Fake antiques and souvenirs scam

Tunisisa-fake-antiques-scamFake antiques and souvenirs are a problem in almost every popular tourist destination, especially in the Arab world (also check our Marrakesh fake antiques scam), as these countries are known for their centuries-old heritage and culture, and many tourists would love to take home a piece of antique like pottery, Persian rugs or jewelry, but they’re unqualified to identify a genuine artifact from a cheap knock-off that’s been manipulated to look centuries old.

In the medinas in most of Tunisia’s main tourist destinations, you should be careful when buying antiques, jewelry and souvenirs. Especially when the price seems too low to be true, and when the salesperson is very pushy, your alarm bells should start ringing. For example, brand-new ceramic pottery can be treated with a chemical substance to make it look like it’s hundreds of years old, and a few cracks and chips help to convince the unsuspecting tourist even more about the authenticity of this antique piece of pottery.

And in order to make brand new Persian rugs appear centuries old, they can be rubbed with olive oil and then left hanging in the scorching sun for a number of days. Using a pair of scissors to slightly damage the rugs before they are offered for sale is another strategy to fool a naive potential buyer into believing the rugs have been handcrafted by artisans a few centuries ago.

When buying jewelry, remember that in Tunisia it’s actually illegal to sell jewelry without a certificate of authenticity. So always ask for this certificate and if the seller is reluctant to show it to you, kindly thank him, decline the offer and walk away. And if he starts to lower the price even further, don’t let a bargain deal convince you to walk away with fake antiques. No matter how cheap it may seem, you are guaranteed to be overcharged by a large margin.

Find experiences from real victims or post your own story in our Soussa, Hammamet and Tunisia Tourist Scams Forum.

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