Fake smartphone scam

In many cities around the world counterfeit luxury brand merchandise is sold on the streets to unsuspecting tourists looking for a great deal. Perfumes, jeans, cigarettes and similar goods are the most popular items to reproduce cheaply and are easily sold by street vendors.

Kuala_Lumpur-Fake_Samsung-scam-tourist-scamsBut in Kuala Lumpur, a new trend has arisen: fake Samsung smartphones and similar high-end electronic devices. Especially around the Petronas Twin Towers and outside the adjoining Suria KLCC shopping mall you will be offered smartphones for half price or even a third of the price at the official Samsung shop inside the mall. They may look genuine at first glance, from the basic operation of the phone when the street vendor shows it to the box it comes in, and even the sticker on the battery showing “Made in South Korea”, but as always: if the price seems too cheap to be true, walk away. If you pay close attention to the short demonstration the scammer will give you, you will see that the operation is somewhat similar to the original smartphone, but also slightly different in some aspects. Also, some of the graphics and icons are slightly different than the original and the phone will react slower to user input.

Instead, they are cheap Chinese knock-offs that can barely be used to make calls, have no wireless internet connectivity and no WiFi, making them useless as a “smart”phone. Unfortunately you won’t find out until the swindler is long gone.

Kuala_Lumpur-Kuala_Lumpur-Fake_Samsung-ripoff-tourist-scamsBut there’s another very alarming aspect to this scam, and one that seems very strange considering the damage this could do to such a powerful multinational company like Samsung. At the Kota Raya shopping center, not far from China Town in Kuala Lumpur, you will see official-looking Samsung dealers offering discounted smartphones and other electronic devices, but these shops are not authorized Samsung dealers and are selling the same fake merchandise as described above. The police are more than likely being paid off to keep them in business, so don’t fall for a deal that’s too good to be true. If you really want to buy a smartphone while traveling, only buy at the authorized dealers in the well-known shopping malls, and you will find that the prices are similar to those in the rest of the (Western) world.

At the moment, Samsung smartphones are the most popular merchandise on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, but anything else that’s offered by street vendors at a price that’s too low to be true is guaranteed to be fake.

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