Scams in Hong Kong That Tourists Should Look Out For
Hong Kong/ Nomads/ Explore

HK101: Look Out for These Scams in Hong Kong

HK101 Look Out for These Scams in Hong Kong Header Photo by Website/Unsplash

Hong Kong is a treasure trove of unique travel experiences, holding a top spot on many travellers’ list of “places to visit.” Known as a finance hub but celebrated for its lush mountains and gorgeous sea-faring waters, Hong Kong is an electrifying fusion of East and West that leave visitors spellbound. From its bustling metropolis to well-preserved buildings from a bygone era, there are many reasons to fall in love with Hong Kong.

But all untrodden lands come with the risk of danger, which first-time travellers should be wary of. Check out and take note of the following list of common scams in Hong Kong before you plan your trip. Stay safe, and happy travelling!

Common Scams in Hong Kong

Charity Scams

Charity Scams
Website/Unsplash

Charity scams are incredibly common across the world, taking advantage of the kindness of well-meaning strangers. Unfortunately, Hong Kong is not immune to these kinds of ruses, where unsuspecting victims are approached for a one-time cash donation towards an unheard-of charity. Make sure to do your due diligence before donating, as most legitimate charities in Hong Kong will prioritise raising awareness over monetary donations.

If you suspect that you are being targeted by a sham charity, move like a local and ignore, ignore, ignore.

Deaf-mute Gang

Deaf-mute Gang
Website/Unsplash

In recent years, the “deaf-mute” scams are becoming increasingly popular – with hawkers approaching the victim with a card that indicates that the seller is a deaf-mute person and asks you to purchase small pens or cheap keychains for inflated prices out of goodwill. Not only does this harm any legitimate fundraising efforts for marginalised communities, but it also soils the reputation of genuine deaf-mute persons.

If you find yourself targeted by members of the deaf-mute gang, stand your ground and decline buying any of their products. If you happen to know any sign language, now would be a good time to use it!

Fake Monks

Fake Monks
The West Australian

You might come across a few monks during your stay, but some of them may not be practicing Buddhism at all, choosing to dabble in the less noble practice of fraud instead. These bald men dress in a monk’s garb, walking around for monetary “alms” or giving “hit-and-run” blessings and soliciting cash afterwards.

A real monk would never aggressively beg for money, so it should be quite easy to identify the fraudsters from real Buddhist practitioners.

Lan Kwai Fong Headband Sellers

Lan Kwai Fong
Website/Unsplash

Hong Kong’s party district, Lan Kwai Fong, is a fairly popular tourist destination for those who enjoy the clubbing scene. While visitors can expect to lose money drinking, getting into clubs, and buying tables, there are some other hidden costs that you might also want to watch out for.

While hiking up the slope to your next party destination, headband sellers may try to force their party accessories on to you, only to demand a highly inflated price after you have accepted their offer. Either avoid these sellers outright and don’t let them give you anything, or politely return the headband or whatever else they have thrusted on you.

Scam Calls of WhatsApp Texts

Scam Calls of WhatsApp Text
Website/Unsplash

Scam calls and scam texts are increasingly common in Hong Kong, with most locals having figured out what to avoid (by avoiding pretty much everything). For tourists, however, there may be some travel-related scams that pose as travel agencies, travel insurance companies, or travel websites. They may even try to enquire about your personal information.

Be sure to double-check with whichever travel companies or hotels you are using and look for their official contact information found on their websites.

Taxi Scams

Taxi Scams
Website/Unsplash

Taxi scams, while not common, still happen occasionally to unsuspecting tourists who know little about the ins and outs of Hong Kong roads. As a rule of thumb, it’s always best to act confident about where you are headed when using the taxi service, so that any ill-intentioned driver might think twice about scamming you.

Try to avoid riding with a taxi driver who claims the “metre is broken,” as they might charge you an exorbitant amount once you’ve reached your destination. It doesn’t hurt to have Google Maps open, to ensure that your driver is taking you through the shortest route possible and isn’t taking you for circles around the block. Before you get into a taxi, look up the standard fare for a good idea on how much you will be spending.

Counterfeit Goods

Counterfeit Goods
Website/Unsplash

While not necessarily a scam and more of a shopping hack, some shoppers might be dismayed in finding out later that their branded luxury bag that sold for HK$250 is made of cheap synthetic leather. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

This typically isn’t an issue for most travellers, as a lot of the counterfeit products and “antique” items are still nice to own for most, despite them being inauthentic goods. With stalls and shops that sell these goods, it’s also a fun opportunity to try and haggle down the prices to see how far you can go.

Fake Tickets

Fake Tickets
Website/Unsplashed

Online ticket scams have surged in the past year alone, with law enforcement agencies reporting over 1,200 cases of online concert ticket scams in the first 10 months of 2023. Online fraudsters falsely claim that international bands and performers will be headlining in Hong Kong, offering them an exclusive chance to buy tickets to see their favourite artists.

Before purchasing a ticket of any kind, make sure to take a pause and research the event organiser, the ticketing website, and the performers’ own social media for legitimacy.

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