Money change scam

Money change rip-offs are something tourists need to beware of almost in any popular tourist destination (also read the Bali money change scam, the Budapest money change scam and the Jamaica money change scam), but in Turkey, the government has helped the scammers by providing them with an excellent opportunity to easily rip off unsuspecting tourists.

Istanbul-money-change-scamIn 2005, after years of devaluation and an increasing number of digits required on the bank notes,  Turkey revalued their national currency, the Turkish Lira. They created a new currency, called “New Lira”, by removing 6 zeroes from what would be called the “Old Lira” from then on. This means that the old currency is worth one millionth of the new currency. The old currency remained in circulation for a year, until the end of 2005, but because of its low value, most of this money was never returned to the banks and are currently used to rip off unknowing tourists, who are unaware of the existence of the “Old Lira”, let alone that they can spot the difference when changing money on the streets of Istanbul.

Also read: Lost over 100 Euro by changing to worthless old Lira

Fraudulent money changers approach tourists with an offer to change money at an attractive rate. The tourists are encouraged to change their Euro’s, Dollars or whichever currency into Turkish Lira, but are then given back the “Old Lira” which is worth less than the paper it is printed on. These tourists, expecting a great deal on their currency exchange, are scammed out of their holiday cash.

Always change your money at an official money change office, or your hotel reception. Or even better: just withdraw cash directly from your bank account at an ATM. Never agree to change money with someone who has approached you on the streets, trying to lure you in by offering an implausible high exchange rate. Tourists won’t be able to see the differences between old Lira and new Lira at first glance, and before they find out they have been played, the scammer has already disappeared into the crowds.

Find experiences from real victims or post your own story in our Istanbul and Turkey Tourist Scams Forum.

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