locals crossing the popular Solama link bridge in Kuala Lumpur with the cities skyline in the background featuring the famous Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur / latest scams in Kuala Lumpur

11 Scams in Kuala Lumpur to Watch Out For

Kuala Lumpur is one of Asia’s largest and most visited cities. With plenty of city attractions, a diverse food culture, and friendly locals, it’s easy to imagine why!

With so many tourists visiting the city every year, there are bound to be scams in Kuala Lumpur to watch out for.

Many are the obvious scams you’ll run into in many places in the world, but others are unique to KL.

Here are the eleven most common scams in Kuala Lumpur to avoid when visiting this vibrant, amazing city!

Airport Transfer Scam

Several visitors walking throughout Kuala Lumpur International Airport

When you arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, you’ll need to watch for fake taxi drivers at the airport, offering to take you to the city.

Similar to taxi scams, airport transfer scams work like this: once approached by a fake taxi driver to take you to the city, they either take long routes to get you to the city, if you confront them, they’ll say they’re avoided an “expensive toll route”.

Another scam is they’ll tell you to pay a higher price once they drop you off at your hotel.

An airport transfer from Kuala Lumpur Airport into the city should cost $20 to $25 US. If you use Grab app, it should be even cheaper, depending on the time of day.

Like fake taxis, watch out for fake Grab drivers at the airport also; only get in a Grab car with a license plate matching the car you’ve ordered on the app!

By the way, there’s a specific Grab pickup area at Kuala Lumpur Airport, and you must go there to get picked up by your Grab driver.

How To Avoid: Book a private airport transfer, order a car with Grab, or take the bus into the city.

Taxi Scam

classic red and white Malaysian taxis parked outside of a popular mall waiting for customers

Taxi scams are common in Kuala Lumpur. While walking around the city, let’s say you want to go somewhere and ask a taxi driver about the trip cost. The taxi driver then gives you a flat price.

They shouldn’t give you a price because taxis in Kuala Lumpur operate on a meter. If a taxi driver suggests a base price to take you somewhere, they’re overcharging you.

If you want to take a taxi in Kuala Lumpur, make sure the driver uses a meter, and if they don’t, get out and tell them you’re not interested.

By the way, conveniently, Kuala Lumpur is very walkable, and most city center hotels are near most attractions. Also, the public transportation in the city is exceptional, with subway, Skytrain, and bus lines covering the city.

How To Avoid: If the taxi driver refuses to use the meter, get out of the taxi. Also, pay for your taxi with cash; some taxi drivers have skimming credit card machines that steal your details or overcharge you.

As mentioned earlier, you could always use Grab instead. Grab is a ridesharing app popular in Southeast Asia that is quite convenient. You can order a ride, find your driver, and be on your way!

Fake Gift Scam

You can run into the fake gift scam in many countries. A stranger approaches you on the streets and says they want to give you a free gift.

It could be a rose, a bracelet, a charm, anything really, and sometimes they’re even aggressive and try to put it in your hand.

Once you’ve received the “free gift”, they ask for a “donation” and suggest you pay as much as you like.

Assuming you take the gift and give them some money, they start criticizing the amount. You offer to give the gift back to them, and then they argue that you took it, etc .. it’s all a headache and nothing more than a scam.

Don’t take anything from anyone in Kuala Lumpur when offered for free, and it’s never free.

Pickpocketing

several tourists and locals walking along the popular Jalan Alor Food Street

Unfortunately, pickpocketing is prevalent in Kuala Lumpur. It happens most often on busy streets and public transportation.

If you’re using public transportation in Kuala Lumpur, watch out for your pockets and bags, especially when it’s crowded.

Spots with many crowds, like the Jalan Alor Food Street, Chinatown, other notable streets, and the mall, are also popular spots for pickpocketers to lurk around, looking to steal from tourists without them noticing.

How To Avoid: When taking public transportation or visiting popular tourist sites and streets in the city, watch out for your pockets and bags.

Stranger Sad Story Scam

One of the most popular tourist scams in Malaysia is the sad story scam. A stranger approaches you on the street, sometimes just casually striking up a conversation about your visit to Kuala Lumpur.

Later in the conversation, they tell you about their life and usually tell a sad story about something they’re currently overcoming. They then proceed to ask for help in the form of money.

While you may feel bad, understand that 95 percent of the time, this is a scam. They do this act for a living, speaking to random tourists on the street of KL as they get their sympathy and then ask for money.

Children Beggars

This isn’t much of a scam but more of a trick; as you walk around Kuala Lumpur, unfortunately, you’ll see children begging for money.

While you may feel bad and want to give them money, you should know that many of these kids are employees of gangs that deploy them out to get money for them.

Giving them money is only feeding into the poor conditions they’re currently in.

If you encounter this and would really like to help, offer them some nearby street food, buy it for them, and give it to them. But never give them money.

Tour Scams

Tour scams are also common in Kuala Lumpur, and the main places you’ll encounter them are on busy tourist streets.

Scammers will offer you heavily discounted tour packages, or they will try to tell you they know the best sites/attractions in the city and can help you.

Don’t bother with all they say; go on your way. They’re trying to take your money and offer a fake tour, and you won’t hear from them again.

How to Avoid: Use reputable tour sites online like Viator for tours in Kuala Lumpur.

Sim Card Scam

an iphone next to a sim card

Another common scam in Malaysia is the SIM card scam. Sometimes, at the airport, on the street, or in the malls, you may be approached by a stranger offering to sell a SIM card.

Scammers may claim that the SIM card includes unlimited data, international calling, or other enticing features. They’ll also reassure you that it works and you can try using it before you buy it.

Don’t buy it. They’re selling you a prepaid SIM card with possibly nothing left on it.

The scam is that if you buy it and leave with the SIM card, you’ll later discover that there’s no signal and the SIM card is empty.

To avoid this scam, only purchase SIM cards from authorized retailers, such as a city convenience store like KK or 711, or go to the local telecommunication providers like Hotlink.

ATM Skimming

person using an ATM with their card

Be careful when using many ATMs in the city, especially near busy tourist streets in Kuala Lumpur.

Some of them have ATM skimmer machines in them, used to steal tourists card details.

Alternatively, some of the ATMs just eat your card and don’t give them back, scammers then retrieve it and use your card details.

The best way to withdraw money in Kuala Lumpur is to use an ATM at a bank inside. These ATMs have 24/7 camera surveillance, so you don’t have to worry about your card details being stolen there.

Phone Call/Text Scam

This is a well-known scam in Kuala Lumpur that isn’t quite famous in most places.

After you’ve purchased a local SIM card to use during your time in the city, you’ll notice many random calls/texts from all sorts of numbers.

These calls or text scams can range with many different storylines to entice you into giving them money somehow.

Scammers might say you have a DHL shipment waiting; you must pay to deliver it. Other times, they’ll tell you your phone signal will be out if you don’t pay an “owing balance.” The storylines are endless when it comes to this scam.

Malaysia ranks as one of the top countries in the world for call/text scams. So unless you know who it is, please don’t pick up or respond to the text and ignore what they say.

Dating Scams

a bartender making a drink on a rooftop bar in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The dating scam in Kuala Lumpur isn’t spoken about enough, and it’s definitely one to watch out for, especially for men alone in the city looking to meet other women. There are numerous dating scams in Malaysia to watch out for, but here are the common ones.

The most common is one where you speak to a woman for many days through a dating app, and then they ask you for money to take the bus to come see you; after sending them some money, you won’t hear from them again.

Another one is where you may engage in rather flirtatious conversation; they then ask you to speak on Instagram/Facebook, where you can send one another photos; the scammer asks you for a few explicit photos if you send any. They then threaten to send these photographs to the contact list you’re following on Instagram.

Last, this version isn’t as much of a scam but more of a waste of time. After speaking with a woman online in KL, they ask you to meet up, and you do so. Once you’ve met her and enjoyed her company, she tells you that she’s a working girl, you know what I mean, and asks if you’re interested.

Scams In Kuala Lumpur – Final Thoughts

Kuala Lumpur is an amazing city; don’t let these scams deter you from enjoying it. Like many large cities worldwide, a few scammers seek to exploit tourists visiting.

These are the common scams in Kuala Lumpur, but there are more, some unique to a select few scammers in the city, so be on the lookout.

If you recently visited Kuala Lumpur and encountered a scam not included on this list, please comment below so that others reading this article will know what to look out for when visiting!

several tourists crossing the at the busiest crosswalk in Kuala Lumpur at night / is Kuala Lumpur safe at night

What are the most common money scams in Malaysia?

Child beggars, strangers offering free gifts, and ATM skimming machines are all common money scams in Malaysia.

What should I do if I am scammed in Malaysia?

If you’re scammed in Malaysia, report it instantly to the local police, file a case, and stay updated with the local authority.

Is Malaysia known for scams?

For the most part, no, but Kuala Lumpur has its fair share of scams, being a large city with plenty of tourists visiting yearly.

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Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links shared in this article might be affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, we will earn a small commission for any sales generated through this article and/or this website.

We recommend products/services we’ve either used or researched thoroughly – Thank you for supporting me so we can continue to share helpful travel content!

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