Admiring the beautiful Eiffel Tower with your girlfriend and suddenly a man appears and offers a rose to your girlfriend. Your girlfriend accepts it, but in-lieu, the man demands a price from you. He plays on your insecurity and inability to buy a rose for your girlfriend and makes you feel like a bad boyfriend… In the end, you pay the price of rose, totally making a fool of yourself. Well, don’t worry, you’re not alone in this world. In fact, you are among several tourists conned each day, by overtly friendly locals and their unsuspecting scams!
Apart from the usual pick-pocketing, overcharged cabs, and fake souvenirs, travellers are now contending with new emerging and unsuspecting travel scams. Beware! Read about these 10 scams and prevent yourself from getting conned!
10 Common but Unsuspecting Travel Scams
1. The Friendship Bracelet
A friendly and smiling local approaches you and offers you a friendship band, promising lifelong friendship. Despite your refusal, the man ties the band on your wrist and then shows his true colours by demanding money for it! The worst-case scenario is, theft of your wallet and expensive gadgets from your bag. Highly prevalent in cities like Paris, Rome, Barcelona, and Cairo.
2. The Found Ring
A woman will drop a ring in front of you and ask if you dropped it. You will say no, but then she will pick the ring and inspect it and prove that it’s made of gold, which is clearly not the case. She will offer to sell it to you at a much higher cost than it’s worth. Curb your greed and enthusiasm and walk away politely, especially in Paris.
3. Rose for your girlfriend
As already covered in the intro of this post, a rose for your girlfriend from a friendly local and then a demand for money in return, is something very common in Paris, Rome, and Barcelona. Stay clear of this scam and do inform your girlfriend to politely refuse free roses from unsuspecting locals!
4. Street Games
It’s a common sight in Paris and London, where a man is performing street games with cups and balls or find your card among the three cards. You will see the person is surrounded by locals, encouraging you to join in the game. At first, you will win, and they will continue to cheer you, only to lose your entire game earnings at one go. This is a very common scam and the worst-case scenario is getting pick-pocketed while your focus is engaged on the game.
5. The Dropped Wallet
This scam is a simple psychological set-up, common in cities like Rome and Ukraine. An empty wallet is placed on the ground. Tourists roaming around will look at the empty wallet and immediately check-up on their wallets. Scammers will closely watch the tourists, observing where they keep their wallets. Next, they will simply barge into you or distract you with some scam and in the process, will lift the wallet!
6. Stain on Jacket
Someone will deliberately spill ketchup, paint, ink, or fake bird poop subtly or by bumping into you. The concerned person, with a troubled and embarrassed expression, will point out the stain on your jacket and will offer to wipe it clean. However, in the process, they will nick your phone, wallet, or whatever belongings are there in your jacket’s pocket. This scam is highly prevalent in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.
7. The Photographer
A friendly-looking person will appear and offer to take your couple or group pictures. However, there is a catch – the person will demand money, which is better than having the stranger run off with your expensive camera or smartphone! Be careful when clicking snaps in Europe and only ask a fellow tourist to click your couple or group pictures.
8. The Music Artist
While walking in the streets of New York, a friendly musician will approach you and ask you to check out his music. He will plead you to take his free music CDs and play it in your home country. Once you take the CD, he will show his true colours by demanding money for the free CD. If you refuse, he will intimidate you with his group of accomplices who are usually standing nearby. The worst-case scenario is you will be mugged, thrashed, and robbed of your valuables.
9. The Flirt
Solo travellers, be careful while travelling to Athens, Budapest, and other Eastern European cities. An attractive woman will approach a solo traveller and start flirting casually. She will ask the person to grab a beer or a drink. She will pick the bar of her choice and will drink free beers and drinks. Next, she will excuse herself under some pretext and disappear, leaving you with an exorbitant bill, which you will have to pay in order to get out of the pub and reach your hotel safely.
10. The charity petitions
A group of children or adults will come and ask you to sign their charity petitions, asking you to make some small donations to their noble cause. However, nothing is noble in this fake scam! When you are reading the petition carefully, the kids rummage through your bags, picking up valuables and gadgets. Simply avoid signing any charity petitions in Paris.