New scam on Addis Ababa Minibuses

I’ve been living in Addis Ababa since August, and have had overall positive experiences with transportation, food, and Ethiopian people.

Today, however, I experienced what may be a new scam in the city. I got on a typically crowded minibus (locally known as a taxi) and sawt between a man and woman.  A few minutes into the ride, the man asked the woman to open the window. She tried, and was struggling, so asked me to help.

As I was leaning over to help her, the man (who had a jacket on his lap) began to open my purse using his jacket as a cover. He unclipped it and probably got his hand in before I realized what was happening, but fortunately my wallet and money were buried under other things. I gave him a look and pulled by bag away, and then (perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not) the driver pulled over and told my two friends and I to get out so we could get an other bus to our final destination.

I hope that this is not one of the new scams that will become common in the city, because minibuses are generally very safe and foreigner friendy – I’ve never been overcharged in my time here.

Hopefully this will help alert others to be especially careful on minibuses. I would be interested to know if anyone else has had a similar experience.

Rebecca Wickham

Safe travels!


5 thoughts on “New scam on Addis Ababa Minibuses

  1. frank rispin says:

    Hi rebekah,
    This scam is not new. Maybe 5 out of 13000 minibus taxis in Addis are crooked, driver and all.
    Be on you guard IF
    a. You are asked to move seats for no apparently good reason.
    b.Anyone asks u to open a window. It is the regular distraction used.
    c. As you say 99.9 % of addis minibuses are great, safe and you do not get overcharged.

  2. Petra Zimmermann says:

    Hi Rebecca,
    I agree with Frank and have one additional comment: if those of you who are scammed, would start reporting to the police, this kind of scam will stop. Note the number of the minibus you are in and add that to your report and the police will have an easier job to find the scamming subjects.

    Save journey,

  3. Becca says:

    Hello – Thanks for your comments! I did think about getting the number of the minibus, but not until after it had pulled away. Frankly, I was so surprised that this had happened in a place I usually consider ‘safe’ that I wasn’t thinking straight. I will certainly be on my guard in the future, and try to report any scams I see.
    Safe travels,

  4. Thomas says:

    One dangerous scam is the minibuses that operates around Bole. Some are full of thieves and they leave one place free and look for white persons preferably to enter the taxi and then drive away and rob her/him.
    Never enter a minibus that ask you where you are going, If you still wanna enter one make sure that a local passanger enter before you because normally they don´t let them enter the taxi.


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