While most crimes in Romania are nonviolent, crimes do occur in which people do get hurt and even severely injured, especially at nightclubs and bars. Reports of sexual assault are uncommon; however, to be safe, be vigilant, especially at night and in situations involving alcohol. Although racial prejudice exists in Romania, especially toward those who look like Roma (“gypsies”), hate crimes are rare.
Crimes against tourists, such as robbery, pick pocketing, and confidence schemes remain problematic. Organized groups of thieves and pickpockets, sometimes including minors, operate in train stations and on trains, subways, and buses in major cities. A number of thefts and assaults have occurred on overnight trains, including thefts from passengers in closed compartments. The U.S. Embassy recommends using the highest class available for train travel, and traveling with at least one other person. Avoid leaving your personal belongings unattended; stow them securely out of sight if leaving them in a parked car.
Credit card and internet fraud remain among the most common crimes affecting foreigners in Romania. Romania is largely a "cash-only" economy. While an increasing number of businesses accept credit cards, you may wish to use cash for goods and services rendered due to the risk of credit card fraud. Vendors, including restaurant staff, have been known to misuse credit card information by making illegal purchases on a customer's account. There are an increasing number of Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) located throughout major cities, and sophisticated identity theft rings target them. Try to use ATMs located inside banks and check for any evidence of tampering before use. Be cautious when using publicly available internet terminals, such as in internet cafes, as sensitive personal information, account passwords, etc. may be compromised.
You should be alert to money exchange schemes targeting travelers. Some of these ploys have become sophisticated, involving individuals posing as plainclothes policemen who approach you, flashing a badge, and asking for your passport and wallet. If presented with a situation like this, you should insist on the presence of a uniformed police officer and request that any problem be resolved at a police station.
You should be cautious about entering into contracts with Romanian groups and/or organizations. There have been a number of incidents in which such contracts have not been honored. As a result, the U.S. Embassy recommends that all contracts entered into by foreigners are reviewed by a Romanian attorney. The Romanian legal system is difficult for foreigners to navigate, making the assistance of a local attorney nearly essential.
You should be very careful about developing relationships with individuals known only through contact over the Internet. Professional thieves in Romania commonly target U.S. citizens by contacting them through chat rooms or personal advertisements. They generally identify themselves as young Romanian women and develop a "relationship" with their victims over time. Requests for money may not begin for six months or longer when a fictional child becomes ill, a job is lost; a business needs start-up cash, etc. While numerous variations of this scam exist, money extortion remains the ultimate goal. If you believe you may have fallen victim to this kind of scam, contact American Citizens Services at the U.S. Embassy. Romanian authorities may be reluctant to prosecute these crimes unless you can show that coercion was used or a significant amount of your money was stolen.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into the United States, but by buying them you may be breaking local law too.
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