10 Common Travel Scams and How to Avoid Them

You will meet friendly locals while on the road, however not everyone is as genuine as they seem. Stay alert and safe with these tips to avoid the 10 most common travel scams.

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How to hold onto your money - we look at common travel scams. Photo © GettyImages/Abraham

1. The Sauce Trick

Essentially, the method is to divert your attention away from your valuables and onto something else. The crook squirts or spills sauce on you. They then point it out, offering to help clean it off you. Meanwhile they fleece you of your wallet or their accomplice does.

Other ways pickpockets will trick you include being jostled by local kids, someone faking falling over, being wooed by a local or having a cat/baby thrown at you. The trick here is to treat anything unusually diverting as a pickpocket attempt.

2. Money Changing

The good old note switch-a-roo happens everywhere. The shop keeper or taxi driver gives you less change than you are supposed to get. Or they will quickly switch a 50 for a 5 and then claim you haven't given them enough. You approach the foreign exchange booth and ask to change money. During the changeover, the clerk switches similar notes and you end up with less than you paid for.

Make sure you check your money before you leave and don't let them rush you during the process. It's vital that you keep your eyes peeled, as many currencies have denominations which appear similar in color and design.

Tip: Never accept torn, worn or damaged notes. They can be difficult to get rid of later.

3. Dodgy Tours

Always travel with a well established tour company so you know that you'll get what you pay for and your safety will be of primary concern. Do your research, check reviews and ask your accommodation for recommendations. Always book through reputable websites and operators. Traveling with a dodgy operator could see you stranded, injured, sick, or at the very least, fleeced of some of your holiday funds.

4. Taxi and Tuk Tuk Scams

Drivers overcharging travelers with extortionate fares, claims the meter is broken, unlicensed drivers touting for fares at the airport, taking you on the least direct route... these are just some of the ways you can be scammed by drivers as you try to get around.

Sometimes the taxi driver may also be in cahoots with restaurant owners, shop keepers or attractions and will tell you that whatever place is closed when you ask to go there, instead taking you to an alternative place where the driver receives a kick back for bringing business. Be firm but polite about where you want to go, and if they don't want to take you, get out and find someone else who will.

Always call for a licensed taxi or hail one from an official rank. If you are traveling by tuk-tuk, ask your accommodation if they have a prefered driver. Your accommodation, tour guide or fellow travelers will know how much a fare should cost, and use Google maps if you suspect that the driver is taking a less direct route.

As tempting as the cheap fare or deal may be, avoid getting into unlicensed taxis. In some parts of the world, such as Latin America, it can be the starting point for an express kidnapping.

5. Ticket Scams

You arrive at the bus terminal and someone approaches you with tickets to sell, claiming they are at a discounted rate or that you can jump the ticket queue. You purchase a ticket only to find out when you board the bus that it's fake and unvalid. The seller? Nowhere to be seen and your money is gone.

Some of these sellers even go to the length of dressing official. Always buy your tickets from an official ticket booth or window. 

6. Fake Cops

Fake cops appear to be everywhere around the world and travelers will often be scammed by these faux authorities to make a quick buck. Most of the time their modus operandi is to ask you for your personal ID and then issue you a fine for no good reason, indicating that it can be paid on the spot or asking for a bribe to get your ID back. Because you don't want to get into trouble you naturally pay up. Sometimes they are uniformed, other times they are plain clothed.

Real police may ask you for your personal ID but they will never ask you to pay the fine on the spot. If you are approached by someone looking official, show them your ID but never give it to them. Ask for their ID too. If they issue you with a fine, tell them you will go to the police station to deal with the matter. The fake ones will usually hightail out out of there. 

7. Rental Scam

Whether it's a jetski in Thailand or renting a scooter in Mykonos, the old scam of "you damaged it, you pay" is universal. Traveler hires the vehicle and upon return is met with demands for payment for existing damage on it. Your passport may be held and the police may be called. Before hiring any vehicle or equipment, inspect it and take photos of the existing damage, showing the hire operator.

8. Bar Scam

You arrive in a new country, decide to head out and experience the nightlife by grabbing a drink at the local bar. A friendly local comes up to you and strikes up a conversation. As the night wears on and the drinks flow, eventually the local disappears, leaving you with an unpleasant surprise - a huge, overpriced bar bill or your wallet has been pickpocketed. Always keep an eye on your valuables and drinks. Keep a track of how much you are drinking. Only pay for what you consume, and don't open up a bar tab.

9. Border Scam

This scam often happens in tandem with fake police or officials. You arrive at a border crossing only to be approached by a "visa official" offering to process your entry visa only that they will rip you off on the fee. Sometimes they will also offer you free transport into the city to sweeten the deal. Always go to the official border office to get your visa and know what the visa fee is before you pay.

10. Fake Souvenirs

Is that Indigenous carving or painting authentic? Has it been locally crafted? Are the materials sustainably sourced? Unfortunately no matter where you travel in the world, you will often come across handicrafts and goods which aren't made by local artisans, instead labeled as the real thing and mass produced in a factory elsewhere. These mass produced items are created by workers who are often poorly paid and have poor working conditions. Learn more on how to shop for souvenirs sustainably and ethically here.

Have you been scammed while traveling? Let us know about your experience in the comments section below.

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42 Comments

  • boba said

    Beware of the smooth character who engages in too familiar conversation, guiding you to the nearest cafe where they buy you tea/coffe/drink. Leaving some time later with well meaning handshakes or hugs.<br>Shortly after you will be approached by two or more slick characters in sun glasses claiming to be undercover cops investigating known drug offenders. your destination the local slammer, which you of course never reach because you are invited to part with a nice slice of bread to save the embarrasment.

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  • Colin R. Houlihan said

    I think if you have a decent virus program it should <br>help you a great deal

    Reply

  • Amy said

    On a trip to Italy with my father a few years ago, we were walking around the old forum in Rome when a very nice driver pulled up beside us and asked for directions to the airport. Of course, being tourists, we didn't know, although my dad made a very nice attempt to guess which way the airport was. As a token of his appreciation, the driver then produced two "authentic" leather jackets to give to us and asked us to make a small offer. Although I clearly knew it was a scam, my naive father gave in and gave the man 20 euros... Pretty dumb scam overall but I give the guy props for originality!

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  • Paris daytripper said

    Probably it is old news, and most probably the same scam can be observed in many other cities in Europe. This Easter during quite a pleasant walk on gravel pathways along the Seine in Paris we saw gypsie women miraculously finding thick 'gold' rings. It looked like each operate on the same patch at some distance from the others, but still way too obvious. <br>We did not experiment what the scam was about in detail - either they pick your pockets while you try to explain them that you have not lost anything or maybe they simply try to sell the junk for some 10 or 20 EUR to the occasional not so smart, but greedy person. We just signalled clearly to the ones who tried not even to come near with their 'finding' so we were fine. It is probably impossible to stop this kind of activity as such by legal means in a democracy so the best you can do is to steer clear from these colourful ladies. Definitely do not try to play the good Samaritan and engage in assisting them, they will get you in one way or other.

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    • Melissa said

      Saw this ring scam and the petition scam while in Paris. Had it started on me but the women I was with were world travelers and just shuffled me away explaining the scam (ring) as they did. One word of warning. Never carry a small shoulder bag and set it down. Not even in a restaurant where while you are engaged with your companions it mysteriously disappears. This happened to a friend while we were waiting to meet friends for the theatre.

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  • Mark said

    I was in Ho Chi Minh city and a nice man approached me and was asking where I was from and I told him Canada. He then proceeded to tell me that his sister was a nurse and that she was planning to move to Canada and he invited me to meet his sister at their place. The taxi comes, and his "sister" gets in...an absolute stunner I might add. I eat dinner and then get invited to play a game of cards, but just for fun, no money involved. The guy proceeds to tell me that he is a dealer in a casino and that he has a system to beat the house at the casino he works at but none of his family members can enter the casino and it is up to me. My BS alarm was going off... the thought of ripping off a casino and getting caught in Vietnam and going to jail for a long time didn't appeal to me. Then the guyu mentions that a sucker acquaintance of his is coming over and we start having a game of cards. He even fronts me $100 saying it isn't mine to worry about. At this point my BS alarm is at full alert. I figured out that it wasn't the card game that I would be playing at the casino that was the scam, it was the game tonight. I quickly realize this and try to figure out a way to get out. My new "friend" who was the "sister" was almost with her hands down my pants at this point. In a moment of sheer brilliance I put my horniness aside and realized that the whole thing was a scam. I stepped out and hailed a taxi and was out of there...at the same time I was kicking myself for letting this hot sister go. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had been had. But they didn't get any money out of me so it is all good. I scammed the scammers out of the meal and got a taxi ride around Saigon to boot.

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  • brian said

    i had the nurse sister scam attempted on me too but didn't fall for it, though i would have met his sister if she had come to a coffee shop so i could give her advice about vancouver. when i met him later and she was not there i quickly declined to go. thinking about it later i was angry. although i appreciate a good scam because someone has tuned into human nature, it seemed this one presented a real physical danger. glad to hear that it not as serious as i thought

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  • Julia said

    My mum and I were traveling on a bus in Rome when a very friendly man enquired as to where we were headed and offered us directions. After briefly showing my mum which stop to get off the bus on her map, he said that the next stop was his, and quickly jumped off. When my mum and I followed his directions, we soon found ourselves at the wrong stop, with her wallet no where to be found. It seemed that while we were distracted by our new "tour guide", a group of two or three men had gathered round us and helped themselves to my mum's bag.

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  • Catherine said

    I was in Madrid with my family, just about to go into one of the museums when 2 young spanish teens came up to us and shoved a large map in my dad's face. Whilst one was asking for directions, the other was trying to help herself to the contents of my dad's money bag. My mum spotted this and yelled at the girls who quickly scarpered. Only when we turned round to see where they'd gone, we saw them getting told off by some guy (probably their boss) for having got caught trying to mug my dad!!

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  • manyvisitors said

    i had the nurse sister scam attempted on me too but didn't fall for it, though i would have met his sister if she had come to a coffee shop so i could give her advice about vancouver. when i met him later and she was not there i quickly declined to go. thinking about it later i was angry. although i appreciate a good scam because someone has tuned into human nature, it seemed this one presented a real physical danger. glad to hear that it not as serious as i thought

    Reply

    • Terry said

      I had the same experience with the nurse sister scam In Ho Chi Minh City.They were a Philippino couple who sat across from me at a cafe.He was very friendly,overly so,which started my alarm bells ringing.He gave me the same story about having a niece who was a nurse going to Australia and needing advice.I told him i didnt want to go to her house and then he acts all offended and says something like "Dont you like Asians".I said it was not about that,im just not interested.Very soon after they left.I knew it was some kind of scam.

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  • MIk said

    AUG 2010. After traveling to Rome and Paris (at the Louvre and in Rome over to the Island) There are 2/3 guys with a table and official looking forms, asking to sign a petition with regards to Africa (or another country/cause), once you sign, they tell you, you have to donate, they have people down for 10,20,50 Euros. we only gave them 5 euros and got done the once. these people come across as your best friends. I told the next mob that I already donated to the other guys.

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  • Justin said

    Beware the steps of the Sacre de Cour, Monmarte, Paris. A large gang "selling" friendship bracelets has established itself. If/when you get past them it's a lovely place but they are very very insistent.

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  • James said

    In Paris we encountered two of the scams. At almost every tourist attraction, there were groups of gypsies trying to get you to sign petitions with your full name and address, and at he Eifel Tower we encountered Africans, claiming to be Jamaicans but speaking Swahili to each other, claiming they wanted to show you a magic trick. The trick was them tying a piece of string around your finger, making a bracelet out of it and then getting you to buy it. Man were they pissed off when we politely, but firmly declined.

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  • Anton said

    Whilst traveling through italy I witnessed this scam many times, in Napels in particular. A man will approach you offering to sell you some discounted goods, cameras/laptops etc... he will produce the goods show you them working trying to make the sale stating he works for DHL transport company and these are spare (obviously stolen) but thats why he is offering such a good price. After some haggling thinking you are getting a good price he will put the goods in the bag and hand them over to you, then walk away, only for you to open your bag to discover you just bought a bag of flour/sand for $200! If the offer seems to good to be true it probably is!

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  • Nick said

    I`ve been approached four times with the "my sister is a nurse moving to your country" scam in Vietnam and Malaysia.They always want you to take you back to their place - never meet in the open. I`ve heard that the scam may involve false rape allegations or just a plain old mugging so be very careful.

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  • James said

    In Naples, Italy, while on our way to purchase train tickets, we were approached in the main train station by an older man wearing a nice sports jacket but strangely, noticeably old clothing underneath. He claimed to work for the rail station, showed us where the ticket office was located, and once we had our tickets he would show us to our train. At first we thought he was a nice old man who indeed wanted to provide the service he claimed. He was very friendly and chatty, so we were talking enthusiastically about where we were from and where we've been on our trip and are now heading to. Once in line for tickets, he said he would wait for us back where we originally found him (in view but at a small distance from the ticket line near the entrance of the station). Once he left we casually waited around in line as it moved forward. By sheer luck, I happened to glance in the old man's direction and caught him throwing a nod to a group of other people (mostly discrete looking Italian men) standing along a wall near a busy/high pedestrian area of the station. This is when it hit me... On top of the strange clothing, having been so chatty we had just inadvertently told this man that we were holding 2 Canadian Passports (being from Canada), were carrying all our money with us at that time (as we were boarding a train), and were about to be holding 2 tickets to our next destination (Sienna, Italy). I quickly explained this to my girlfriend and we decided to immediately head in the opposite direction of the old man once we had our tickets, and make a dash for out train platform (you quickly figure out where your train is when in this kind of situation lol). Sure enough, the moment we started heading in the opposite direction, the old man began chasing us, calling for our attention. We didn't stick around to listen to him though, nor see if the group of shady looking guys were in pursuit. We just dashed to the train platforms and made sure to stay in the most populated of areas until we could claim our seats on the train. To this day I'm not entirely sure if it was a scam, but sure enough that I wasn't going to risk finding out the hard way. It's so true that the rule of thumb, unfortunately, is to trust no one unless you can confirm they are in a position of authority. The small good that can come from accepting someone's overreaching hospitality can cost you dearly.

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  • Melissa said

    This is sad. Unbelievably I have seen almost everyone of these scams in action and one not mentioned. We were in Istanbul coming from the grand bazaar in a heavy downpour. Looking for a cab when all of a sudden a man came from behind us who had a cab on the corner. Once in the cab. He was trying to tell us how much for the ride my friend had her wallet out. He was trying to be "helpful" in explaining the proper amount for the ride when we saw a $100 come out of her wallet. He said it was $1.00 and proceeded to give it back and show us he had nothing more than dollar bills in his hand. Well they had no idea my friend was a well worn world traveler who was stationed there during her service. After arguing about the return of the money with no luck. We stepped out of the taxi my friend loudly told me to get the number on the cab so we could report it. Low and behold he found $100 bill on the floor. "Did this look like ours". Duh. If a taxi tries to take you for a ride in Turkey get the cab #. They get in big trouble if they get reported.

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  • Kayte said

    India...

    Really beaten up kids ask for you to buy them milk for their family as they are quite poor (& yes these kids are insanely poor and will break your heart just looking at them). You go with them to a reputable-looking grocers and buy what feels like a very expensive liter of milk. Then they ask if you would please buy some rice (or another needed grocery, such as flour...) And you likely will...

    Once you have spent way more than you would have liked, and that warm "I just gave to a needy person glow..." is in your heart, you leave with the kids/boys and they walk with you a bit before thanking you and hwading off to "their homes."

    Returning to their homes is actually returning to the grocers, who takes the groceries back from the kids to be re-sold, and shares the "profits" with the kids, who in turn, hand over this money to their "owner..." (Many kids are bought or leased from their parents for this kind of work...)

    If you really want to help them (and they do need it!), but them take away foods that must be eaten immediately. It may be the only good they get all day...

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  • Bernadette said

    As a world traveler, I really appreciate all of the above stories. Apparently Paris and Rome are places where scammers flourish, as I've heard many stories about scams in these 2 cities. I've just spent 7 weeks traveling in Morocco and no one has attempted to scam me. 15 years ago in Hanoi Vietnam, a hotel clerk said he would go get my train ticket south for me so I didn't have to wait in line. I gave him a small tip for his service. when I arrived at the train, I was told I had a 2nd class ticket in an un-airconditioned cabin with 5 other people. The clerk bought a cheaper ticket and pocketed the difference. Apparently he needed that $10US more than I did. Lesson learned; I always buy my own tickets now.

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  • Fran said

    In Cuba literally on our first day we set off to find an internet card (these are the only way to get wifi in Cuba) walking down the street a local couple passed us, almost walking by as if on their way somewhere but warmly said hi how are you? Noticed we had accents and asked where we were from. My boyfriend said Australia to which they said welcome to Cuba. They spoke decent English and asked casually when we arrived we mentioned "just now actually. " The guy was dressed in a local tour guide tshirt even and mentioned he had just got off work and they were on their way to a special music festival on today. His wife was very sweet and asked many questions about how long we were travelling for etc. They were extremely friendly and charming and very excited they suggested we come to this celebration festival there was a public holiday on and she was a salsa dance teacher going to the square to perform. We politely declined a few times but they wouldn't take no for an answer and dragged us away excitedly that we must come see the dancers. Suddenly we were walking, laughing, talking with them through the streets of Havana. We looked at each other and said is this actually happening, were a little skeptical but thought oh well they seem nice enough. They said the band she dances to half of them were playing at a local bar but would be meeting them on the way to go with them to the festival. We walked into a local bar to which a small amazing band was playing Cuban music, we were introduced to the staff to which they made us feel very welcome, they ordered 'special' local style mojitos for us all, they brought us a plate of pork crackling as a gesture, he saw our Cuba lonely planet book grabbed some paper and said I will show you some local places to visit. We looked at each other and both thought he's going to ask us for money for doing this for us. We never asked him either. He kept writing so many things on the papers, as the guy who ran the bar asked my boyfriend permission to dance with me, suddenly I was up being twirled around, it was all fun, they gave my boyfriend a cigar as a gift and as they drank and laughed. We were asked questions on what we did for a living and asked to see a photo of where we live in Australia (not realising this was them figuring out how much money to ask for) they saw we lived in a apartment overlooking the beach on the Gold Coast (which we roomshare and rent by the way) I mentioned I was actually a student that just finished my studies. We had been there for over half an hour and I was getting a little over sitting in the bar and asked could they take us to somewhere to buy an internet card on the way to the festival. They said of course. They ordered a second round of drinks. At this moment I realised we were probably going to have to pay for them as they were helping us so much. After the second drink we asked could we get going, even when asked to tip the band my boyfriend handed over 3 cuc (tourist money) to which our new friend said tapped him on the shoulder and said next time don't give them so much only need to give them 1 cuc at most. Another trick to make us feel we could trust him and they had our best interest at heart. We asked for the bill the guy asked the manager for it. It came out as 42.00 I looked and my boyfriend as it didn't mention whether it was cuc or cup (the local money) we asked is that how much it is they said yes. So we handed over 42 cuc which equates to over $30 usd. We both were a little stunned but thought ok maybe that was the price even though at an expensive hotel that morning a drink was only 1-2 cuc. A little rattled we just spent that much they started taking us down the street to a place where he said we could buy 25 cigars for 100 cuc and wanted to take us up into a building to do so. By then we started to become really confused as we wanted to go to this festival and I asked sorry I'm confused what is happening and what are we doing. The alarm bells went off as soon as they wanted to take us up to another building not actually this festival. I said to them we don't have they money to buy 25 cigars for 100 cuc thanks for the offer but we are backpackers that means we are on a low budget. We also explained that we blew our whole days budget on buying them drinks for showing us around and supposedly taking us to the festival. They said oh ok then the wife suddenly asked can I have 40 cuc for 2kgs of milk powder for her baby. I said no I'm sorry I can't help you with that. She then said 20. I started to get really frustrated and angry realising this was all a scam and said no we do not have much money just because we are westerners. She asked for 15 cuc and I said look I will give you guys 10 cuc for helping us but that's it and we don't want anything you can sell to us or to go to this festival. Handed her 10 cuc and walked off realising we had just been scammed for about $65 Australian dollars. Lesson to be learned in Cuba. If someone makes friends with you or tries to talk to you literally walk away. These people have a name they are called Jiniteras and are very good at working the tourists to their advantage. The lady at the Casa particular we were staying with after telling her what happened said oh no. You must trust nobody on the streets here and walk away. For the whole trip we got approached so many times but we were able to say no thanks strongly and not fall for anything again.

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  • Beth said

    The most desperate experience I've had with scammers involved a young woman in Nicaragua asking for money to buy her sick baby some medicine. I asked what was wrong with the baby, and the woman just pointed to her arm and rubbed it, indicating it was some sort of rash. She even lifted up her shirt to show me her lactating breasts! (I know, TMI). Suspecting something, but genuinely wanting to help if her situation were true, I asked to see the baby. So, we walked several blocks then suddenly a young man appeared. She asked him to show me the baby, and he said the baby was now in the hospital. I told them it was the best place for an ill infant, and went on my way. Nicaragua has a huge problem with glue-sniffing youth.

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  • Rodrigo said

    The tea scam in China!! This tea scam, unfortunately, is really quite common (we personally met a handful of people that fell for it and were approached by some of the “scammers” ourselves) and has been going on for years. It goes a little something like this: you are walking through the streets obviously looking like a tourist when you are approached by a friendly, seemingly normal Chinese lady in her 20s. She strikes up a conversation with you saying stuff like how she just wants to practice her English, get to know foreigners, etc. Then, she suggests you go to a tea house. After finishing your tea, you realize that you bill is somehow hundreds of dollars and that you are suddenly surrounded by a few large, menacing looking Chinese men or something else that forces you to fork over the cash.

    I've seen so many scams during my travels that I ended up writing a whole article about it: "How to Travel Safely: Advice on 11 Items & Several Tips" http://outofyourcomfortzone.net/travel-safety/ Let me know if you have any questions about since I reply all comments and questions. Safe travels!

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  • Mjy said

    In my years of traveling around the world we've seen many of the scams described here on this forum. But thankfully we didn't fall for any of them,..... except for two.

    A few years ago when we went to India. We took the airport express from Delhi airport to Delhi railroad station. When we came out of the subway station we saw that the train station was across the street. Wanting to get the next day's train tickets ahead of time we went over to the ticket counters. A man approached us and told us that he worked for the railway and this ticket office was only for local people. Foreigners needed to go to another office a way out. And that we can take a motorbike taxi there for only 20 rupees. We brushed him off thinking it must have been a scam. But then we looked around and really couldn't figure out how to get our tickets. Another man showed up telling us the same thing. We walked away and went out the building to see if we can go to the front of the station. A third man showed up sporting a railway badge who told us the exact same thing. This time we were really confused and started to think the story might be true. We then took the mototaxi to an office about a mile away. The man in the office checked on the computer and told us that tickets to Agra were sold out and proceeded to offer us car service plus hotel arrangements to the golden triangle. We told him that we had made lodging arrangements already and declined his offer (with scam alert blaring inside our heads). He became agitated and lost all his pretend politeness. We grabbed our stuff and walked out of the office to get a cab back. Suddenly the fare became $20 USD. We refused to pay that much for the ride. A man at the taxi waiting area started to tell us that no one would give us a ride back. Not willing to be coerced we decided to walk back. Luckily we traveled light so we were able to walk with our backpacks. Eventually we found out the ticket office was at the west end of the station. Scammers organized at the back (east) end of the station near the airport express station where most tourists came into town to con tourists into booking their trips with their affiliated travel agencies.

    A second near miss was in Brussels last year. We were walking at night near the Grand Place. We were taking a short cut through a less popular street when a man caught up to us with a map to ask for directions. I told him we were visitors and didn't know the area well. He persisted to ask us to help figure out where he wanted to go. My wife was more alert and signaled me to leave. Before we had a chance to leave another man ran over and said he is an undercover policeman. He ask all of us for ID. We told them we had them in the hotel. He then warn us about drug dealers in that area. Eventually he let us go but kept the first guy with him. We still haven't figured out whether the second man was indeed a cop or just part of the scam. The first man did look troubled when the second man showed up. So maybe we just lucked out.

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  • Christopher Pyne said

    I recently travelled to the USA, and a guy named Trump is running for president. That's the biggest scam i've ever seen in my life.

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    • James said

      I was using the bathroom in my hotel in Kenya. When I came out to my room there was a naked girl on my bed wanting sex. I am married and told her to leave, never touching her. She went to the police telling them I raped her. Police came and said I either go to jail or pay them $300. She and the cops share in the bounty.

      Reply

  • Joe said

    In Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, not only do people know easily you are a foreigner by how light skinned you are they will come to you with all stories how they need to sell something to you to make money for someone that is in the hospital or whatever. If you go to Los Tres Ojos National Park do not give in to buying whatever ornament they have overpriced because they are not really poor and they get paid by the government.

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  • Hari said

    We got scammed in Bangkok, costing us 900€!!

    It was the typical travel agency / fake TAT scam, that some cheap tuk tuk driver took us there and we bought a "holiday package" for accommodation and transfers for 12 days... that was 70+€ per day, but the actual hotels booked and the transfers were not worth not even half of that price! We could have booked everything on our own and paid perhaps 400€ in total...

    Travellers beware!

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  • kat said

    In Vietnam, it's best to always get a taxi from a good hotel that has a doorman. They will write down the number of the taxi. If you get a taxi on the street or at a tourist location and have a problem while en route (the meter is rigged to turn over faster), smile and say you forgot your [whatever] and that you need to go to [nearest hotel to you where you "are staying"]. When you get there, get out and report the taxi to the doorman.

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  • Lily said

    It happened both times in Bali! 🇮🇩
    We arrived at the airport and after 20 min of negotiations with many drivers a guy came up offerinf a low price. He showed us his Licence so we went with him. Our place was in Ubud and he took us somewhere very closed.we told him that’s not the place and he was just asking for his money. We showed him in the map where is our hotel and he said we wants 3 times the price. We told him that we gonna call the police and he actually took our bags of his car and left us in the place. Lucky we had internet connection so we just ordered for a grab.
    Second day we went to exchange money 💰
    It was a small wooden office outside a mini market. I gave him € and he count in front of me the local money in 50.000 notes. I told him ok now let me count as well. And he said no no no only I touch the money. I took my 200€ back straight away and left cause I felt there something fishy going on.

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  • Pedro Delgado said

    Marakesh, Morocco - walking through the backstreets near Djarma El Fna, a friendly young man tells us how he can take us to the Tannery to see how leather is treated and turned into beautiful leather jackets etc. Now we knew this was most likely a scam of sorts.
    Still....we went with him, saw the tannery, learned a lot about how the treatments were done, spent an inordinate time fobbing off a salesman in the shop attached to the tannery and when we left there were a few young men telling us we needed to pay for the tour we had just had offered to us for nothing as our guide "was a good friend". A payment of about £20 later, we were told that was enough.
    Lo and behold, on our way back to the main square, we just happened to bump into our original guide again - what a coincidence!! He told us he knew a quicker way to get us back to the square.....but we insisted we were not in a hurry and could follow the signs. He was not happy with us but left us alone, no doubt getting his share from the tannery guys.
    I would have quite happily paid for the tour up front and was well aware of the nature of the appraoch to us. I also understand that many of the people in the medina in Morocco are living hand to mouth and am happy to give them my business, help, if I can. Ok, it was a scam of sorts but it has not put me off Marakesh - a city of beauty, madness and chaos. I loved it.

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  • Judith Evans said

    Taxi scams
    Saigon, Vietnam a couple of years ago, leaving the Ho Chi Minh museum, we got into a waiting taxi. To all intents and purposes it was a legitimate Vinasun taxi - the correct colour scheme and identifying number on the back. The doors were locked as got inside, which by the way, is quite normal in many SE Asian countries. The driver drove right past the park we'd asked to be taken to; he carried on driving until we started shouting very loudly. He then quoted a price over five times the price displayed on his meter. When I handed him the correct amount he grabbed it and demanded more, and started threatening my husband who was in he front seat, I started banging on the windows and kicking the door at which point he unlocked the doors and we fell out. It was really scary and taught us a sharp lesson. It is difficult, though, to tell if a taxi is genuine if the copy the appearance of the genuine ones. What we failed to notice was the total lack of ID on the dashboard - that experience taught us to always look for it and check before getting in.

    Lombok, Indonesia a couple of months ago we got a taxi the few miles from a restaurant in Senggigi to our accommodation. Chatting to the driver he told us he was unfamiliar with the town as he'd driven another fare across from Mataram, a few miles away. When we arrived he said he didn't have any change, and between us we couldn't find the right money, or anything close to it, even if we added a tip. As we were staying in an Airbnb and there was no-one else we could ask we ended up give him way more than the actual fare. We didn't mind as it was still a comparitively cheap fare., and he went away grateful and happy. Imagine our surprise when, a few evenings later, the same driver - a "stranger in the area"- picked us up again! We all recognised each other and he must have wondered if we were going to call him out; we didn't but made sure we had exactly the right amount of money, and no tip. Funny thing is, that first night we all said we wondered if he'd been scamming us - maybe he pulled that trick on everyone. That second ride we were proved right but could only smile at the cheek of it.

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  • Christian said

    I was in Bosnia, and the conductor on the trolley asked to check my ticket. As I was showing the "conductor" my ticket, his left hand reached behind me, unzipped my backpack, and pulled out my camera. After telling my ticket looked fine, he hopped out of the back of the tram, with my camera.

    In Poland, fell victim to the beautiful women taking me to a pub I'd never seen before asking if we could buy them a round of drinks. Of course the bill was 12x higher than a normal place. Went back to the same location the next day, and sign was gone, no sign of a pub. In the same city someone slipped something into my drink, woke up the next day with passport, money, and everything of value I owned gone.

    In Ukraine, I guy walking in front of me found some money on the sidewalk and wanted to discuss if it was mine, at that point I realized RUN.

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  • Anonymous traveler said

    "Real police may ask you for your personal ID but they will never ask you to pay the fine on the spot". I guess you haven't been to Mexico. I was driving - in a bit of a hurry, admittedly - a rental car to the airport in Cancun some years ago - I real, marked police car with a very real-looking police officer stopped me for speeding (which was true) - if he had given me a ticket of course I would not have paid it, and I was not exactly willing to accompany him to the police station to go into details - so I paid the fine (the contents of my wallet - about US$60) on the spot, and went on my way to the airport. No paperwork, and I am sure he pocketed the fine himself!

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  • Bill Maddison said

    Changed money with a "hotel employee" in Bulgaria - was given notes that hed been taken out of circulation and were no longer valid. Luckily I didn't hand over many £££s!

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  • Jane said

    Be very aware of your purse. After very long flights to Cabo San Juan, my friend and I went to a safe looking restaurant across from our hotel for dinner. I hung my purse on the back of my chair, even though I was thinking twice about the the intelligence of doing so. But, I was very tired, the table next to us was empty, and my friend was facing me. What could go wrong. Wrong thought! Midway through dinner, two men sat down at the table next to us and looked at menus. Soon, one of them “stumbled” into my chair, and I immediately grabbed my purse. My purse was safe but my wallet was nowhere to be found. My friend insisted the contact could not have resulted in a stolen wallet, but she was wrong. The wallet was not in the hotel room and I received a call from my credit card company asking if I made two purchases at local grocery stores in Cabo. Needless to say, the card was inactivated and I was without cash. But, I had left my passport and ATM card in the room safe. Lesson learned about how I treat my purse!

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  • Michelle said

    Went to New York with my family and while walking around Times Square a group of people dressed up as superhero’s came by, my young kids where obviously excited to see Spider-Man, Wonder Woman and others. They asked if I wanted to take a picture of them with my family and then after they tried to say I owed them $25.. we walked away after arguing for a moment. I told them I would delete the photo...

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  • Di Hope said

    There are so many of these I suggest that you have a page dedicated to scams - arranged by country since many are very location-specific. Here's mine:

    Shanghai, China - you are approached in a busy shopping/tourist area like Nanjing Road by a young couple on the street asking you to take their photo. Often posing as students. They compliment you on your appearance/clothing or something similar & ask if you would like to go to a traditional Chinese tea ceremony with them. If you do the tea ceremony ends up being quite expensive, with you getting left to foot the bill - and being offered even more expensive tea products to buy.

    If you fall for this - and have wisely paid by credit card - try calling your credit card company. Mine reimbursed me for the amount I felt I had paid over the odds for the tea ceremony. End result - despite the sour taste left by the behavior of these folks, I enjoyed some nice tea, learned about the traditional tea ceremony - and paid a reasonable price for it. I feel sorry for people so desperate they resort to scamming tourists like this - on a tourist's first day in a new country - hardly a great advert for the place!

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  • Jackie said

    What you are calling a "fake cop" can be a corrupt, but real cop, in countries like Argentina and Paraguay. So it is okay to ask for ID to confirm identity from the cops, but refusing requests can be used to charge you with insubordination. If you are not comfortable with the cop's request, you can warn them you will call your consulate to help resolve the conflict. That, by itself, might make them back off. Otherwise, you should call your consulate. That is why our #1 priority when entering a new country is to get a local cellphone chip

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  • Tilnih said

    The sauce trick has been done on me in Ecuador, except I’d was feces that was thrown on me and not sauce. I had been warned of this trick in advance and declined the “help” and kept walking. I think I needed 5 showers after that.

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  • Christel said

    A scam at Goa airport. This guy with a colored uniform offers nicely to take care of your luggage inside. Carries it on trolley andcthrough security and your check in counter: all things ypu can do by yourself. Then he asks for 200rs, pretending candidly that it is a company fee for the help and even showing a receipt.. it ‘s a scam, cie doesn't exist! Just walk away!

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  • Amir said

    Exactly what "Anonymous traveler" said about Mexico police. you don't want to offer them the police station option, as they are corrupted and will take you.
    As well as corrupted official immigration office in the borders, they are making deals with drivers. they can let you go for free or charge 30$ even if you paid staying taxes. need to get flight breakdown price to prove them.

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