On August 4, when German Nina Farina Muckel and her Spanish friend Alex Riverola sat in their taxi at the Delhi airport, the driver, instead of driving them to their hotel in Paharganj, took them to several dead-end roads, claiming a curfew was on. After driving them around for another hour, he took them to a 'travel agent' in central Delhi claiming to help them, the tourists said.
At the travel agency, they were told that Delhi was indeed under curfew and it was very unsafe to travel. The agent offered to book them a trip to Jaipur, Agra and Varanasi - at an exorbitant price. No receipt was issued, the tourists claim, since the agent told them half the amount would go towards "government taxes".
Ms Muckel said she realised that she had been scammed only when she received a call from the manager of her hotel in Paharganj asking whether he should hold her booking or not.
Distraught, she approached the Delhi police. But she said instead of acting with alacrity, the police made them do rounds of various police stations, citing jurisdictional issues.
Nine hours after she first approached the police, Ms Muckel told NDTV that the issue had been "settled" and while no complaint had been filed, the police had assured her of probing the incident thoroughly.
Police sources told NDTV that the tourists were discouraged from formally pursuing the case since it would require them to remain in the city. They were persuaded to accept compensation instead.
According to senior police officers, the incident is not the first of its kind. Last month, Delhi police busted another gang using the same ruse to scam tourists.
Speaking to NDTV, Union Minister for Tourism Dr Mahesh Sharma said the incident was worrying. "I am worried about this and in case there have been any lapses I will take up the matter with the Home Ministry and ensure that action is taken."
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