Caution, Scams You May Encounter on Your Vacation
Travelers are all prime for hustlers and scammers world wide. Everyone who has been on the road can recount a personal story of being a ‘mark’ while away from home.
The 1st and only time it happened to me was in Mexico City 50 years ago on Paseo de Reforma for a $5.00 shoe shine from a boy about 7 anni, I got the shine, paid him double and sent him on his way.
There is a lot we know about common scams, below are a few to look out for along the road, as follows:
The Friendship Bracelet
This classic scam thrives in big European cities, and often targets female travelers. A happy-looking stranger will approach you and attempt to tie a ‘free’ bracelet around your wrist. Once attached, the person will then demand a payment for the bracelet making a noisy fuss if you say No.
Avoid this by walking past anyone that you might suspect and keep your hands in your pockets if they try to follow you.
I Found a Ring
Another favorite of well-trained scammers. Out of the blue a person will appear by your side and point to a ring on the floor. They will pick it up and try to convince you that it’s yours and subsequently ask for a reward. Or the perp might try talking you into believing that the item is of great value but be willing to sell it at a discounted price.
Do not engage, walk away.
The Too Friendly Strangers
Travelers, especially men, are particularly targeted for this trick. You land in a new country and unexpectedly receive non-stop attention in a bar or nightclub. After a fun evening and racking up a hefty bar tab, your new drinking partner is suddenly nowhere to be seen. Now you are left to pay the bill, and you might already have been robbed of your cash.
Do not open your bar tab or wallet to strangers.
You Need a Shoe Shine Mister
If you are in Mexico City or Istanbul pay special attention to this come on. A shoe shiner walks past you and drops a brush. Being the polite and helpful, you pick it up and return it. To show their gratitude, the shoe shiner will start to clean your shoes. This may seem like a nice gesture but chances are high that they will then demand payment. Refusal could mean being surrounded by the city’s entire shoe shine brigade.
Ignore the shoe shiner, never pick up the brush.
The Dishonest Taxi Driver
Dishonest taxi drivers are the Tops. You are told that the meter is broken the moment you leave an airport or bus/terminal and then be quoted an astronomical price. Another is your driver getting lost on purpose in order for the meter to keep ticking for a few extra miles. Extreme cases might see a driver speed off with your luggage still inside the car. A South American favorite is to be informed that you have paid with fake bills. When you ask for the money back the driver will give back a fake one; you say sorry, hand over a new one and end up paying 2X.
Bird Sh-t on Your Show
The sh-t on the shoe scam is common trick to watch out for in busy tourist areas. As always seems to be the case, a bystander will let you know that you have some bird poop/ketchup/mud on your shoe/sock/leg and offer you a tissue to clean it with. As you both bend to inspect the mess, a crafty hand will pick valuable items from your pocket/bag.
Politely decline and walk on.
Sorry, We are Overbooked
Taxi driver strikes again, while driving to your accommodation, the driver will do their best to convince you that you hotel no longer exists or is full to capacity. If you take their word then they’ll whisk you off to another place, which is likely to be more expensive and owned by one of their friends/accomplices. After you check in, the cab driver depart with a commission.
Contact your hotel prior to arrival to confirm your booking and to find out if they offer a pick-up service.
The Slip and FallWoman
That poor lady slips and falls in front of you. You stop to help, a crowd has formed and your pockets get emptied. Before you know it, the crowd has dispersed, including that nice old lady that fell.
Make sure your personal items are secure so you can help the fallen person without fear.
Tuk-tuks are 1 of the most fun ways to move around busy cities in Southeast Asian countries. Bit be wary of drivers that offer sightseeing day tours. You will visit temples and landmarks but you’ll probably also be dropped off at a tailor or a jewelry shop listening to the shop owner offering their bespoke services. Driver get commissions for bringing customers.
Have a happy time when you travel, do not get taken in by the wily scammer.