Most Common Travel Scams


For obvious reasons, tourists most often become victims of fraud. Like children, who find themselves in an unfamiliar situation, they ask the first person they see for assistance and often tend to believe every word they hear from him/her. Here is what it can lead to.


Most travelers do not know the language of the country they plan to visit and are not familiar with its culture and traditions. Alas, it does not affect their flippant attitude to their wallet safety. As if to simplify the attackers’ task, people fearlessly continue to wear a significant portion of their savings in the pockets.

In contrast to a potential victim, the offender is agile and cunning. And this is not surprising: it is the legs that feed the wolf. Experienced and professional fraudsters know dozens of ways to question the safety of your vacation money. Moreover, trying to bamboozle you, wrongdoers constantly enhance their skills, so it is extremely difficult – if not impossible at all – to prove their guilt.

Despite the apparent obviousness of a particular combination, which turns a guest into a victim, it has nothing to do with the issue: the money is gone, and nothing can be changed. But it’s not so bad because the traveler usually does not know that something has gone wrong until the latest moment – the tricks performed by those wishing to enrich themselves at the expense of others are incredibly smart sometimes.

When reaching their own goals, holiday scammers take advantage of the imperfect laws and all sorts of loopholes in the system of state control. That is why the tourists coming for a vacation from season to season draw the criminals’ attention.

Today, let’s talk about how to protect yourself and your savings, if you are having a vacation at a resort. Let us recall several well-known fraud methods and consider the situations when you have to be alert.

Street scams


1. Friendship bracelets and other kinds of imitation jewelry

Something is fashionable, and something is eternal. The category of timeless fashionable pieces includes the legacy of the Woodstock era – friendship bracelets. At that time, hippies used to weave them from improvised materials (lace, pieces of leather, ribbons and various lumber) and passed them to each other as a sign of friendship or love – depending on the situation.

This tradition has not lost any of its popularity. Even today, on any busy street, where brisk trading of all sorts of souvenirs and beach paraphernalia takes place, you can be unobtrusively approached by a good-natured goner or a group of goners. Having started talking about some kind of nonsense, this person will measure your hand and suggest weaving the aforementioned self-made bracelet as a sign of friendship and unity of the peoples in the world.

He may really make a good-looking souvenir, demonstrating a street master class in weaving. However, do not be surprised if the cost of such service exceeds the joy of owning a memorable string. Oh yeah, there is one more thing! Check if you still have the contents of your pockets with you.

2. Would you like a bouquet?

Flowers are a popular gift that can always be presented as a fashionable way of demonstrating special care. Strolling along the promenade and enjoying the views with a beautiful companion, you can meet an obliging young man (although this may be a girl or even worse – a nice old lady), who will offer you a small bouquet: “For your charming girl!”

You’ve probably guessed that the expected cost of the flowers may be greater than the money needed for a candlelight dinner in a restaurant. But it is too late: nobody will want to show his woman he has nothing to do with romance and is a stingy person.

3. A ring

Rings are associated with all sorts of options. This is one of the most famous tricks performed in a crowded street. The point again is the desire to appeal to greed that is essential to the human race.

The following scene takes place: an unsuspecting tourist walks down the street and enjoys the volumetric-spatial perspective that is changing in front of him. At some point, when he least expects it, a certain person skillfully throws a ring under the feet of a potential victim. Next, the scammer picks it up and loudly asks whether the ring is yours. “What shall we do with the finding? – the dialogue continues in the meantime. – “The ring seems to be valuable. Would you like to buy it? If you want the ring, so be it, I will give in.”

The situation seems incredibly simple, but the point is in people’s inherent desire to get easy money. Be careful.

4. Oh God, keep hold of your child!

There are similar scenes from the series, figuratively called “no time for explanations”. Do you know what I mean? For example, you go to a bus stop, planning to have a ride to the tour center. At the most unexpected moment, a woman in a crowd stumbles in front of you with a breastfed baby in her arms. Panic, the baby flies right into your hands. You try to catch the baby, and the clumsy “mother” screams and… rushes to flee, grabbing the bag with your purse and documents, which you have forgotten about saving the life of a baby doll.

This is a cruel psychological trick. By the way, remember that the scammer does not have to toss babies. This may as well be an innocent request to hold the baby for half a minute.

5. A trick with the ball and glasses

This is pure classic of street magic tricks that can be seen anywhere. One dodger makes a lively presentation, accompanied by the surprised cries that every now and then are heard from the crowd of spectators. The trickster is very good at what he does, and all the movements of his hands really fascinate. That’s the point of the trick, and some of these spectators around are not just onlookers. They have already played their role in this show by emptying what? That’s right, by emptying your wallet!

One can easily learn how to do the trick. If you learn it, use this knowledge for the benefit.

6. Another wallet

A wallet, lying in the middle of a sidewalk, will sooner or later attract the passers-by and will make some of them stop to pick it up. Greed often makes us forget the elementary rules of caution. Try not to become such a passer-by, who risks losing his/her full wallet while leaning over someone else’s empty one. Do not forget that thieves rarely act alone and usually do not risk anything. This is the way villains act on the streets of Argentina.

7. Skillful awkwardness of the hands

This trick belongs to the category of classic ones. It was demonstrated by one of the heroines of the film “Heartbreakers” performed by Jennifer Love Hewitt. To get acquainted with the millionaire she was interested in, she pretended she accidentally spilled a glass of red wine on his shirt. As you know, it was just an excuse. In case of street scams, it will be the reason to help you not only clear the shirt or the jacket, but also grab something from its pockets. Somehow it seems to me that you should definitely stay away from the women who craftily spill wine on you just as you are passing by.


8. A street shoe shiner

This scam is often used on the streets of Istanbul. A shoe brush is accidentally dropped right in front of you, and after you pick it up and give it to the owner, he suggests polishing your shoes as a sign of gratitude. However, then he will ask money for this. In short, if your shoes look nice, you should not pick up any brushes on the street.

9. Rosemary sellers

This scam is not without mystery. They say there are elderly women in Madrid or New Delhi, offering the passers-by to buy a sprig of rosemary and reading palms for good luck. Not for free, of course. But if you do not want to pay, the senior ladies may try to put the spell on you and even curse you. Not very nice, really.

10. A random photographer

This may be a passer-by from the crowd who happens to be nearby and whom you will ask to take a picture of you and your partner against the background of Sagrada Familia. Maybe, nothing wrong will happen. However, there are options anyway: either you pay a small sum of money for this service, or the kind stranger will run away with your SLR camera.

11. An unknown rap artist

Why rap? It is hard to say. It may be the most difficult thing to advance in the world of hip-hop music: after all, it is not an easy thing to survive on the dirty streets of a poor neighborhood. An Afro-American with a boombox on his shoulder comes up to you and begins to actively recite something. He seems to do this voluntarily. This “artist” performs a couple of his other inspirational recitatives and then he moves to the point – financing his unrecognized talent. After that, his huge fellows, thugs, come up to you and extort money.

12 A drug dealer

Along with the usual taxi, an auto-rickshaw is a widespread way of transportation on many popular resorts in Asian countries. For example, many of them can be seen on the island of Koh Phangan, in the Gulf of Thailand. This island is loved by many party-goers from all over the world and has been immortalized by director D. Boyle in his movie “The Beach”, where the main role was played by the then young DiCaprio.

For many years in a row, monthly dance events, known as the Full Moon Party, take place on Koh Phangan, and taxi drivers and rickshaws earn money by selling drugs to foreign lovers of all-night partying and loud music.


However, it is known officially that storage of any drugs in Thailand (Koh Phangan belongs to this state) is punishable by law; one can be sentenced to a long-term imprisonment or even death penalty for misconduct on the island. The locals (of course, if you decide to buy some drugs) will never fail to take advantage of this opportunity and put up a scene in the midst of which the alleged policeman, strict and unforgiving, will approach you. He will be no stranger to corruption, as you might have already guessed. Yes, drugs will do no good to you.

13. Taxis

Just in case, we will also mention this kind of scam, with tourists playing the key role. This should not necessarily be a resort. In fact, this can be any unfamiliar city in any country, anywhere in the world, where you can theoretically come to. Let’s not beat about the bush: indecent drivers have a lot of methods to increase their earnings – from manipulating the counter to deliberately choosing a lengthy route through distant neighborhoods with the aim of getting a greater mileage. Nowadays, such troubles can be avoided by ordering the official hotel transfer from the airport or learning the route and its estimated cost in advance.

14. Intercity buses

A bus can sometimes cause much more damage to your financial condition than a careless taxi driver. Everything is even worse: cheap tickets are expected to be a freebie, but you end up paying a high price. Not for the tickets, but for the things stolen from the luggage compartment that the thieves may deem valuable. Make a point of carrying the most valuable luggage with you.

15. A trick with the change

Be careful when paying a taxi driver and look at the change you are given. Cunning scammers often resort to a simple trick, giving you the cheap local currency instead of the universally accepted and desired money. Sometimes a taxi driver can “accidentally” drop a coin and pick up some manats from the floor giving them to you as if nothing has happened.

16. A punctured wheel

Having a vacation, many people rent cars or scooters to save money that would be paid for the taxi service. However, a rented car is easily distinguished in the traffic due to advertising on its sides and other features. Local craftsmen can stab one of the wheels and then offer a tire fitting service. Such service can even be free of charge. The danger is that one scammer may be tinkering with the wheel, while the other one will inspect the inside of the car where you might have left your belongings or a mobile phone.

17. Thieves in trains

They were, they are, and they will always be. In a train or subway carriage, space is limited, and people stand very close to each other. This is an ideal situation for pickpocketing; scammers know hundreds of ways to distract your attention from the pockets with money and the documents.

18. A runaway taxi driver

Driving you to a hotel from the airport, a helpful driver may open the trunk lid and take your bags to the reception. Hurrying to pick up the next client, he will not count the money you offer him for the trip. This is not because taxi drivers are careless about small sums of money. Most likely, one of your smaller bags is still lying in the trunk of his car, and now he needs to quickly slip away. The truth is that the yellow car sometimes disappears too quickly, whereas you are late to do anything.

Everything seems to be clear with the situations that happen in the street. Now let us look at a number of other potentially dangerous things, which sometimes end up with your loss.

What should scare you in stores and other public places


1. A talkative cashier

When paying at a cash register, be very careful if the cashier does several things at the same time, for example, discusses some issue on the phone. He may be busy using the distraction to photograph or overwrite the data of your credit card.

2. A sluggish cashier

Unlike his previous colleague, this person seems to be innately incapable of hurrying. He/she purposely counts the change incredibly slowly, relying on the fact that you will lose patience and leave the shop without waiting for the money.

3. A great buy in a jewelry shop

This kind of scam involves rickshaw drivers again. These guys work in pairs: one drives the client, while the other plays the role of a pleased tourist. When you arrive at your destination in a rickshaw, the allegedly cheerful fellow appears nearby and tells you that he knows the place where you can buy diamonds or pearls for a knockdown price. The purpose is to drag you into one of the hundreds of little shops with the plainest of goods.

4. A suspicious doctor

Medicine has always been a vast field for scams. You can meet a suspicious-looking person, who will introduce himself as a doctor (most probably, on vacation or retired). This pseudo-doctor will inadvertently offer to buy fake documents confirming that you have a disease. By showing this document to your insurance company upon returning home, you will be able to earn good money. Very few people can be interested in doing this, but still beware of such unlawful offers and do not get involved in dubious bargains.

5. A costumed police officer

All sorts of tricks with uniform clothing and disguises will never go out of fashion. Do not believe your eyes! In any public place you can be approached by a police officer or a representative of a similar state organization; the officer will explain he is involved in combatting counterfeiters who work in the area. In order to make sure that you have not become a victim of these scams, he will ask you to show the contents of your wallet. After a quick examination of the wallet, the fake police officer will give it back to you without some of the bills that used to lay there.

6. Fake tickets

Standing in a huge line for a concert, show or some other major event, beware of the street vendors suggesting to buy tickets directly from their hands. The tickets look authentic, but they will prove fake at the entrance. Besides, you will buy them at a price, several times higher than the average one.

Scams involving the locals and their children


1. Extremely helpful locals

A nice man, who speaks your language, volunteers to help you cope with a strange local ATM when he is just passing by. It is better to ignore him and contact the nearest bank: the “well-wisher” will not find it difficult to remember your PIN and then tell it to his local pickpocket friends.

2. A guidebook seller

Our next characters are sellers of guidebooks. In fact, they are pickpockets too. Showing the map to you, they unroll it in front of your face in order to distract your attention and to check whether there is something for them in your pockets.

3. A beggar or a tramp

Most often, it is a woman rather than a man. She may be with a child or look pregnant. Her appearance should make you feel pity and compassion; this is expected to make your heart quiver, so you will definitely give some money to the unhappy woman. Let not the hand of a giver be scanty, as the Scripture reads. There is no reason to disagree with the Scripture. It is up to each of us to give or not to give alms to beggars. But do not forget that your actions can be monitored by a pickpocket thief from around the corner.

4. Masseur

Basking on the beach under the hot summer sun, you can find another service offer – a massage. Even if you refuse, the obsessive masseur is not so easy to get rid of, so you should drive him away firmly.

5. Cherchez la femme

Everyone knows that women can be tricky, but nevertheless sometimes we behave very carelessly, when we are on holiday alone. Here we mean the victims of innocent flirting – single bored men.

The scheme is simple: a man is approached by a beautiful young lady; there occurs an informal conversation with laughing, jokes and perhaps even champagne. The man is smiling with satisfaction: she agreed to spend the evening with him at the bar. However, this is a trivial money scam: the bill will turn into a great expenditure, and the meeting will remain a single event.


By the way, from their personal experience, people say that in Singapore this is a separate profession. In the evening, pretty girls hang out at bars, hoping to meet and escort you to the nearest venue. The point is that the cost of cocktails for you and your new friend will differ by a few times – you can be left without a penny buying drinks for her. Besides, you should know that it is a foolish thing to expect the evening to be continued.

6. The pseudo-victim of a pickpocket thief

These seem to be conscious people, who have supposedly suffered from the actions of street thieves. They seem friendly and warn you that they have become victims of pickpocketing literally a minute ago right at the place you are standing now. If you have already thought about reaching out for your wallet to check if everything is in its place, do not rush to do that! These people are not tourists, they are pickpocket thieves, who just need you to show them where and what you have.

7. A broken camera

Improper actions with the expensive devices all look about the same. Be careful when someone asks you to take a picture of him (or her) with a group of friends against the background of something. Taking the camera in your hands and getting ready to press the shutter, you may find that the device does not work, and when you try to return it to the owner, he/she may require money for the allegedly broken equipment, calling friends for help.

8. Linguistics students

The students’ wish to travel and get some language practice is a common thing. But keep in mind that fraud has penetrated even into the sphere of additional education, if we may say so. The girls, who are looking absolutely innocent, may ask you to talk to them in English for the sake of “practice.” The conversation can quickly turn into begging: they will tell you they are from a poor country/family and ask you to help them financially so that they could continue education.

9. Nuts

Few people have ever come across this kind of fraud. It is said that a man can occupy a vacant seat at your table in a cafe. After some time, he will scatter nuts before you, but if you take one or two of them to treat yourself, he will require payment.

I would simply give nothing to this guy. Anyway, you never know what he might have in those nuts.

10. A postcard

A poor little boy gives you a postcard and a pen and asks you to help him write a letter home. In the letter, he will tell about his painful life away from home and reveal the hardships that are expected to force you to show mercy and help the unfortunate child financially. A very tough method.

11. Donations

There is nothing special to say – this is a well-known topic. A group of children, pretending to be deaf, surround you and ask you to sign any petition in support of a certain organization. While you are busy, they will ask you for money or check the contents of your pockets and bags.

12. Gipsy children

This point may also include the contents of five to seven other points described in this article. Little demons will not let you pass, trying to sell newspapers, cigarettes, and a chewing gum to you. You may have already guessed what will happen to your pockets and values.

Hotel machinations


1. Closed for renovation

A conventional scheme, which involves a taxi driver. If you are not well aware of the place where you are going to stay during the holidays, the taxi driver will try to convince you that the needed hotel is closed for repairs and suggest taking you to another one. Upon arrival at the hotel, you will be surprised to find an extremely cheap lodging option at the unreasonably high price. Most likely, the hotel will be located off the beaten path, in an uncomfortable site from the point of view of tourism. Therefore, it is recommended that you should contact a prospective place of accommodation beforehand.

2. The alleged call from the reception

Late in the evening you can receive a call. The voice on the other end will give his/her name and report that he/she is a representative of the hotel accommodation service. You will be asked to specify the details of your credit card for the bill to be provided. Remember to never give this information over the phone, especially since most hotels require your credit card number at the stage of booking. So, you are talking to scammers.

3. Hotel clerks and other staff

Your peace can be disturbed by the two men, uniformed as the employees of the hotel, who have come “to check whether everything is all right.” A knock at the door, and they enter. While one of them distracts you with something, the other one will perform his criminal actions without interference.

4. A false menu from the nearest restaurant

Inventive scammers do not choose only simple schemes of enrichment at the expense of others. A relatively recent trend is a false menu in a restaurant located next to the hotel. In such a way, the scammers accept the order from your room relying on your laziness and reluctance to go anywhere. You will spend your time dying of hunger, but the bill for this dinner, withdrawn from your debit card, will be more than perceptible.

Many of these scams can be played by skillful “artists” in a flawless way. Maybe, you have encountered something from the above list personally or your friends may have told you about something. Anyway, let us be attentive to make sure that the planned vacation will pass without unnecessary conflicts and the interference of law enforcement institutions!