It seems that each country you travel in has its own scam ‘specialty’, a favorite among the local thieves. It is true that some countries are free of scam artists and offer travelers nothing really to worry about. But other countries, like Egypt and Italy, have professional scam artists, people that make a living off of the unwary traveler. It is helpful to ask other travelers about popular local scams. Here are some of the more common scams encountered by travelers:
- travelers may be approached by several locals, who shove maps or cardboard below their face, blocking their view of their bag and pockets. Hold on to your belongings tightly and walk away.
- even though someone tells you that you must pay them to take your camera into an attraction, it may not be true but rather a way to make more money for themselves
- train compartments may be gassed, whereby passed-out travelers are then robbed. It helps to keep a window open to prevent this, as well as tying your door shut.
- watch out for extra food charged on your food bill at restaurants
- beware of inflated prices when making purchases but don’t automatically assume that you are being ripped off
- someone may spill something on you and then take advantage of the distraction and steal your bag while you frantically try to wipe it off. Refuse assistance and leave the area.
- bag snatchers often ride in pairs on scooters or mopeds for a quick snatch and get away. Carry your bag on the shoulder opposite from the street-side.
- vendors who offer to ship your purchase home for you (or even wrap it in a sealed box for you) may switch the product when it is out of your sight, giving you a possibly broken, inferior or just plain different item than what you had paid for. You would probably not even notice the switch until you got home or were in some other difficult position to return the item.
- cab drivers may try to convince you that there are no more buses or trains running (probably not true) so you feel that a cab is your only transportation option. Check for yourself or look for other means of finding out for sure.
- after accepting a ride or other service, an exorbitant price may be demanded. If you refuse, police may be called that will no doubt decide in favor of the vendor. Always ask for (or negotiate) the price before accepting a ride or service. It is extremely difficult to negotiate a price afterwards.
- as you view a particular attraction, a local resident may strike up a friendly conversation with you and tell you about what it is you are looking at. As you move along, this person might then continue to share his knowledge about other interesting sights. However, after such an encounter, don’t be surprised to be asked for money for the ‘tour’ that you have just been given.
- Touring the pyramid grounds in Egypt, we were constantly coming across Egyptian men who asked us for more money to continue our walk. These people were NOT affiliated with the pyramids in any way. I’m sure many travelers agreed to pay this unnecessary fee.
- In Istanbul, after negotiating the cab fare ($8.00 U.S.), I paid the driver with a ten dollar bill (to include the tip) when we arrived. He took the bill and turned away, and then turned back and showed me a one dollar U.S. bill and insisted that he received the wrong bill. It was apparent that it would be his word against mine, so I gave him another ten dollar bill.
- I had a male friend who visited Greece. Appearantly, while in a city, a group of little children suddenly crowded around him. They were really cute as they jumped up and down and acted merry with thier happy exclamations. Then, they ran off. My friend looked down at his waste, to find that his fanny pack, back pack, and pockets had been nearly emptied.
- Some people know how to rig ATM machines so they won’t give back your card after you insert it in the machine. When the machine freezes, someone comes over to “help” you and offers to fix it if you are able to enter your pin number. This will always be unsuccessful and you leave thinking nothing will work. As soon as you leave, they clean out your bank account.
Have you experienced a scam or know of one that we have not mentioned? We would love to hear about it so we could post it here and help other travelers out!