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Traveller Beware 12 Common Scams to be Aware of!

 

What makes tourists such a target for scams? If you are in a strange city, feeling (or looking) slightly disorientated, loaded down with desirable gadgets and a pocket full of cash, you can see why you may be targeted by prowling swindlers and scam artists. Even the most worldly-wise traveller may get conned by a few of these audacious tricks, so read on to make sure you don’t become the next victim.


1. Street Performers


We’ve all stopped to watch street entertainers, but they are not all as innocuous as they appear. While the performer engages you in a fun game or illusion, such as guessing which card is the ace, his accomplice is likely to be right behind you, picking your pockets.

 

2. Not-so-Free Services


Beware of “free” services. They might be a windscreen wash while you’re at a red light, an unsolicited massage on the beach, or a free shoe shine, sometimes to thank you for picking up the shoe brush he dropped at your feet. The act will be followed by a persistent and threatening demand for money. It can be an unnerving encounter, best avoided by declining firmly at the outset.
In a similar vein, rappers in New York City hand out what appears to be a free CD and then demand money, refusing to take it back. Don’t pay out of embarrassment; simply put the CD on the ground and walk away.

 

3. Monkey Business


You may be lured to hold a pet monkey or feed it tidbits, but these “little monkeys” are trained to steal your camera from round your neck, remove your glasses, or even deftly pick your pockets. The owner will offer to get the item back, but for a generous “tip”.

 

4. Camel Rides


In Egypt, there will be plenty of willing hands to help you mount the camel once you’ve paid the agreed fee. However, once there you may be held to ransom until you have paid another fee for the camel owner to order the camel to kneel down and allow you to get off.

 

5. The Dirty Jacket


You’re walking along enjoying the sights when you get food or a drink splashed on your jacket. People quickly offer to help clean up the mess with napkins, all the while patting you down and relieving you of your valuables. If this happens, assertively decline any help and make for a restroom or bathroom where you can clean up yourself. It’s cheaper in the long run.

 

6. Not-So-Helpful Taxi Drivers


Stay with your luggage when a taxi driver unloads them and offers to bring them into the hotel for you while you make your way to check in. You may find he drives off with at least one of your bags still in his possession. Try to note the taxi license number displayed in the cab during the journey – just in case.
Taxis provide many other opportunities for lightening your pockets. If you don’t know the area, the driver may take a long detour, or even load the meter with a toll or charge that is not applicable. In Bangkok it is common for tuk-tuk taxies to take you to your requested attraction, but on the way tell you that it is closed for a local holiday. They will offer to take you somewhere else – usually a friend’s jewellery shop or an alternative attraction that gives them a kickback.

 

7. Hire Cars


Nothing screams “tourist” louder than a hire car. Scam artists may puncture your tyre when your car is parked, and then follow you, flag you down and help you change the wheel. Other swindlers may deliberately bump you to get you to pull over. Make sure you stop in a well-lit area in such an emergency, where there are plenty of people to help you – and keep your eye on your luggage if it is unloaded to reach the spare tyre.

 

8. Fair Exchange…


There are all sorts of ways con artists get you to open your wallet. They may ask for change for a large note, or ask for a donation for coffee or a bus ticket. As you hand over the note, they ignore it and snatch your wallet.

 

9. The Photographer


How often has someone offered to take a photograph of you and your partner at a beauty spot? Be aware that once the snap has been taken, the generous stranger may demand money for the return of your expensive smartphone or camera, or they may just take off with it.

 

10. The Friendship Bracelet


Here’s one “friend” you can live without. The scam artist approaches and charmingly offers to make a friendship bracelet. Despite your protests, they begin weaving a pretty bracelet on your wrists. While you are incapacitated, the accomplice is free to pick your pockets clean.

 

11. Expensive Pizza Delivery


You may find a pizza flyer slipped under your hotel room door. When you place an order, and give your credit card details, it’s not a pizza that they charge to your account.

 

12. The Free Meal Scam


A common scam on American visitors in London is for a local to attach themselves to you as an amiable and friendly guide. They will walk with you, winning you over with some useful tips and lively local stories and will then suggest a wonderful (and expensive) place to have lunch. By now you’re perfectly comfortable in the company of your new local friend and enjoy the entertainment over drinks and a meal. At some stage, your “guide” will make an excuse to visit the bathroom, and will never be seen again, leaving you to settle the bill. Most tourists consider they got good entertainment value for their money, but it’s best to control the situation from the outset.


Stay alert, be naturally suspicious, and always think “scam”. That way the losses that befall other travellers will probably not happen to you.

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