How the scam works:
Rum and cigars are the most famous Cuban exports, so stocking up on them while visiting is popular amongst travelers. Locals know this as well and there are quite a few of them who are monetizing on tourists’ naivety.
There are tons of counterfeit cigars and rum bottles sold by vendors at the Caribbean markets, the fakes being placed in the real items’ packaging (fake cigars in real boxes or watered-down rum refilled in brand name rum bottles).
How to avoid:
You will want to open the cigar boxes before you buy them and analyze the cigars: you should be able to see if they belong there or not. When it comes to rum, popular advice is to take the outer seal off the bottle (if it doesn’t have an outer seal, it’s obviously a fake) press a Kleenex against the cork or cap and turn the bottle on its side. If there is the slightest leak onto the Kleenex, it’s watered down alcohol.
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