While reading about Mumbai on wikitravel, before my next business trip, I have found information about two scams, said to be popular in this city (or entire India?), which either lacks details or is completely not understandable by me. I will appreciate any help in explaining them.

First, in "To and from airport" section:

There is a well-known scam with the employees here replacing your 500 rupee bill with a 100 rupee bill and giving you change for the latter.

Either I'm dumb, or I don't follow it. If employee is replacing my 500 rupee bill with 100 rupee bill and then he is giving me a change for the rest, then where seems to be the scam here?

Then, in "Stay safe" section there's a note:

There is a scam, in which a persons asks you for a change of 1000 INR currency note. Once you give him two 500 INR notes he changes these notes to two 100 INR without you noticing and thus demands 800 INR more from you. Beware when someone asks you change for 1000 INR.

Now, this is something, that I completely don't understand. In details:

  • when someone asks for a change for 1000 INR bill, then why should I handle him 2500 INR?
  • even if I give him 2500 INR bill, which he replace with 2100 INR bill (is there such bill anyway), then how can he ask for "missing" 800 INR, if 2500-2100 = 400 INR?
  • 19
    I think by 2 500 it means two notes of the value 500INR, not 2500INR. Other than that, I don't really understand the scams. Don't offer to provide change to persons on the street who approach you I think is good guidance though.
    – CMaster
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 11:29
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    "the latter" != "the rest" Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 13:24
  • 4
    I would be much, much more worried about taking out and opening my briefcase in front of a stranger than about being scammed for 3€ worth of currency... just, never ever do that.
    – Damon
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 16:07
  • 5
    It means you pay for something with a 500 rupee bill, the recipient switches it for a 100 rupee one while apparently still holding it, and presents your change. If you object he can show you the 100 rupee note you paid with. Just don't have any dealings with people who approach you. Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 17:16
  • 2
    This scam is also called "quick-change" or "fast-change". There are several varieties depending on if the target is a stranger on the street or a shopkeeper.
    – Freiheit
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 15:10

3 Answers 3


It says that, when you hand them 500 INR bills, they replace those with 100 INR bills since they look similar. So in the first case, when you hand them 500 INR and the object costs per say 50 INR, they will give you 50 INR change instead of 450 INR. When you ask them about where the rest is, they will show you 100 INR and tell you that you have given them 100 INR instead of 500 INR.

This is the same with the second case. They basically use the sleight of hand, and change your money with less valued look alike. This happens a lot in Mexico, and happened to me as well. When I started swearing in Spanish and walking towards the guy, he gave me correct change and ran away.

  • 1
    Can you comment on exactly which bill substitution they attempted in Mexico? Apart from a slight similarity between MXN 20 and MXN 1000 notes, the bills are generally very distinct. (And, even then, MXN 1000 notes are rather rare, bigger than MXN 20 ones and of different material, and only some are of similar colour; you would rarely use them in the same situation anyway.) It also feels weird to say it happens 'a lot', but then I'm a local.
    – E.P.
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 16:31
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    They would attempt to switch MXN 500 with MXN 50. As I recall, they have similar color and they would try to throw you off with a zero. Happened to me twice, and thanks to my broad vocab of swear words (lol), they wouldn't dare. Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 16:40
  • OK, but that requires a pretty clueless tourist. The colour is vaguely similar but the material and size are very different, particularly with modern bills. I would doubt that that is a very widespread scam (but then again you never know).
    – E.P.
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 16:45
  • Swearing and getting money back is a nice idea. As we say in Turkish, Ben de aynısını yapardım.
    – ave
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 16:46
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    @E.P. you are exactly right. It happened to me twice in Merida. I guess it might be just a Yucatan thing. Both times, he tried to show me that I was giving him not enough money for the purchase and would pull out one MXN 50 and hold my other MXN 500. After I intimidated him, he apolagized and gave the MXN 50 and MXN 100 for the change for MXN850 in one case, and two MXN 100 for MXN 750 Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 16:49

The 500 and 100 Indian rupees bills are almost identical in size and also looks somewhat similar.

So to answer your first question, when you pay someone with INR 500 bill for some service/good, the person might trick you by saying that you paid him/her just INR 100 and return you the change. Suppose one item costs INR 70 and you paid the vendor INR 500 for the item. So now the vendor might say that you paid just INR 100 and will give you a change of INR 30 instead of INR 430.

For the second question, "2 500 INR notes" means two 500 INR notes. There is no Indian rupee bill of denomination 2500. Only up-to 1000 INR notes are available. So the situation is similar to first one. As here also one might trick you by replacing INR 500 notes with INR 100 notes.

  • 3
    I have explained the exact same thing with almost identical wording, I think your answer is redundant. You can edit my answer if you wish to and I will gladly accept it. Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 12:22
  1. If you want to travel to and from Mumbai airport (international/domestic) look for taxi counters inside the airport. Don't hire from unscrupulous persons (this way you wont get scammed). You can also book a cab by calling Merucabs.com or Easycabs.com anywhere in the city

  2. Regarding staying safe in the city, usually Mumbai is very safe, except minor incidents of some people try charge you more, knowing that you are foreign and can afford more money. Don't pay anybody in foreign currencies (use rupees). This way they don't charge more.

when someone asks for a change for 1000 INR bill, then why should I handle him 2500 INR?

Can't agree more! Don't believe in any of those nonsense!

  1. Avoid beggars and be wary of pick pockets in crowded areas and don't carry large cash. Don't fall for honeypot scams. Trust your instincts :J

Indian rupee notes of denominations 100, 500, 1000 may be of similar sizes but not different colors. If you don't know how it looks like see this link and this will give you some prior knowledge prior to your travel.

Yes, con people are likely to scam/cheat you if you make mistakes counting.


Keep in mind that only rupees notes 1000,500,100,50,20,10,5 are valid in India. You can check the security features in above link.

One last piece of advice: 500 rupee notes are very commonly used in India. I suggest to avoid using 1000 rupee note for small expenses (bit hard to get a change).

1000 Rupees

1000 Rupees

500 Rupees

500 Rupees

100 Rupees

100 Rupees

  • 1
    "look for the taxi counter inside the airport" TBC they are in the airport structure, but you step outdoors. after final security and exiting to the outdoors (notice the Starbucks straight ahead about 10m) just step to your RIGHT about 20? meters.Go down ONE floor (ideally just use the outdoors escalator, or use the elevators, but only go down one floor). the ONLY way to get a taxi is to pay at the desk (the cost is very low).You DO NEED rupees. It is absolutely impossible to get ripped-off, no money changes hands with the drivers.You will get one of the "traditional" yellow cabs.
    – Fattie
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 22:33
  • 1
    you can pay a tiny amount more and get one of the air-conditioned "blue" taxis. (it's a waste of an extra dollar.) Even if you are incredibly rich, and always ride in limos/Ubers, it's quite tricky/annoying to have your driver or limo pick you up at Mumbai airport - you have to hike around a bit. so even the super-rich, as it were, usually just get an ordinary old mumbai taxi for a couple dollars - since it is so convenient, and they are right there: just go outdoors, right, and down one floor.
    – Fattie
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 22:37
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    From mid-November 2016, the 500 INR and 1000 INR notes illustrated here are no longer legal tender. Do not accept them. Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 3:44

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