Safety and Avoiding Scams in Morocco

Updated August 22, 2020.

Every place in the world is safe. And Every place in the world is dangerous. Anything could happen anywhere; the best you can do is be prepared! Morocco has a bit of a reputation for scams and pickpockets (much like Rome, Paris, and New York City), but if you’re self-aware, observant, and do a little research beforehand (like reading this blog post!), you’ll have all the tools you need to stay safe in Morocco and anywhere you want to go around the world!

Below I have listed some common scams in many of the major cities in Morocco. If you have been the victim of a scam that’s not listed here, or if you have a personal story about one of the scams below, please comment with your experience at the end of this post!

First glimpse of Tangier’s Medina, the Old City!
More here: How to Haggle in Morocco

Don’t Fall for the “Henna Women;” (Especially in Jemaa el-Fna Marketplace)

Henna tattoos are temporary, and they are traditionally used for celebrations such as Eid, weddings, or just for beauty. I’ve gotten a couple of henna tattoos, and I liked them, but some women in Marrakech have used them as a scam. This scam works when a woman brushes up against you in a crowded area and leaves a mark on your arm with her henna pen. She offers to “fix” it for you, but then wants you to pay for it when she’s done—at the price she wants.

If you don’t want it, just say no. Or if you like, let her “fix” it and then only pay what you think it’s worth. If you don’t like it, pay nothing. You are not obligated to pay for something you did not ask for or want. To prevent this entirely, be on the lookout for women who seem to be getting too close or seem to be scoping you out. This did not happen to me, but it is certainly worth looking out for!

Jemaa El-Fna Square
Essential info: 7 Travel Rules You Don’t Know Until Someone Tells You

Don’t Leave Your Electronics at Your Accommodation

If you travel with electronics, take them with you wherever you go; do not leave them at your accommodation, even in the safe. That includes phones, laptops, e-readers, ipads, ipods, air pods, fitness trackers, etc., etc., etc. It’s best to just leave the vast majority of those things at home!

Keep Money in Multiple Places

If someone swipes your wallet and all your cash is in there, all your cash is gone. If someone picks your pocket and all your money was in your pocket, all your money is gone. If someone steals your purse and all your money was in your purse (yes, even your crossbody bag!), all your money is gone. So keep some money in your pocket, some money in your purse, and some money in your wallet. If you do, you probably won’t lose all your money in one go!

Beautiful money!
More here: You Guide to Travel and Your Money

Have a “Dummy Wallet” at the Ready

Similarly, keeping your money safe could be accomplished with a simple fake-out! Bring a cheap or old wallet with you, and if you are approached by someone threatening you for money, throw it at them and run the opposite direction. Try to get a description of them so you can report them to the police as well.

Remember the Price on the Menu

Or better yet, take a picture of the menu as soon as you get it. Sometimes restaurants will give you a menu, you’ll order, then when the bill comes, it’s more than you expect. When you question them about it, they will give you another menu with the same items but different prices. So take a photo of the menu; that will be the proof you need to pay the price you expect to pay.

Remember whether you got the small or large option!
Read on: What to Eat in Morocco

Do Not Accept “Help” or Be Led by a “Friendly” Local

The “Fake Nice Guy” scam can be found throughout Morocco, and this happened to us once despite our best efforts to lose them! The old cities and their streets are confusing, so a “nice” person might see a tourist’s confusion and offer to “help.” What they won’t tell you is that they expect a hefty tip for their time doing you that favor. Or perhaps they’ll lead you to their cousin’s shop and expect you to pay top dollar for things you don’t want.

Instead, firmly decline and confidently walk into a shop, hotel, restaurant, or other nearby establishment. Ask someone who works there for directions—if you need them.

The world’s cutest and sweetest shop keeper!
More here: Pickpocket Tricks of the Trade (and How to Beat Them)

Agree on a Price Before You Get into the Taxi

Haggling or bartering is just part of the Moroccan experience, and that goes for taxis as well. If you don’t decide on a price in advance, you might end up paying a lot more than you should when you get to your destination.

Ladies, Please Cover Up

This is not the moment to express your sexuality, show off those toned legs you’ve worked so hard for, or work on your tan. This is a moment to be respectful of another culture. It’s going to be hot, but you will learn to love the flowy scarves, skirts, and tunic tops. You can look cute and modest all at the same time! Stay tuned for my packing list for this trip, coming soon!

It’s true! You can look modest and cute all at the same time!
Read on: What to Pack for Morocco: Women

Need more safety and security tips? Check out Pickpocket Tricks of the Trade, How to Outsmart the Pickpocket, and How to Travel Safely! And stay tuned for more about our Moroccan adventures on my Morocco Page!

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2 responses to “Safety and Avoiding Scams in Morocco”

  1. Great tips, especially the menu one. Wouldn’t have guessed that would happen.

    1. quickwhittravel Avatar

      Right?! I mean, who even thinks of that?

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