On Set in Spain with Scam City’s Conor Woodman
Pickpockets, prostitutes and police—it’s all in a day’s work for Scam City host Conor Woodman. Here, he tells us what it was like to film (and go undercover as a transexual prostitute!) in Barcelona, Spain.
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In Barcelona, Spain, Scam City host Conor Woodman found pickpockets, went undercover as a prostitute and was detained by police. In this T+E online exclusive, he shares his thoughts on Barcelona’s underbelly in the latest episode of Scam City.
You’ve previously said Barcelona is the worst for scams. Why is that?
The law in Barcelona is such that thieves who are caught with less than €400 can’t be sent to jail. That’s encouraged pickpockets from all over Europe to relocate to the city.
What surprised you about Barcelona?
Even in mid-winter, Barcelona is buzzing with activity. It’s a 365-days-a-year party town.
After seven shows, is this starting to put you off travelling for good?
No. Never. There are criminals and scammers everywhere. Even back home in little old London Town.
Are you seeing particular scams at particular places, and do you think this has anything to do with the culture of the countries?
Certainly. The prevalence of guns in South America, for example, means that their crimes are much heavier. In Barca, it tends to be much more petty crime.
“The scammers won’t target locals, so if you’re a tourist, you’re always susceptible.”
Was there anything you particularly enjoyed in Barcelona?
I just love the vibe. Barca seems to have a much younger population than most towns. That gives it a unique energy.
Who was the most interesting person you met in Barcelona?
Mariana. I’ve never hung out with an Ecuadorian transexual prostitute before.
Do you think you could run a few scams yourself now after meeting with so many scammers?
What? And give up my day job? Never!
What was the most stunning place you visited in Barcelona?
My bed! This was a really demanding shoot. We worked around the clock, so every time I managed to see my bed, I was thrilled!
Have you been surprised by the scams you’ve found in Barcelona?
I was amazed at how prolific the pickpockets were. These guys are like hyenas hunting down their prey. In just a couple of hours they pickpocketed around 15 people.
“I’ve never hung out with an Ecuadorian transexual prostitute before.”
Did you enjoy dressing up in Barcelona?
Oh yes. I’ve still got the shoes. Just need to find the right occasion to wear them to!
Could you sympathize with any of the scammers in Barcelona? Is there any justification for what they do?
Not really. Youth unemployment is over 50% in Spain right now, so it’s tough for young people. But what these guys do still hurts people. I can appreciate their skill but can’t condone what they do.
Did you ever feel in any danger in Barcelona?
Only from the police. We weren’t arrested but the police detained us for a while. I was worried we’d miss the next shoot.
“I was amazed at how prolific the pickpockets were. These guys are like hyenas hunting down their prey.”
Would you return to Barcelona on holiday?
Yes. Any time.
What would you tell tourists to watch out for in Barcelona?
The wallets and purses and bags and pockets. Thieves are everywhere. Put all your valuables in a safe place and keep your eye on it.
What’s the number one thing that tourists do in Barcelona that makes them susceptible to being scammed?
Being a tourist. The scammers won’t target locals, so if you’re a tourist, you’re always susceptible.