My uncle loved to tell the story about his vacation to Italy in his mid-30s. The son of two Italian immigrants, he and my grandfather went back to visit family. My grandfather wanted to spend the day with cousins so he sent my uncle out to explore the area.
After walking for a couple hours, my uncle decided to take a cab home. He approached two taxi drivers and asked, in English, how much for drive back to town. The one taxi driver said in Italian to his friend something to the effect of “watch me take this American for a ton of money” to which my uncle replied, in perfect Italian, “and how will you do that?”
The moral of the story — scammers are everywhere, especially in foreign countries. It’s important to brush up on as many travel scams as possible before visiting any foreign land.
Here are just a couple common travel scams to look out for the next time you visit a different country. Just remember — if it feels like bullshit, it probably is bullshit.
Common Travel Scams
Broken Taxi Meter: Cab drivers will start to drive and after a few minutes the driver will inform you that the meter is broken and ned up charging you an inflated price.
Bike Rental Damage: After you rent a moped or scooter, it gets damaged (or even stolen) overnight. The owner will demand additional payment or expensive repairs as compensation even though it was their partner who damaged the vehicle while you weren’t around.
Beware Hot Women: Attractive young women pay extra attention to you while out at a bar or nightclub. Meanwhile, they’re running up your bar tab or stealing your wallet or worse.
The Spot Remover: A traveler will feel something plop on their shoulder or shirt. Suddenly, a friendly stranger approaches and begins to wipe off the mess while plucking your wallet from your pocket or purse.
The Hotel Call: You get a call from the front desk in the middle of the night to confirm your credit card details. Only it isn’t the front desk calling, it’s a scammer who will drain your accounts.
The Drug Bust: A person will approach a tourist and offer illicit items, like drugs. While conversing one or two other people will approach, appearing to be police officers and flashing fake badges.
Friendly Photographer: While hanging out in a busy tourist location, a local offers to take a group photo of you and your friends. As you’re getting ready to pose, your friendly photographer disappears with your camera or cell phone.
The Overbooked Hotel: A cab driver will tell you your hotel is either closed or overbooked and then take you to a more expensive hotel where the driver receives a commission.
Free Wifi: Hackers will set up unsecured wifi hotspots in public locations that unsuspecting victims connect to, giving the thief access to your computer, passwords and online accounts.
Free Bracelets: A friendly man or woman will approach to chat, then place a “free” friendship bracelet on your wrist. Or hand you a sprig of Rosemary for good luck. Once you have it, they will demand money. When you refuse, they will begin to cause a scene.