Travelers have to be really careful nowadays. It seems that everywhere you turn, there’s someone looking to take your money. Scam artists get really creative with their money-taking tactics, too.
Keep reading to learn all about the ways people try to take your hard-earned cash while you’re out exploring the world. Knowledge really is the best weapon against these scams.
The Friendship Bracelet
In places such as Paris, Rome, Barcelona, and Cairo, people will come up to you and tie a friendship bracelet around your wrist. They’ll say that the bracelet is free, but while you’re occupied, their accomplices will try to pickpocket you.
A Rose For The Lady
In Paris, Barcelona, and Rome, people will come up to couples and try to get the man to buy some roses for the woman he’s traveling with. If he refuses, they’ll yell at him for being a bad boyfriend.
The Thrown Baby
In Rome, a woman will yell and throw a “baby” at you. When you drop everything to catch it, her accomplices will rush in and steel your belongings. The “baby” is often just a doll wrapped in a blanket.
In places such as Paris and London, a street performer will play some ball and cup games or perform magic tricks surrounded by a crowd of accomplices. Tourists get drawn in by the crowd, and while they’re distracted, the accomplices take their stuff.
The Dropped Wallet
In Rome and Ukraine, con artists will drop empty wallets on the street. When a tourist sees a wallet on the street, they instinctively touch their pocket or wherever they keep their wallet. This lets the scammers know where the wallet is so they can easily steal it later.
The Shoe Shiner
In Istanbul, a man with a shoe shine business will drop a brush right in front of you. When you pick it up and give it back to him, he’ll thank you and offer to shine your shoes “for free.” After he’s done, he’ll demand money for the service.
Women Giving Out Rosemary
In places such as Madrid and New Delhi, women will hand out sprigs of rosemary to people who look like tourists. They’ll then say that the rosemary is a token of friendship, grab your hand, and start reading your palm. Afterwards they’ll demand money for the service, and if you refuse they’ll start cursing your family.
You should be a little suspicious of people who offer to take a photo for you in Europe. Some of those seemingly nice people are scam artists who will demand money from you afterward and threaten to run away with your camera.
A Drug Heist
In Koh Phangan, tuk-tuk drivers or taxi drivers will offer you drugs if they’re driving you to a destination later at night. Then their accomplice dressed as a police officer will pull them over and search the vehicle. They will ask you to pay a large fine, and if you don’t pay, they’ll threaten you with jail time.
The Expensive Taxi Driver
Some taxi drivers will take advantage of tourists who don’t know their way around a given city. They’ll purposefully take them on a longer route or through high traffic areas in order to get more money out of them.
The Overnight Bus
In Bangkok, people offer to give tourists rides from city to city on a very cheap overnight bus. The bus might be cheap, but while those tourists are asleep, the pickpocketing and rummaging begin.
The Punctured Tire
In San José, scam artists target rented cars and purposefully puncture their tires. They’ll then flag you down and offer to replace the tire for free. While you’re distracted, one of them will go through your car and steal any valuables.
Slow Counting Cashiers
It is common in Europe for cashiers to count your change super slowly. They’re doing this so you’ll get fed up with them and leave in a hurry without counting your change yourself. They’ll give you less cash back than you should receive.
An Amazing Jewelry Deal
In Bangkok and New Delhi, it’s common for tuk-tuk drivers to tell you that your destination is closed, but they can bring you to a top tourist destination instead. They’ll take you to a friendly man who is selling jewelry for apparently unbelievable prices. Don’t believe him. Most of it is fake.
The Fake Policemen
In Mexico City, Bogotá, Bucharest, and Bangkok, people dressed as fake police officers will ask to see your wallet because they’re investigating some counterfeit money that’s been circulating in the area. While going through your wallet, they’ll sneak a few bills out.
The Helpful Local
All over Europe, there are scam artists located at train stations waiting for people who are having trouble with the automated ticket machines. They’ll offer to help, but in the process, they’ll take note of your pin code for your credit card.
The Map Sellers
In Europe, a con artist will approach you to try to sell you paper maps. They’ll unfold the map in front of your face as a distraction while their accomplices go pick your pockets.
A Team Of Beggars
Often beggars and scam artists will work in teams. An elderly or pregnant beggar might approach you asking for money. When you take out your wallet, the other team members will be taking note of where you keep it so they can steal it later.
A Free Massage
In tropical areas such as Barbados and the Bahamas, a man will approach you while you’re relaxing on the beach and offer you a free sample massage. He’ll give you a massage and claim he gave you more than a sample and demand a rather high fee.
The Broken Camera
In various countries around the world, scam artists will ask you to take a photo for them. The camera won’t work, and when you go to hand it back, they’ll cause the camera to smash on the ground. Then they’ll demand that you give them money to replace the camera.
Students Eager To Learn
In Shanghai, Beijing, and Xian, young, innocent looking girls will come up to you and ask if they can practice their English with you. Then they’ll tel you some kind of sob story and invite you out to their favorite café. They’ll order a ton of stuff and disappear before the bill arrives.
In Rio de Janeiro, a man will approach you while you’re sitting at a table and offer you some seemingly free peanuts. He’ll pour some on your table and as soon as you touch one, he’ll ask for payment.
The Postcard Trick
In Rome, it’s common for poor looking kids to shove a postcard and a pen in your face and ask for help writing in English. They’ll tell you a long sob story and guilt you into giving them money.
The Closed Hotel
Taxi drivers in Europe often convince tourists that their hotels are closed and then convince them to stay at another, ridiculously overpriced location run by local tricksters. The taxi driver gets a cut of the profits.
The Room Inspectors
In Barcelona and Madrid, people dressed as hotel employees will knock on your door and say that they’re there to do a routine room inspection. While you’re distracted, they’ll take your valuables.
The Fake Menu
Scam artists in America have been known to slip fake take-out menus under hotel room doors, hoping that people will feel too tired to go to a restaurant. They’ll collect payment over the phone and then never show up with the food. They’ll also steal your credit card information.
The Fake Front Desk Call
Another common scam is for a thief to call your hotel room pretending to be from the front desk. He’ll say that there’s an issue with your reservation and ask for your credit card details. They often call late at night when people are unlikely to actually walk down to the real front desk.
A Found Ring
In Paris, scam artists have been known to place rings on the ground, pick them up, and ask if they belong to tourists. When the tourists say no, they try to sell them the ring, claiming that it’s real gold when it really isn’t.
In Europe, pickpockets will pretend to be helpful locals. They’ll tell you that they’ve just seen someone steal your wallet. When you instinctively reach for the place you keep your wallet, they find out where your wallet is so they can steal it later.
A Stained Shirt
In Buenos Aires and Rio De Janeiro, scam artists will purposefully bump into you and spill something on your clothes. They’ll then apologize and offer to help you clean the stain. While they’re wiping your clothes clean, they’ll go through your pockets.