On Set in Rio with Scam City’s Conor Woodman
In this Travel+Escape exclusive interview, Scam City host Conor Woodman talks about getting scammed in the world’s sexiest city, Rio de Janeiro.
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Rio de Janeiro in Brazil is one of the world’s liveliest and most passionate cities, and home to one of the world’s biggest parties—and sneakiest scam artists. In this exclusive interview, Scam City host Conor Woodman tells us about his adventures in the city of Carnival.
They call Rio Carnival the best party on earth; would you agree?
Yes. No doubt. They put a whole year’s worth of planning into it and then the whole city shuts down for four days (or more) just to go crazy. If you’ve never been, then go!
What did you enjoy the most in Rio?
I’m a big fan of the whole churrascaria experience. Some of the meat in those places is to die for. I’d come to Rio just for the food.
What was your favourite tourist attraction in Rio?
The beach. I’m an Ipanema man.
What would you warn tourists about visiting Rio?
Have fun, but don’t carry anything you can’t afford to lose.
What scams do you think are most widespread around the world?
Every culture is different and that means their scams are too. But I’m starting to see patterns emerge. In South America, for example, the taxi drivers are very quick to switch notes on you. They’re like amateur magicians.
“In Rio, scamming is simply a way of life for lots of ordinary folk.”
What did you see in Rio that you think tourists wouldn’t always see?
What the reality of life is like for people who live in the favellas. Junior gave me a glimpse into another world.
Who did you most enjoy meeting in Rio?
Junior of course! He’s a rogue, but a loveable one.
What did you think of the city overall?
I love Rio. It’s one of my favourite cities in the world.
Are there any scams you would have liked to go into more depth with?
I’d like to have gotten further with finding who is really funding the Carnival. I think I unturned a few stones but there are a few more to go.
Did you ever feel insecure in Rio?
When there are guns and drugs around, you’re always going to be on your guard.
Are you enjoying the undercover filming or does it make you nervous of discovery?
Of course there’s always a danger when you film criminals, especially without their knowledge, but we’re always very thorough in our preparation so as to minimize as much risk as possible. But yes, it is exciting.
“When there are guns and drugs around, you’re always going to be on your guard.”
12. What did you find most interesting about the scammers you met?
In Rio, scamming is simply a way of life for lots of ordinary folk, so it was probably their ‘ordinariness.’
13. Is there anywhere you wish you could have gone or visited in Rio?
I had to leave before the crew went up in a helicopter to get aerial shots of the city. That would have been ace!
14. Who were the worst scammers in Rio?
The people behind the Jogo da Bicho. I don’t trust any lottery that happens at a secret time and place.
15. Would you return to Rio?
Try and stop me!