Turkiye: Over 40 charged for defrauding tourists in Istanbul


In a major crackdown on tourist scams in Istanbul, 46 suspects face up to 762 years in prison for overcharging and even assaulting foreign tourists at local restaurants and nightclubs.

An ongoing investigation in Istanbul has led to dozens facing charges for allegedly scamming foreign tourists in the food and beverage sector. These individuals, including 26 who were arrested, have been accused of operating a scheme that involved overcharging tourists and physically assaulting those who refused to pay exorbitant bills.

The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office prepared an indictment charging the suspects with a range of crimes including “establishing an organization with the aim of committing a crime” and other serious offenses. If convicted, the defendants could face sentences ranging from 21 to 762 years in prison.

The indictment detailed a sophisticated scheme operating in popular tourist areas such as Taksim and Karaköy. Once the tourists were seated, hostesses would engage them in conversation to gauge their financial status and the duration of their stay. This information was used to determine how much to inflate the bill by charging higher fees to tourists nearing the end of their visit.

When tourists tried to leave, they were presented with exorbitant bills. If they objected, they faced threats, intimidation and sometimes physical violence until they paid.

Prosecutor’s Office referenced the 2012 documentary “Scam City Istanbul” by Conor Woodman, to underline the impact of such scams on Türkiye’s tourism industry. The documentary showcased similar fraudulent activities in Istanbul, demonstrating the methods used to defraud tourists and the negative image these activities projected internationally.

The prosecutor emphasized that these criminal organizations not only defraud tourists but also severely damage the country’s tourism sector and international reputation.__Daily Hurriyet