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30 TRAVEL SCAMS THAT WILL LEAVE YOU BROKE

Travel can open your eyes to new experiences, cuisine and cultures. However, it can also expose you to the ingenious tourist scams.

In fact, there’s nothing that dampens your trip more than a stolen wallet or being put in an uncomfortable situation that forces you to cough up the dosh.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Image of common travel scams that will make you broke

I’m sorry to break it to you but that overly friendly person isn’t interested in being your friend. Oh, what about the attractive woman that’s invited you to a bar with her? SCAM.

But, you travel smart. Right?

I totally, get it. However, these are professional con artists and they have been performing travel scams for years.

The first few times I figured out their process, I was actually kind of envious.

How are these people so genius?

No, but seriously. If you’ve travelled to a few destinations, things will start to click as you scroll down the list. I noticed a lot of these travel scams on my recent Europe trip. 

It can be a little disheartening. In fact, you’ll probably lose faith in humanity.

The folks at Just The Flight have put together a few common scams for tourists. As for the others in the list, I’ve experienced them myself. 

30 TRAVEL SCAMS THAT WILL LEAVE YOU BROKE

  1. THE FRIENDSHIP BRACELET

  • Where: Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Cairo

Someone will approach you with a friendship bracelet and attempt to put it on your wrist. They will then ask you for an obscene payment for the bracelet, or use this as a distraction while their accomplice pickpockets you.

  1. THE ROMANTIC ROSE

  • Where: Paris, Rome, Barcelona

A man will approach you while you’re with your girlfriend. He will ask you to pay for the rose for an obscene price and then make you feel guilty for refusing.

  1. THE LOST RING

  • Where: Paris

A woman will typically drop a ring in front of you and ask if it’s yours. When you say no, she will inspect the ring and attempt to prove that it is real gold. She will then offer to sell this “gold” ring to you for an obscene price.

  1. STREET GAMES

  • Where: Paris, London

A man will perform a magic trick or cup game on the side of the road. He will have accomplices disguised as tourists to spike the interests of people passing by. While you’re distracted, his accomplices will pickpocket you.

  1. THE FOUND WALLET

  • Where: Rome, Ukraine

An empty wallet that looks as if it has been stolen and dumped on the floor will be planted in a busy tourist area. When a tourist walks past, it is instinct to check your own wallet to make sure it’s safe. An onlooker will take note of where you checked and will know exactly where to feel for when he pickpockets you down the track.

  1. STAIN ON YOUR JACKET

  • Where: Buenos Aires, Rio De Janeiro

Someone will purposely spill something on you by “bumping” into you. They will then attempt to help you clean it, and proceed to steal what’s in your pockets.

  1. THE SHOE SHINER

  • Where: Istanbul

A man will drop a shoe brush in front of you. When you pick it up for him, he will begin to shine your shoes as an appreciation gesture. He will then demand money for his services.

  1. WOMAN SELLING ROSEMARY

  • Where: Madrid, New Delhi

An elderly woman will offer you a sprig of rosemary as a friendship offering. She will then grab your hand and offer to read your fortune. If you do not pay her for her services, she will begin cursing and making a scene.

  1. THE PHOTOGRAPHER 

  • Where: Europe

When you’re taking photos, a friendly local will come over and offer to take a photo of you and your company together. He will then demand payment for his service or run off with your camera.

  1. THE MUSIC ARTIST

  • Where: New York

A friendly, aspiring musician will offer you his seemingly free CD as you walk past. He will engage in conversation with you and then demand payment for his CD. Him and his friends will intimidate you if you refuse to pay.

  1. SKIMMER ATMS

  • Where: Europe

The card slot to the ATM will have a skimmer installed. The skimmer will read your card details and allow someone to access your account. Always check the flimsiness of the card slot before inserting your card. Skimmers are often just glued over the real slots.

  1. THE DRUG DEAL

  • Where: Thailand

Tuk Tuk or taxi drivers will offer you drugs if you’re on your way to a party or night out. When you accept them, a fake police officer will coincidentally be walking past and catch you. They will order you to pay a large fine to avoid jail.

  1. THE EXPENSIVE TAXI

  • Where: Worldwide

Some taxi drivers will take advantage of your lack of knowledge for the area. They will deliberately take longer and busier routes to increase your fare time.

  1. THE DROP AND SWAP

  • Where: Asia, Europe

Taxi drivers and shop keepers will pretend to accidentally drop your change and then pick up a similar (less worthy) coin or note instead. Taxi drivers are also notorious for pretending to drop your change and then swapping for a fake note (often physically smaller than the original).

  1. TRAIN PICKPOCKETS

Where: Everywhere

Pickpockets will choose peak hours to ride the trains. As everyone is forced to stand in close proximity to others, they will use this to their advantage to pickpocket your belongings.

  1. THE GOOD SAMARITAN 

  • Where: Europe

Locals will hang around the train station doors and insist on helping lift your bag into the overhead compartments. They will then demand an obscene amount of money for their services.

  1. THE SLOW COUNTER

  • Where: Worldwide

When a cashier is returning your change, they will often count your change exceptionally slowly. Their aim is for the tourist to become frustrated at the process and accept whatever is finally given to them. The amount is often less than what is owed.

  1. THE TRUSTED FRIEND APPROACH 

  • Where: Marrakech

The most terrifying travel scam. A friendly local will take note of tourists that seem lost. They will offer to take you into the main area. Their accomplices are waiting at every corner to “hassle” you into buying their products. The friendly local will appear protective of you and tell those hassling to leave you alone. This is to establish trust. He will then continue to take you into an alley, where his friends are waiting to rob you.

  1. THE BEGGAR

  • Where: Worldwide

A street beggar, often an elderly or pregnant woman, will often guilt you into handing over money. This is seemingly harmless, except a pickpocket is watching you from a distance.

  1. THE FLIRT

  • Where: Worldwide

An attractive woman will prey on solo male travellers. She will flirt with him and ask him to go to a bar with her. The bar workers will be working alongside her and will present him with a hefty bill at the end of the night.

  1. FREE PEANUTS

Where: Rio De Janeiro

A man will interrupt your meal at a restaurant and offer you peanuts. He will pour them onto the table and as soon as you touch one, he will demand payment.

  1. THE POSTCARD

  • Where: Rome

A poor looking kid will ask for help to write a letter. He will tell you about his poverty and guilt trip you into handing him money.

  1. GYPSY KIDS

  • Where: Europe

A group of poor looking kids will approach you and act very interested in you. They will attempt to distract you by showing you a trick or their creation. The other kids will pickpocket you.

  1. THE ONLINE HOTEL SCAM

Where: Europe

Your taxi driver will convince you that your hotel is closed for renovations and that you were scammed online. He will drive you to another place that you can stay. The hotel will be ridiculously overpriced and the “staff” will be in on the scam.

  1. THE VIP TICKET

  • Where: Las Vegas

People pretending to be club promoters will stand on the bustling nightlife strip and offer you VIP tickets to exclusive clubs and parties. They will offer you these tickets for a fraction of the price, however they will not work.

  1. FAKE FRONT DESK CALL

  • Where: Worldwide

An identity thief will call your hotel room pretending to be the front desk. They will explain that there has been an issue with your credit card details and if you would kindly reconfirm them.

  1. THE FAKE TAKEAWAY MENU

Where: USA

Con artists will slide fake takeaway menus under your hotel door. If you order, you wont receive any food. However, you will receive a huge bank statement when they run off with your card details you’ve given over the phone to secure your order.

  1. THE HENNA WOMEN
  • Where: Morocco

A mob of friendly and flamboyant women will approach you and tell you how beautiful you are. They will grab your hand and attempt to do henna. They will insist that it is for free. After they’ve finished they will demand payment.

  1. THE GANG

  • Where: Morocco

As you stroll through the busy markets, a gang of young men will form a “subtle” barrier to block you from walking further. You will try and dodge them but there are a few of them. They will pickpocket you as you become distressed with attempting to break free.

  1. PHOTOS WITH CHARACTERS

  • Where: Rome

Con artists will dress up as characters that relate to the historic monument, such a medieval characters. Tourists are often tempted to take a harmless photo with them. Once you’ve taken a photo, they will harass you until you pay.

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