Top 5 Tourist Scams
Scammers and con games are an unfortunate part of travelling, but knowing about the most common scams ahead of time is half the battle. Read on and arm yourself with knowledge!
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Scammers and con games are an unfortunate part of travelling. Many of us have dealt with the common tourist scams and have become wiser travellers as a result. Here are five tourist scams to watch out for on your next trip.
1. The Fake Money Scam
Even when you think you are excluded from the scam game, you are proved wrong. While in Bogotá, Colombia, my South American boyfriend was accused of paying for a hat with a fake bill. After arguing with the vendor in Spanish for a few minutes, we ultimately walked away unscathed. This scam is likely very common with foreigners who do not speak the local language.
Most travellers have probably dealt with the classic tourist photo scam. My first encounter happened right outside of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, when a group of middle-aged men dressed as gladiators literally took my camera out of my hands, snapped a photo and charged us five euros. Similar scams happen in most tourist traps so avoid these “photographers” at all costs.
3. The “I Don’t Speak English” Scam
While in Italy, my friend and I craved some gelato and tried to order. The shop owner made a huge scene about not understanding our English. He gave us the most expensive option on the menu and acted innocent when we explained the mix-up. After we shelled out more than 10 euros each, he suddenly began chatting in English.
4. The Unexpected Scammer
Sometimes it’s the most unexpected scammers that do the most amount of damage. This was especially true for me in Buenos Aires, Argentina, when a group of seemingly unthreatening kids surrounded me and tried to steal my smartphone. Luckily all ended well, but this sort of thing happens in many countries, so be wary about fiddling with your tech gear in broad daylight.
This particular scam is most commonly reported in Colombia. Unlike most cities in the United States and Canada, hailing a taxi on the street is not recommended in Colombia’s cities. In this scam, once passengers get in a cab, they are driven to a destination where two men jump in; the driver then heads to the nearest ATM, where they force the passengers to withdraw all their money. It’s best to get your hotel or restaurant to call a taxi for you in order to avoid this terrifying scam.
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