20 Ways Tourists Get Taken Advantage Of While On Holidays
Tourists traveling all over the world are susceptible to getting taken advantage of. Cab drivers, hotel staff, and over-friendly locals can easily scam unsuspecting tourists on holidays. There are many great destinations all over the world, from Paris to Barcelona, however, increasing number of tourists visiting these places has made it easier for shrewd scammers to thrive. If you are not careful, you can easily fall prey to the tricks of these scammers.
When traveling in a foreign land, it is better to prepare and be wary of possible scams that can happen to you. By staying on top of things, you can avoid spending too much cash unnecessarily or spending all your money for something not worth it.
We will show you 20 ways tourists get taken advantage of while on holidays. Take note of these to protect yourself and to guarantee that you have the best holiday that you deserve.
20. Gold Ring Trick in Paris
The Gold Ring Trick is an old and very common scam in France, especially in Paris. Someone will coincidentally find a gold ring on the floor. They will point at the 18K hallmark on the ring and offer it to you. Unfortunately, there are still people who fall for it because it can be very convincing.
When the victim accepts the ring, the one who picked it up will start asking for something as simple as money for a croissant. Then, they will continue extorting for more. Since the victim accepted what they thought is a generous gift, they will try to reciprocate.
To avoid this, don’t accept the ring. It is not yours in the first place. You will just fall into deep trouble with money getting extorted from you.
19. Trojan Horse in Spain
In Spain, thieves take stealing to a whole new level with a scam called the Trojan Horse. Basically, a contortionist infiltrates the bus cargo by hiding inside a large luggage bag. The bag is loaded by an accomplice into the bus. When the time is right, the contortionist will come out to steal valuables while being transported in between popular tourist destinations.
18. Overcharging Cab Drivers Everywhere
All over the world, it is usually inevitable to run into overcharging taxi drivers who deliberately take a longer route so they can charge higher. In some cases, taxi drivers do not give change. In other cases, some taxis have rigged meters that charge more than what they should. Sometimes, taxi drivers will make a verbal agreement with you to add something on top of the actual charge just because there is a traffic jam or just so they will drive faster so you can reach your destination quickly. Otherwise, they will decline you their service.
In Las Vegas, there is a scam called “getaway drivers” where the driver will remove all your belongings from the compartment but will leave one bag. Then, they will drive off quickly and before you know it, they have taken some of your valuables.
17. The Photographer Scam
The photographer scam is popular in Europe, especially in romantic tourist destinations like Paris. The common scenario for this scam happens with couples who are taking individual pictures of each other. A helpful local, who is also the scammer, will offer to take your photos together. The best case scenario is they will just ask for money in exchange for taking your pictures. The worst case scenario is they will run off with your camera or smartphone.
To avoid this, you may want to invest in a “selfie stick”.
16. Free Massage Scam
This scam is prominent in Barbados and the Bahamas. Someone will approach you while you are relaxing or lounging by the beach. They will offer you a massage to relax some more. Initially, they will offer you a free trial for a few minutes to entice you. After they do this, they will continue massaging you longer. Then, they will hang around and pester you to pay them.
15. Rose Scam in Popular Tourist Spots
The Rose Scam is a popular scam in many tourist destinations especially those with a romantic ambiance. It is pretty stupid yet many still fall for it. The scam is simple, someone will give you a rose as a token of friendship. You think it is free so you accept. Once you accept, they will extort money from you in exchange of the rose. Even if you return the rose, they will force you to give them money. They will harass you continuously until you give in. Another version of this scam is when the scammer targets a couple. They will give the rose to the girl and force the guy to pay for it.
14. Over-Helpful People at Metros
This is a common scam that is difficult to spot and to avoid. It has many variations so you always need to keep an eye out when riding the metro to protect yourself. First off, do not just let anyone help you with your metro pass. Find uniformed metro staff to seek help from. Unfortunately, some scammers dress the same so it is hard to spot the difference. Plus, at times, they operate in groups, which makes it trickier.
A variation is these scammers switch child passes with adult passes but they charge you for the adult passes. If you use one and get caught, you will pay a hefty fine.
Another variation is they sell metro passes for a cheaper price. However, most of the passes they have are used and useless. Purchase one directly from the machine or from the teller.
13. Map Seller Scam
If you are traveling in a foreign country, having a map can be helpful. In Europe, the map seller scam is pretty rampant. Someone will try to sell you a map and tell you how it can make your travel more efficient. They will unfold the map in your face as a distraction. Then, without you noticing, their accomplices are already pickpocketing you.
12. Magic Tricks and Gambling Distraction
Magic tricks and gambling on streets looks entertaining, yet these are not free. Sometimes, these tricks are done for a small donation. That is okay. However, sometimes scammers use this to trick tourists in order to steal their valuables or make them fall into their trap due to the greed of winning.
For magic tricks, usually these are used to distract you. Later on, you’ll realize that you lost some stuff while intently watching the tricks.
For gambling, initially they will let you win. However, since you want to win more, even when you start losing, you will not want to stop.
11. The Dropped Wallet Scam
A wallet dropped on the floor will get your attention. You might not pick it up, but this will trigger you to check that it is not yours. When you do this, the scammers will take note where your wallet is so they will know how to pickpocket you later on.
This scam is common in Rome and the Ukraine.
10. English Students Scam
Innocent-looking and cute girls will pretend to overhear you speaking English. They will approach you and ask if they can practice with you. This, in turn, can become a way for them to tell you their sob story. Then, they will try to ask money from you.
Another way this is done is they will invite you to their favorite restaurant or coffee shop. When the bill comes, you will be shocked how expensive it is. Right at that moment, the girls are nowhere to be found.
This scam is popular in Beijing, Shanghai, and Xian.
9. The Music Artist Scam
A musician on the street will grab your attention through the songs they play. They probably have an instrument and CDs of their “album” with them. They will enthusiastically hand you a CD of their songs. They will tell you how much it means to them that you accept the CD and listen to their songs when you go back home. You will accept the CD. Unfortunately, after that, they will start coercing you for money. Most of the time, these scammers do not operate alone. Some of their friends may come and harass you into giving money to them. This scam is popular in New York City.
8. Punctured Tire Scam
Rented cars are pretty apparent for locals, which make them easy targets for scammers. This scam is when someone intentionally punctures your tire. Then, they will flag you down and offer their help. They will even offer the help to change the tire for you for free. While distracted (and tense from the incident), they may have an accomplice who will rummage through your car and steal your belongings. This scam is pretty common in San Jose.
7. Jewelry Deal Scam in Bangkok
The jewelry deal scam is pretty popular in Bangkok. The scenario starts with a friendly tuktuk driver. They will tell you that your desired location is not open. Then, they will recommend that you go somewhere else. When they bring you there, another friendly man will welcome you. They will tell you secrets how they buy diamonds and other gems from the local market. They will even tell you that you can sell those for a higher price when you get back home. Enticed, you will make purchases just to know later on that you have been scammed.
6. Fake Policeman Scam
An official-looking policeman may approach you and tell you that there is fake money circulating. They will ask to check your wallet, however when they return it to you, there may be some money missing. At times, they will ask for your passport and visa. They will pretend that there is a problem. Then, they will tell you to pay a fine in order to sort things out. Otherwise, they will not return your travel documents to you.
The fake policeman scam is common in Mexico, Bogota, Bucharest, and Bangkok.
5. Beggars and Charities
A beggar, usually an old lady or a pregnant woman, will try to guilt-trip you into giving them money. They will not stop until you do so. Although initially, this does not seem so bad, they might have an accomplice just waiting around to pickpocket you.
If you are in a dark, shady street or a crowded area, avoid giving alms. Maybe give them food instead of cash.
4. The Closed Hotel Scam
The taxi driver, who is also part of the scam, will convince you that the hotel you booked is closed for renovations. Then, they will recommend a better place for you to stay at while in the city. However, the hotel that they recommended will be extremely overpriced and in a bad location. You will not get your money’s worth.
Another version of this scam is done is when sub-par hotels copy the name of legit hotels. This will trick tourists into thinking that they have arrived at the right hotel and that the advertisements online are just wrong.
The closed hotel scam is common in Europe.
3. The Fake Takeout Menu
This scam is popular in the US. Scammers will slide a fake menu under your hotel door. If you are too lazy or too tired to go out, you will just order from them. However, no food will be delivered to you. Unfortunately, when your credit card bill comes, you will be shocked of your expenses because the scammers made a copy of it and used it.
2. “Lost Soul” Scam
Someone carrying a large map approaches you and asks for your help. If you are like most people, you will most likely help. Of course, it is because you have been in that position before. You just want to help out. However, while distracted helping, someone might have taken your wallet or any valuable that they see like a watch or a phone.
This is not limited to streets or parks. It can also happen in picnic areas, cafes, or restaurants. Scammers can lay the map on the table where your valuables are. When they pick up the map, they take your valuables with them.
If it feels sketchy, just ignore them and say you’re a fellow tourist as well.
1. Pickpockets in Paris
Paris is one of the most romantic cities in the whole world. Travelers go to this place to marvel at the beauty of the iconic Eiffel Tower and to witness the magnificence of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. Unfortunately, the beauty of this city is tainted by the growing number of pickpockets. Due to the huge influx of people in Paris, pickpockets can easily operate in these huge crowds. They just squeeze into a sea of unaware tourists, which is a perfect scenario for them. There are hundreds of pickpocketing incidents reported on a monthly basis in Paris. Hence, if you are traveling here, keep your valuables secured or hidden in hard to reach areas.
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