Common Travel Scams



If you have made an international trip thus far, you know you are constantly at the mercy of travel scams. Scammers change their antics from time to time, and although it seems like you have seen and heard it all, sometimes you can only learn once you’ve become a victim.

The most important aspect of these scams is that they are widely known by the local authorities, and as soon as you realize you’ve been scammed, do not hesitate in contacting the local police for help. These scams are different in every country and they might even be considered old-school tricks by now, but they can give you an insight in order to help you analyze situations as well as to watch your belongings vigilantly.

Friendship Bracelet

A pushy vendor approaches with the intention of demonstrating something incredible. He asks for your wrist and starts strapping some sort of bracelet with very tight knots. Once the bracelet is firmly placed, he demands a payment. If you find yourself in this situation just be firm with an assertive “NO” and keep walking.

Instant friend – A good looking local stops you in the streets to ask for information or prompt to show you around his/her city. Once you’ve talked for a good while, he/she invites you to his/her favorite bar that is just a few steps away. After one or two drinks the steep bill comes to your table and buff security guards emerge in all the exits, leaving you with no option but paying the bill. If you meet someone on the street, simply thank him/her for the information and/or conversation and keep walking. Sometimes things that are too good to be true are too good to be true.

Fake Police – Two thieves dressed in Police attire may stop you and ask to check your wallet for counterfeit bills or drug money. Never hand in your wallet; you are in your right to refuse to do so. If they are very persistent and you have a phone, tell them you will call the local police to sort the situation out.


 Losing your money and valuables may disrupt your travel plans.

 In convenience supermarkets or shops where customers and tourists are usually in a rush, cashiers take a long time in order to give back the wrong change. Sometimes even going further to change bills in order to say you’ve paid with a smaller bill. First thing is to get acquainted with the local currency, as well as avoiding these places. Whenever you have no choice but to shop in these stores, you should be aware of the bill you are about to give. It also helps to say out loud the amount you are handing to the cashier.

Petition signing and donation(Especially in Paris)– In Paris there is a commonly practiced scam by young gypsies. They stop you in train stations asking for a signature for a petition and giving of a symbolic donation. Once you sign the paper, in their terms, you have agreed on donating more than 10 euros. Therefore, if people stop you on the street in order to sign something or donate something, just say “no” and keep walking.

The accident


You’re jostled in a crowd as someone spills ketchup or fake pigeon poop on your shirt. The thief offers profuse apologies while dabbing it up — and pawing your pockets. There are variations: Someone drops something, you kindly pick it up, and you lose your wallet. Or, even worse, someone throws a baby into your arms as your pockets are picked.

Room Inspector- If someone knocks on your hotel room door, without being called and claiming to be room inspectors do not let them in. Kindly say you will close the door and call the reception to make sure.

Big Scandals – Not all the scandals that happen in public areas are between victims and scammers. If you see a vendor having a big discussion with a customer, claiming they are stealing from them, make sure to watch your valuables throughout the whole scene. Usually they have partners which seem as shocked as you are by the situation, but secretly patting tourists for their wallets.

Where are you from?– This question is often asked by people you meet in bars and such and it is fine, but if a person randomly asks you for a cigarette or directions and ask where are you from afterwards, beware. Respond and say you are in a hurry. Usually they show an incredible knowledge about your country’s culture, while studying where your wallet is.

Taxi Scams

This is a classic, but people still seem to fall for it. Taxi drivers especially in airports, refuse to turn on the taximeter as it is “broken”, or they change the time specified so you pay a larger fare. This can be resolved by simply researching online the costs and agreeing on a price beforehand. Also make sure the taxi you are entering is licensed.


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Tiago Costa

About Tiago Costa

Hello! I'm Tiago, I am a social media intern at Easytobook. A harpist wannabe, part-time backpacker, avid flea market hunter, napkin writer, who particularly loves snow ( as I can't get any on my hometown of Brasilia).

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