Some people in Gambia
turn to less than honest means to take advantage of
using various devious tricks. Be on the look out for
those attempting to part you from your money by pleading
a false case.
Below are three examples of commonly used scams among
Gambian con artists. Note that these cases are presented
very straightforwardly, which are by all means not the
case on the street. Plots are often not uncovered until
the very moment you are asked for money—do not feel
guilty into giving them any, no matter how thick they
lay it on. No matter how far fetched getting scammed
may seem, it will probably happen to you if you are
staying for a long time in the country. "Sign my
guestbook", "Do you remember me?," and
one got the "rice for the family."
These three common scams are explained below:
A Gambian approaches you and tells you all about how
he was just married or how his son was just born. He
was sad that you could not make the ceremony, but invites
you to sign the guestbook/visitor’s book. He seems genuinely
excited to meet a tourist like yourself, so you good-naturedly
agree. The “guestbook” contains a list of names
(likely to be made up) as well as a list of sizable
donations. He tells you it is customary to give a gift
on the occasion, and thus will pressure you into doing
so with a guilt trip.
“Don’t you remember me?”:
An unfamiliar person approaches and says, “Hello, how
are you? It’s Kebba, the repair man! Do you remember
me?” You will feel guilty enough to say yes because
you see hundreds of people a day and it is difficult
to keep all of your acquaintances straight. He will
then ask you to loan him some money to buy something,
either a bite to eat or something for your hotel, which
you will be reimbursed for later. One "Kebba"
in Bakau has tried
to assert that he owns an orphanage, and has even gone
as far as taking tourists to 'his' compound and training
to hug the strangers to keep up the act. He then asks
for money to buy bags of rice for the children.
Rice for the family:
A man approaches you and, after the customary greetings,
tells you about how he does not have enough cash to
buy food for his family’s next meal. As he begs you
to help him out in the money department, he leads you
to a local shop where they sell bags of rice. After
he wheedles a few hundred dalasi notes out of you and
enters the shop to pick out his bag, he leaves you standing
on the corner while he escapes out the back door with
The above are just a few of the very many examples of
the frauds perpetrated on tourists and longer stay visitors
to Gambia. Be on your guard and assume any story someone
tells you about needing your cash to be false until
it is 'verified' by you. Even then it may not really
have been 'verified' as the tricksters could have got
other people in on the game! If in doubt just say no.
Be careful about those who wish to 'sell' you land that
is not theirs. This is a common confidence trick where
the 'seller' shows you a (doctored) photocopy of 'his
title' to the land and attempts to 'sell' it to you.
You later find out he does not even own the property.
The most dangerous kind of conman is the one that comes
across as being well off and actually has money to spend
on YOU. He may insist on paying for a meal you both
just ate. He may offer to pay for your drink at a bar,
he may well be driving a flashy car. This could be preparing
you for a big con, such as your 'joint' investment in
a lodge, farm or other project. It's usually no such
thing, and even if he has invested in your 'joint' project,
his ultimate aim is to find ways to remove your ownership
in the 'joint' venture. For your own financial safety
you should avoid these kinds of people at all costs.
That's not to say there aren't genuine business partners
out there, you should just make sure that everything
is dealt with by your lawyer, above board and transparent.
Common Tourist Scams:
There are numerous scams and tricks perpetrated on the
unwary tourists to Gambia. There are too many to list
here but here are some of the more common hard-luck
||"My father (or mother) has
just been admitted to Banjul hospital or a clinic
& he / she needs urgent treatment".
||"I am unable to pay my younger
brother's outstanding school fees & as a result
he is currently out of school".
||"I have not eaten for a couple
of days as I have no work and I am hungry".
||You are given a 'free' gift like
a cheap bead necklace which is used as an avenue
to lure you into deeper conversation & 'friendship'.
This trickster may be a patient kind of guy &
will elicit your cash another day.
||"I have to go to a 'naming
ceremony' because they named the child after
me and tradition says I have to donate some money
to the father".
||"I have malaria and need to
get some medications urgently".
||The more sophisticated tricksters
will work in collaboration with someone else who
will inform you that your 'friend' is in some
sort or 'terrible demise' and your cash is required
to solve the 'problem'.
||And so on and so on...
||If you feel you want to help The
your money to a charity.