7 Travel Scams of Morocco and How to Avoid Them

The Markets of Essaouira, Morocco
The Markets of Essaouira, Morocco

In the country of Morocco you will find tons of travel scams. Luckily for you, here’s the Top 7 Travel Scams of Morocco and How to Avoid Them. Be safe!!!

A scam is most commonly defined as a fraudulent scheme made by a dishonest individual in order to rob money from a clueless victim.

The saddest part is that most of the victims don’t realize they have been scammed until someone tells them about the ridiculous price they paid for a product or service.

In the souks of Morocco’s top touristy cities you will find tons of travel scams made by a few dishonest Moroccans who try to befriend you only to stab you in the back at the slightest chance.

Luckily for you, here’s a handy guide on how to avoid them all and yes, a foolproof method to actually scam the scam artists.

Be safe and enjoy!

The Best Things to Do and See in Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen, the 50 Shades of Blue

Travel Scams of Morocco #01: The fake nice guy scam

Imagine the following scenario: There is a frail old lady trying to cross the street. Suddenly, a young gentleman helps her and afterwards, demand a ridiculous high sum of money from her. Obviously, she feels insulted and refuses.

Then, the young gentleman starts to be verbally aggressive as he threatens to physically harm the old lady. In any average country, the police would immediately arrive to arrest the young criminal…but not in Morocco.

In Morocco it is perfectly normal for young men with no work nor studies to wait in the souks and prey on lost tourists. They offer to help you reach your destination and once you’re there, they demand a payment of 20 to 50 DH (2 to 5 euros) for the 5 minutes it took them to help you out.

Of course, the average minimum wage in Morocco is 100DH (10 euros) for 8 hours of work and these young fellows want to get half of it in only a few minutes.

How to avoid it: Only ask help for people inside the shops and for traffic/police officers. They are honest hard-working people who have no need to be pushy and harass tourists.

If there’s only unemployed youths around, just ask for directions but insist that you don’t need them to guide you. And even if they do, just remember that you’re not obliged to give money for a service you did not request in the first place.

Trying out the spices of Morocco
Trying out the spices of Morocco

Travel Scams of Morocco #02: The obnoxious henna women

In Jemna El-Fna (or should we call it Jemna El-Scam?), the main square of Marrakech, you will find obnoxious overweight ladies who will try to use their henna ink syringe on your hand without you noticing it and kindly offer to mix their mistake by giving you a full henna hand tattoo. Results and quality may vary but on general it will be a low-quality one.

The catch? After they’re done they will ask you for sums of 100DH (10 euros) for the few minutes it took them to perform the task. And no, they won’t care if you liked the end result or not.

How to avoid it: Be suspicious of covered women that try to approach you on Jemna El-Fna. And even when it’s too late, just offer to pay in coins (no more than 10DH is a fair price) if you liked the tattoo or simply walk away if you didn’t. Remember: you’re not obliged to give money for a service you did not request in the first place.

The Henna Scam of Morocco
The Henna Scam of Morocco

Travel Scams of Morocco #03: The hidden price restaurant menu

This scam comes in two different versions: The most common one is for waiters to lie to you about complimentary juice and bread being included in the meal only for you to be charged at the end for it. The second variation involves two different menus, each one with different prices.

When you first arrive you are presented with a menu with normal prices and once it’s time to pay, the prices are elevated. Once you ask to see the menu again, it is a different one with the new inflated prices and you have no other choice than to pay up…or do you?

How to avoid it: Don’t pay for the extra. Seriously, the police already knows about this particular scam so the restaurant will never file a report against you for not paying their scam prices. Just pay what you consider is fair and walk away. And no, don’t leave a tip!

The Man of Wonders at Essaouira
The Man of Wonders at Essaouira

Travel Scams of Morocco #04: The abusive taxi drivers

In Morocco it is normal to find unlicensed taxi drivers but even those with a license will try to scam you out of your hard-earned money as long as they can get away with it. In Marrakech it’s against the law not to turn on the taximeter and yet, most taxi drivers will do their best to negotiate a price with you and will refuse to turn on the meter.

Things come to a boiling point when taxi drivers demand an extra “baksheesh” (tip money) even after being rude and offering a sub-par service. The worst part? They will constantly harass you until you give in. And here’s where my tip about keeping foreign coins comes in handy.

How to avoid it: Taxi drivers are probably the best example of the local/foreigner apartheid that exists in some nations of the world and that’s why those are the ones that deserve no sympathy from me. What I recommend you is to actually pay them with foreign coins and scam them by lying about their value. Can you believe that a Marrakech dishonest driver actually believed that a 10 pesos Mexican coin (real value about 0.50 euros) was actually worth 5 euros?

The Taxi Driver Scam of Morocco
The Taxi Driver Scam of Morocco

Travel Scams of Morocco #05: The Guilt Trip Salesmen

All tours (both official and unofficial) will undoubtedly stop at either a carpet factory or a tannery where the owners will delight you with hospitality and give you free mint tea (or Berber Whiskey as they call it). Then they will give you a demonstration of how the carpets/leather items are made.

Eventually they will use hard-sell tactics, including fake tales about how impoverished their families are, in order to make you buy their items. The problem? They are extremely overpriced and the quality is sometimes even sub-par from the ones you can buy at the souks despite their lies about the high-quality of their products.

How to avoid it: Politely decline the mint tea and even if you end up taking it, remember that it was offered to you as a gift and that you have no real obligation of buying something you neither want nor need. Just thank the owner and explain that it is extremely impractical to carry a carpet in your backpack!

The Markets of Essaouira, Morocco
The Markets of Essaouira, Morocco

Travel Scams of Morocco #06: The Beast Masters of Jemna El-Fna

In Marrakech’s main square it is perfectly normal to find people with monkeys and snakes placing them on you by force and then snatching your camera in order to take a photo of you. At first, you seem suspicious since there’s a chance that the beast masters might run away with your camera while they snap the shots. However, the real scam starts when it’s time to pay them.

You see, scam artists have an all-or-nothing mentality that represents a great handicap in their way of doing honest business. Instead of placing a sign saying the price for a photo, they tell you that it’s willing donation. Of course, if you try to donate anything less than 100DH they will start to harass you and throw back your own money at you.

How to avoid it: Just accept their rudeness and move on. If they’re not willing to accept your 20DH, it’s their loss and you should not feel obliged to pay anything more than what you consider fair. After all, negotiation is a two-way street and they told you beforehand that the amount of the donation was up to you. Just walk away and they won’t follow you.

The Beast Men of Marrakesh
The Beast Men of Marrakesh

Travel Scams of Morocco #07: The Horse/Camel Riders

You probably already read my story about the horse ride in Essaouira but even if you haven’t, you should be aware that the sexual harassment in Morocco’s top touristy places is very high and yes, some of those horse/camel riders can also scam you by stranding you in a far away place and demanding double the payment in order to return you to the main city.

The other variable includes over-inflated prices (often reaching 300DH!) for the same service that the locals can obtain for 30DH. This is an immoral pricing policy since it creates an apartheid and division based on nationality and perceived acquisitive power since it encourages service providers to treat foreigners like money signs and not like human beings.

How to avoid it: Besides refusing to ride a horse/camel, your best option is to hold payment until the very end and threaten the rider with calling the authorities (even if your cellphone has no signal!) if he tries to strand you in the middle of nowhere. Most of the time, these guys don’t pay taxes and operate in a legal loophole so the simple mention of the police will make them change their attitude towards you.

Camila the Camel at the Sahara Desert
Camila the Camel at the Sahara Desert

A Foreword on the Travel Scams of Morocco

Yes, I know. Morocco is a developing country with a low-level of literacy and lack of job opportunities which is one of the main causes of why there are so many unemployed uneducated youths waiting in the souks for tourists they can scam. However, as my grandma always said: “It is better to be poor in terms of money than being poor in terms of values”.

It is quite astonishing how highly religious people who pray 5 times a day often forget about their values when it comes to dealing with foreigners, contributing to the local/foreigner apartheid that exists in some countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

Should you be the better man and turn the other cheek or should you denounce the scam artists to the authorities in order to avoid a culture of crime from prevailing?

That is up to you. Personally, I believe that the world needs more schools, not prisons. And yes, you can do your best to educate these scam artists in order to help them remember their way and to differentiate right from wrong.

Last but not least, don’t forget to use our Booking.com Affiliate Link of Wonders for making hotel reservations.

Same price for you and a small pocket money commission for this website of yours.

Sweet deal, uh?

Travel Scams of Morocco
Honorable men like him work for 8 hours in the scorching heat of Morocco for only 70DH per day. It is better to be honest than to be rich

Besides scamming the scam artists in order to teach them a lesson in morality, I recommend you to say the following phrase to them “Jazakum Allahu Khairan”. It means “May Allah reward you” and trust me, most of them will look at you with a face of forgiveness since you just reminded them that they are being untrue to their beliefs by engaging in illicit actions.

Scam artists are not bad people, they are just ordinary folks like you and I that have somehow lost their way in life. Don’t hate them, just pity them. I love Morocco and that’s why I want Morocco to improve.

And I’m sure most Moroccans feel the same way since it’s just a few bad seeds the ones that give the entire population a bad image abroad. It’s time to change that and the best way to start is by making people aware of the many scams that take place in this amazing country.

Will you help me spread the word?

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43 Comments

  • Great Tips! Definitely something to keep in mind as I love markets and can’t wait to visit Morocco. BTW I laughed out loud at your foreign money story :)

  • I have met henna lady but luckily I was not asked to pay, been approach by the carpet seller, his first price was 5000euro, just laughed and walked away, I really think it is not that difficult to avoid such situations when you are jaded tourist, but if it is your first trip it is good to have such posts pointing so you are prepared.

  • I’ve encountered scam number 3 before …. but luckily none of these others! Morocco sure seems like a whirlwind of an experience.

  • Thanks for these! I can’t wait to go to Morrocco, but know you have to keep your wits about you. We were scammed pretty badly in Italy through similar schemes. Won’t be happening again!

  • Good tips! It’s always a good idea to be aware of potential scams! Would love to visit Morrocco–I’ll have to keep these in mind for when we visit.

  • Very useful posts! It’s always good to read tips likes this before travelling to a country. I’ll definitely keep this post in mind when travelling to Morocco! :D Thanks!

  • Great tips! No matter where you travel there are always a few bad seeds looking the take your money.

  • I do not plan on riding on a camel in Morocco after your story! I’m bookmarking this page for the next time I head there.

  • I always worry when people tell me they’re travelling to Morocco, having lived in the Canary Islands for several years, I know tons of Moroccan’s and even to this day one of my best friends is Moroccan and he is so embarrassed when he hears these stories, he says its why he left Morocco. He says it embarrasses him because he knows it all to be only to true :(

  • Great tips! Sad how a whole country acquires bad names for just a few. But this is true for many countries. Bookmarking this page for reference before visiting Morocco.

  • Cool post Raphael! I’ve always found scammers kind of funny and luckily I’ve never been intimidated by them. I’m sure this post will help many travellers!

  • This is an awesome post for anyone planning a visit to Morocco! I had to laugh when I read about the two different menu approach. The things that folks think about in order to rip off the next tourist…where will it ever end!

    • My husband and I were in Hong Kong and we got different menus as well. One with slightly higher price than the other.

      We are both Chinese, so they assumed we can read the characters. (We speak it, can read some characters, but not all)

      Anyway, when we got the menu, it was all in Chinese. So I asked for an English menu, and when we received it, I said, why are these prices more than the other menu. The waitress replied, it is more because it is a bigger portion.

      The portion we got was slightly bigger… so it does “justify” the price difference.

      Anyway, just wanted to note, that Morocco isn’t the only place with different price menus. I believe where there is a tourist area, you will find a tourist menu (higher prices) and a local menu (cheaper prices).

  • Very nice list and quite useful, too!

    I’ve heard of most of the scams and never fell for them till now, luckily. Always managed to avoid them before money was demanded.

    We experienced the two menus scam in Prague – we ordered hot wine after seeing the menu (overpriced, but still within reasonable ranges), then when the check came, the price was 3 times higher. We demanded to see the menu, telling the waiter he made a mistake. The menu he gave us then had the higher prices. We calmly but loudly said we saw another menu before we ordered and declared we weren’t paying the scam price.

    A manager came out and said it was a mistake, afterwards presented us with the correct check. We paid and left, no shouting or drama, just an unpleasant memory.

    It’s sad, though, how such experiences tend to spoil otherwise a nice trip.

  • Minimum wage is 100 Dh come on bro who you kidding bro.? Not even close to that amount . I agree about the rest and i m disgusted about it too. But lack of jobs is what causing all this scaming . Most of them are not happy doing that but if they don’t it they will starve to death any ways thanks for the tips because i feel bad for tourists who get scammed .

  • “It is better to be poor in terms of values than being poor in terms of money”
    – Your inspiring quote is completely the wrong way around.

  • Just back from Marrakesh and met with almost all of those scams. Their relentlessness became quite distressing after few days. Rip off after rip off.

  • Great advice and as I Muslim I also felt so upset as they are going against ther teachings and acting so immoral. In our Koran it specifically says to treat the wayfarer well thus peehaps it’s a middle eastern custom to hassle foreigners and rip them off! It became so tiresome after a while and I didn’t trust anyone even if they were genuine people. It makes no difference to them even if you are Muslim as they lied and said they would take any money but then in a dark alley demanded 300 dirhams!! Which obviously I said no and gave change which he was not happy with. I felt these people ruined the trip and I certainly have no desire to travel there again. I will certainly be writing to the Moroccan tourist board as they are planning to bring more tourists in particular the Chinese. God help them!!

    • That’s horrible to say. Life is very difficult over there. In thier eyes they are doing what they feel they have to, to be able to survive. In United States, we have poor people. But compared to the poor in Morocco our poor are wealthy. I have never seen such as I have in Morocco. It break my heart each time I go. Each time you put a hot spoonful of food in your mouth, think of the people who get to put nothing and think about what Allah says and what you say. I’m not judging. Allah tells us not to judge. I am just saying to think about your words.

  • Some excellent tips for avoiding the ever present tourist scammers when traveling. I hope to visit Morocco one day very soon and will certainly keep an eye out for these types of common scams!

  • Haha… I have been to Morocco three times… My husband is Moroccan and I am American. They have even accused my husband of being a tourist because of me and the taxi drivers, AND everyone charge my husband unbelievable prices everywhere we go. It gets to the point that when we go to shops and hotels, I have to wait outside for him to get the price of things, then I get to go inside. Horse rides, I have been groped on the ankles (ugh), I have seen that the taxi drivers “do not give up” and are relentless. Maybe because my family are Moroccan IDK. But everything you mentioned above is fact. lol But all the same I love Morocco. I wish it would change. I wish the children and youth have more of a chance at a future. It’s gut wrenching and sad. I try to do whatever I can each time I go.

  • Just wanting to warn foreign travelling to morocco about a tour guide called Abdelaziz Baballah who will profess he loves you and lead you into a web of lies about money problems and borrow money from you because he can as you. He will promise to return the month in a few months but you not see the money again and he will attempt to cut relations with you before he has paid you back. Please do not go here with him. He runs a tour company with his friends called Morocco Sun Tours. Please do not be fooled by these charlatans. He conned me out of a lot of money. Promised to return it then said he didn’t want to talk to me again.

    Please stay away from Morocco Sun Tours and Abdelaziz Baballah.

    Have pic of him if anyone would to see what he looks like and he is not all that lol.
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  • I have met henna lady but luckily I was not asked to pay, been approach by the carpet seller, his first price was 4000euro, I really think it is not that difficult to avoid such situations when you are jaded tourist, but if it is your first trip it is good to have such posts pointing so you are prepared.

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