Gran Canaria Scams: Tips on How to Avoid Them

Gran Canaria scams, happen to unfortunate tourists who are caught off-guard. These scams can be off little money, or big amounts, if they are related to the purchase of properties or time-share. The worst scams are the ones where people have lost their life-long savings or still worse, have asked for a loan from the bank to pay for what turns out to be a scam. We have collected practical information of what you can do to avoid being scammed while on holiday.

Vacation Rental Scams

With the huge growth of vacation rentals, this also attracts scammers. Unfortunately, Spain is no exception. It is important not to pay anything in cash beforehand (that includes other alternatives such as Western Union, Bitcoin, etc.), and to go through reputable sites. Click here to read more

Gran Canaria Scams: Tablets and Mobile Phones

This kind of scam generally targets elderly tourists who are unfamiliar with technology products. This is how it works:

  1. A customer is offered a mobile phone or tablet at way below market prices.
  2. He/she wants to buy it, but then is offered a monthly subscription service that will allow him/her to make free internet, phone calls, and watch free TV channels. 
  3. The customer agrees to pay the extra monthly fee (5-12 euros/month).
  4. The customer is told to come after a few days to pick up the device, since a software upgrade is needed. The delivery date is generally the same day, or the day before departure.
  5. The customer picks up the device and his/her credit card is run through various credit card machines without being noticed. 
  6. The customer arrives in his country and finds out that purchases for thousands of euros, have been made using his card. 

Since international transactions sometimes take a few days to reflect on the bank statement, scammers take advantage of this. They may also suggest to keep your phone off, to make a better upgrade on your new phone or tablet. This will prevent you from getting a SMS message with the transaction details, or phone calls from the bank’s fraud dept.

Fortunately, this type of scam is rare, and restricted to a couple of shops in Puerto Rico, Mogan, in the south of the island.

How to Immediately Detect  Time-Share Scammers

1)      You will find them only in the main streets of tourist areas, very rarely in residential cities where locals live.

2)      He/She will speak your language pefectly and most probably even be from your country. They will tell you that they work for the Tourist Board or the Canary Islands Government.

3)      You will be given a gift card, that requires you to scratch it, and surprise! You won!

4)      To claim your prize you will be requested to go to the “company” office (with a free taxi), where you will be invited to listen to a presentation, that can last as long as 8 hours. In this presentation, you will be brainwashed about the product or service they want to sell to you.

5)      You will be requested to sign a contract and leave a deposit, to lock-in the once-in-a-lifetime offer, e.g. 2000 Euros, which will be taken from your credit card. If you don’t have the credit cards on you, you will be offered a free taxi to your hotel by one of the reps, who will accompany you, to pick up the cards.

6)      When you want to use the product/service, you find out it doesn’t exist and that is when you find out that you have been scammed.

Tom Smulders is a Dutchman who has been living on the island since many years. He is actively working on stopping Gran Canaria scams. He is the president of the Tourism Security commission of the FEHT, which is the association of hotels, bars, and restaurants of Las Palmas province (includes Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, and Lanzarote). He is also the president of the  local apartment owners’ association. Tom feels that the only way to stop the scammers is to ban anyone from approaching (and bothering) tourists.


Since many years, Tom (and the organizations he represents),  the tour operators that bring the tourists, the Spanish national police, and the Spanish and European consumer organizations, have all been warning about the touts who harrass the tourists during their holiday, trying to sell them different products or services. They recommend to be careful when approached on the street corners. They are pushing for legal coordination at a European level, which will be happening soon.

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