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February 2023    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 49, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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How Not to Lose $95 in a Bonaire Tourist Tax Scam

from the February, 2023 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

When I checked in for my flight to Bonaire in January, the gate agent told me about a new tax on tourists and said I could pay the tax online to save time in Bonaire. So, before boarding, I googled "Bonaire tourist tax," and the first website that popped up indeed looked official and asked the questions I expected from a government website. I filled out the form, paid the $95 tax, and was notified I'd receive a QR code within the hour to show Bonaire immigration.

When I arrived in Bonaire a few hours later, I had not received my QR code. I told the immigration officer, and he asked, "How much did you pay?" When I responded, "$95," he grimaced and said, "You've been scammed. The Bonaire tax is $75 per person." I paid it . . . . again.

I have since learned that the authentic website is:

My google search led me to the scammer's website: On closer review, I now can see it is prefaced by "ad," has grammatical errors, and has some disclosures in fine print, but it looks authentic. Though it's nearly four weeks since I was fooled, it still pops up first in a Google search.

After I entered Bonaire, I called the phone number on the back of my Visa card and quickly got to an agent who canceled the charge and canceled my card, leaving me with no Visa card until I returned home. At least whoever stole my Visa number could no longer use it.

But a question remains. Is the government of Bonaire - or The Netherlands - doing anything to shut down this website?

- Geoff Fallon

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