When traveling, you’ll often come across professional scams designed to take your money. These scams are also known as “street crime” or “confidence games,” and they can happen anywhere – not just in shady neighborhoods. These scams are targeted at all types of tourists, including first-time visitors and seasoned travelers alike. Here are 10 of the most common tourist scams to be wary of.
1. The Fake Police
You’re walking down the street in a city you don’t know when suddenly, someone grabs your arm and tells you to follow him. “You’re under arrest!” he says in broken English. “Here, take my wallet and everything in it.” Once you let your guard down, he’ll try to steal your money and other valuables.
2. Someone Tries to Spill Something on You
A man or a woman spills a red liquid on you – perhaps from a bottle – and then offers to help clean it up. When you let your guard down, someone will come from behind and pickpocket you.
3. People Try to Sell You Fake Designer Products
An over-eager “salesman” walking around with a sample case full of sunglasses, knockoff purses, or other counterfeit products is trying to sell you something. It may look real at first glance, but the price is too good to be true.
4. Street Performer Misleads You
Street performers in tourist areas will try to rope you into a quick bet or a magic trick. Then, when you let your guard down, they’ll attempt to take your money or other valuables.
5. You Get Invited to a Free Show
You’re walking down the street when you hear music and laughter coming from a building. You look inside and see people dancing and having a great time. But don’t go inside; the show is only free if you buy drinks or food.
6. Panhandlers Pretending to Be Homeless but Aren’t
Some homeless people will pretend to be disabled to get money from you. But not everybody begging for money is homeless; some are part of an organized gang that targets tourists.
7. Broken Down Vehicles on the Side of the Road
Broken-down cars on the side of the road can be very tempting. But if YOU stop, YOU are likely to be robbed! It’s a ploy to get you to pull over so they can get into your car.
8. Use of the “Walk in Front, Walk Behind” Strategy
This is used when someone wants to pickpocket you. Their companion will “accidentally” bump into you and then walk in front of you. The person behind you will bump into you, apologize, then walk behind you. At that time, either one of them or both of them will try to pickpocket you.
9. The “Must-Buy” Souvenirs
You may be approached by someone who seems friendly and would like to talk to you. Naturally, they will tell you about a “good deal” they have on souvenirs and ask if you’re interested. But don’t fall for this trap. If they were selling the item to you at a fair market value, you would’ve easily realized it.
10. Street Dancing Troupes
Street dancing troupes may seem like harmless entertainment, but watch out! It’s reported that some of these “troupes” are part of an organized gang that targets tourists. You may see them on the subway or at tourist spots. Either way, their objective is to get you to perform a dance move, and then they’ll try to steal your money or valuables.
These scams are not just found in shady areas. They can happen anywhere at any time. So if you’re ever concerned about someone following you or trying to sell you something, find a police officer and report it.