’d pay for the real thing.

Havana-Cuba-fake-cigars-scam-tourist-ripoffsHowever, these cigars are all counterfeit, including the branding on the box and the cigar band. Not only the branding is fake, the cigars themselves are fake as well, but you won’t find out until you try to light one up. Then you’ll notice it won’t stay alight for more than a few seconds, making it unsmokeable. This is because the fake cigars are not made of entire tobacco leaves, but from the remains after the production of the real cigars. These fake ones are also called “banana leaf cigars”. You can test them on location by unrolling the wrapper leaf and checking the inside. If the cigar falls apart into tobacco leaf shrapnel, walk away as they’ve just tried to scam you. As always: if the price is too good to be true, it probably is.

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