Getting Scammed in Delhi

Last Updated on June 7, 2023 by Christine Kaaloa

pickpockets beware
Getting Scammed in Delhi: Monday, Sept 23, 2008: Delhi


You may encounter scams in India. But if you are traveling Delhi, beware of delhi scams.

Before I tell you a story about getting scammed in Delhi, I want to share this observation.

Three is an unlucky number.

I’m superstitious. I believe the second day after your arrival sets the tone of the trip. Today is that second day of my India trip.There’s an uncomfortable energy. I’d barely met Regina. She  left early to go to Agra. Now our balanced foursome collapses into an unequal threesome. In travel relationships, three is an unlucky number.

Is the working class in India really that poor?

I awoke early and went down to our hotel lobby to make some inquiries. An hotel employee jumped up from his bed, a blanket on the lobby floor. Apparently some of the workers were just getting up too. It was a bit of a shock that the hotel employees don’t have homes to go back to. You’ll also see workers making their beds on rooftops and in the streets. You can’t help but feel badly for them. Are these migrant workers or are the working class in India really that poor?

indian beds
Indian beds inside my Hotel Grand Godwin lobby
indian beds
The rooftop of another hotel. Good thing it’s not monsoon season.

Getting Scammed in Delhi

There are scams in India travelers must watch out for. A popular scam in India is to be taken to a scam tour agency and signing up for an overpriced tour. It is one of the popular Delhi scams.

This was my first time experiencing it.

If you ask an Indian person what they think of Delhi, one of the first things that comes to mind is that it’s a city of scams and cheaters. Being our first time in India, we didn’t know this…

We started off wanting to take a Delhi walking tour given by a children’s community center.  En route to finding the community center, Margaret and Dan got distracted by a cabbie wanting to take us to the India Tourist Center.

Not sure why they wanted to follow him.  There are so many distractions around for me to concentrate and understand what they were trying to do. But when two go, the third wheel has to follow.

We were whisked off to a tourist agency center, hidden in the shabby surroundings of an alley in Connaught Place.

There, we we were sold another version of our itinerary.

The one difference?

That we’d have a driver and our own car over having to take train. Also, we’d be using their ‘recommended hotels’ over the ones we researched and booked.


india tour agency scams

Why budget travelers should never travel with non-budget travelers

I don’t want to be on a tour.

I never wanted driver.

I wanted to see India, the way locals see it.

But Dan prefered the safety of a white-washed tour to roughing it. Dan isn’t a budget kind of guy and having him on our trip worried me. Although he’s a nice guy and I like his personality.  Margaret, Regina and myself were all hoping to be budget travelers on this trip.

Pre-trip,  Margaret and I quarreled about how having someone with higher expectations join our group, might force us all to spend more.

Dan wanted to stay at mid-level hotels. Nice, clean, Ramada Inn types, at the least.

I didn’t want to spend more. We labored over that itinerary so we wouldn’t have to.

My friendship with Margaret, was already on probation and I was now outnumbered.

Rather than fight this tour idea- I stupidly agreed.

The tour cost $518.

That’s a hell lot more than I expected to be spending for India for a two-week backpacking tour.  A lot for me to agree to for the sake of group harmony.

I didn’t like it.


What is traveler etiquette?

This brings me to Margaret’s friend, Regina.

How will she react when Margaret tells her we’re now on a tour?  Regina is on a budget also and it’s unfair for her not to have a say in the matter. It leaves her without  options.
Either … 1) to pay money to join us or 2) be left to fend for herself.

Margaret and Dan wanted to wait before springing the news on her. Their plan was to tell her the next day in Jaipur!

If we tell her tonight, she’s got a small window of time to scramble on the internet or prepare backups.

They think they’re being smart in “avoiding conflict”.  And Dan whom we’ve not heard from all these months when Margaret and I were researching and planning our itinerary, has suddenly developed a voice to how we should deal with things on this trip.


I’m too exhausted and upset to fight. This is a red flag. An omen.

If things continue like this, will I be left to fend for myself?

This is only my second day in Delhi and it was taking a turn against the way I planned it.

Tomorrow we drive off to Jaipur. Our driver, will be meeting us at 6am tomorrow, so tonight I should get some rest.

What scams in India have you heard about? Ever experienced Delhi scams?

<< Namaste Delhi!  I can tell you’re gonna give me culture shock.

Top 5 Things to do in Jaipur and the Dangers of Driving on an Indian Highway  >>

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