From taxi rip-offs to overpriced beer, scams still abound in Prague says German film crew

The film crew also uncovered exchange office fraud and higher prices for foreigners in Old Town

A German film crew looking for common scams across Prague once the border re-opened has found that many vendors have returned to their old ways, from expensive taxis to overpriced beer and ham in Prague’s Old Town square.

Once the border between Czech Republic and Germany reopened, the Germany TV show Achtung Abzocke, or “Beware of Scam,” returned to Prague after four years. The show travels to different hot spots to deliberately look for fraud and common scams to map out what Germans should look out for when traveling. In addition to scams, the show tells tourists about alternatives when they travel, like how to avoid flying in the time of coronavirus.

“We came to Prague mainly because after the opening of the border it will be one of the first destinations where German tourists go,” László Horvath, who filmed with his staff in Prague, told Seznam Zpravy. “In general, the Czech Republic and Prague in particular are very popular among German tourists.”

On their 2020 visit, the crew focused on taxi drivers in the capital city and exchanging money.

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The money exchange offices were some of the most fraudulent, Horvath said. Exchange offices have long been known to scam tourists. In many exchange offices, you can cancel your transaction within three hours.

“For example, the exchange office in Florence gave us only 16 crowns for one euro,” Horvath told Seznam Zpravy. “However, the same exchange office had a clear inscription in the shop window that for one euro a person will receive 26 crowns. It was really misleading but obviously intentional.”

At one exchange office, the staff found fake money among their Czech crowns.

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The camera crew also focused on taxis in the capital city. When the crew was here in 2016, they filmed one particular taxi driver that scammed tourists by using an app on his phone to simulate a taxi meter.

“Most of the drivers were nice and charged us less than the maximum price set by the city,” Horvath said. “However, the two drivers did not turn on the taximeters at all.”

The crew found one taxi driver that wanted to charge double the maximum amount of crowns allowed by a meter, and another that charged 29 Euros, or 780 crowns, for a trip from the main train station to Old Town Square, just 3.5 kilometers away. He had a card with printed prices on it instead of a meter.

The price of beer fluctuated for tourists as well. In the central parts of Prague, like Old Town, the price of beer has been slashed in half as restaurants and bars struggle with a lack of tourists. The camera crew found that the price of beer jumped from 40 crowns to 90 crowns when they spoke a foreign language — and in one case, they were served a canned beer has expired two months ago.

Ham costs more for foreigners as well, the crew found. One stall in Old Town sold 100 g of ham for 89 crowns, but when the crew showed up speaking another language, they got only 50g of ham instead of 100g and were forced to pay 368 crowns instead of the 89 crowns. Another stall charged them 438 crowns for 50g of ham.

The show still recommends Prague as a destination for German tourists but warns them to keep an eye out.

“There are still a lot of small scams that have happened to us in Prague,” Horvath said. “But the city can simply get rid of them, or at least draw the attention of visitors to them.”

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