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Warning - La Romana airport scam


#1

We (3 couples) flew out of La Romana airport on Monday, Feb. 12, and I’m sorry to report that the “distract and snatch” scam is still alive and well there.

Before we headed for the airport, I warned everyone to be vigilant at the airport and to watch out for 2 things in particular (based on the knowledge I gained on this site) - watch for them altering the weight of your luggage (e.g. resting their foot on the scale) and then charging for overweight; and watch for security guys distracting you and then helping themselves to your money from your bag.

We all weighed our luggage at the gym at the resort before we went. When we got to the airport the scales were not working properly and they couldn’t weigh any of the bags, so we had no problem with overweight luggage charges. Then it was time to go through the security check.

My husband and I went through first. They didn’t give his carry-on bag a second glance. They looked through mine but were very careful to keep their hands in clear view as they removed items, looked at them and then put them back into the bag. The second couple went through - once again they paid no attention to the man’s bag, but went through the lady’s bag, again keeping their hands in plain view.

Third couple - again, no attention at all to the man’s carry-on. Then they looked into the lady’s bag and found a bag of peppermints. This caused a commotion as the security guy held them up, asked what they were, called over a supervisor and handed the mints to him. Of course all eyes were on the supervisor as we tried to explain that they were just peppermints and that they could keep them if they were causing a problem. I happened to glance back at the original security guy and found that he had both of his hands deep in the lady’s carry-on bag. I walked over and very pointedly looked inside the bag - his hands came flying out and up over his head. After a moment he looked back in the bag and, very surprised, he reached in and removed her wallet. It is a tri-fold wallet with a snap closure. It was open, un-folded and there were 5 Canadian $20’s halfway out of the wallet!! “Oh, senora - you fix” and he handed the wallet to her. We were all stunned, and they hurried us though security after that. No action from the supervisor (no surprise).

I was very sorry that this happened, but very glad that I caught him in the act. It was this couple’s first visit to DR (our sixth visit) and it has totally turned them off ever returning - such a shame. Until that point we had all had a perfect vacation.

I am posting this as a reminder to always stay alert. It is a shame, but it is also a fact of life that things like this may happen in such a lovely country.

Do you think there is any point in reporting this incident to the Dominican Republic embassy, or anyone else?


#2

Certainly report it with your complete story to

Luis Kalaff, Minister Counsellor, Economic and Tourism Affairs.
lkalaff@drembassy.org


#3

well , if that turned them off they better never fly in and out of pearson as there was a big theft ring discovered there not to long ago(taking stuff right out of checked luggage to sell elsewhere)


#4

This type of scam has been going on for years now and probably will go on for many more. One should always be observant of their surroundings and never take their eyes of their valuables :sunglasses:


#5

One of the many reasons that we never leave cash in our carry-ons. We split the money between the two of us and carry it in our pockets.


#6

Good post.


#7

Thanks for the information Maryka. I think many of us let our guard down at the end of our vacation when we are nice and relaxed after a week or 2 in the DR. Your post reminds people to be alert and aware of their surroundings when in public places.


#8

Its stories like this that almost make me want to change my vacation, but, I guess I will just have to be . . . vigilant. I got hit with the luggage this last year for $30…Shame on you American Airlines check-in personnel. I am not sure how to handle the money thing going thru security. I guess I will make sure I know EXACTLY how much cash I have and count it as soon as I get thru the security check. If I dont have too much cash left (hopefully!!!) I will fold it and put it in my jeans pocket.

One problem at ALL airports, is that you and your handbag/carryon dont always go thru “the machine” at the same time.


#9

get a money belt, they are only a few dollars at wal mart


#10

Thanks all for your replies. I will do as Wud suggests and report it to the DR embassy, letting them know that I’ve posted it on this web site. I’ll let you know if I get a response.

I absolutely agree with the money belt. I had our money in a money belt on me when this happened. Too bad the others didn’t - I bet they will from now on. I would never consider not visiting DR based on something like this. It is so easy to take a few simple precautions to safeguard yourself and your belongings. And after all, aren’t we all at risk of purse snatchers or pickpockets here at home. It’s all about being aware and being careful.


#11

Money belts are also at Dollarama & everything for a buck or two. Best thing since sliced bread! We have been using them for years.

We also remove our paper money from our wallets before we leave the resort. I don’t have any faith in their security at the airport. Better to be safe than sorry.

Happy Travels!


#12

Thanks for the post. We flew in and out of La Romana on our way to the IBHD and on our way out they did the same kind of thing. I had a can of Skoal Pouches in my pocket and they pulled it out and walked around with it making a big fuss over it. Luckily I had nothing else on me. Cash was firmly in my wifes grasp the whole time and I carry nothing of value when we travel. So, if they were looking for something they found nothing. I agree that the supervisor is in on the scam. She took her time walking over to the male scammer and really seemed uninterested in the whole thing.


#13

This does not just go on at the La Romana airport but throughout the DR I have found. Also I might add it has happened at many of the Caribbean airports. Just make sure you are well aware of everything that is going on and never let any of your money out of your sight and of course keep it in a safe place :sunglasses: