Common Expat Scams to Beware of (Part Two)
While you’re often safe abroad it pays to be aware of possible risks. Scammers exist in every nation and they may see a naive expat as an easy target. Say to yourself; if it looks too good to be true, then it is too good to be true.
Rental car scam
Some dodgy rental car companies will allow you to rent a car and will quite happily take your card details, but on return of the vehicle they will demand expenses for so-called ‘damages’. When you refuse to pay the company (who already has your card details) it will take the damages money from your account. A victim can lose thousands if not careful. To avoid this scam you should always use a reputable hire car company and make sure to take photographs of the vehicle when you first receive it.
As we mentioned in a previous blog post Visa scams are pretty rife in the expat industry. The scam typically sees the scammer contact expats offering to assist them with their visa applications. Most of them are not qualified to do so and either once the application process has finished or at the start they will demand a substantial fee and extra payments for helping. To avoid this scam do not use the services of people you do not know, you will be safer if you do the visa application yourself or if needed use the assistance of a reputable company.
The ‘pickup’ or molest scam
The story behind these scams tends to be the same and they are always aimed at men. Typically Mr Expat goes out for a drink, goes clubbing etc.., gets drunk and accepts the advances of a pretty woman who will them either snuggle up with them or dance with them. Not long afterwards the man will be confronted by a group of local men who will accuse him (normally) of molestation. Because Mr Expat is drunk he will not have a clear recollection of the incident and will try to defuse the situation by giving money to the woman rather than take the issue to the police or courts. The occurrences of this scam have been steadily increasing in Asia, most notably in China and Singapore.
Boiler room scam
These types of scams are very popular with fraudsters all over the world and can bankrupt expats if they’re not careful. The most common form of boiler room scams goes as follows; You’re cold called, out of the blue, usually by a fellow countryman who is probably over-friendly…very quickly you’re lulled into a false sense of security by this fraudster who claims to have an exciting investment opportunity for you. The scam merchant in question is flogging off worthless shares (sometimes they’re selling you non-existent shares) and they explain in great detail how these shares are about to make a massive leap in terms of their value which of course they won’t and the scammer will disappear with your money.
The best way to avoid these scams is to a) never ever buy shares from someone over the phone and b) find out whether your details are listed somewhere and gets them removed.
There are plenty of scams out there willing to take your money and some unscrupulous insurance companies find it way to easy to get away with it when the victim is living in another country. Many expats try to lower the cost of their move by trying to find the cheapest insurance money can buy. This reckless action however can be life ruining when you find out that seemingly perfect and cheap insurance cover doesn’t cover for a particular emergency or the deductible is extreme. A number of expats have been made broke by such circumstances. The best advice that we can offer is, always read the small print and always do your research. There are many phony insurance companies around so ensure you go with a reputable company.