20 Of The Most Common USA Tourist Swindles To Watch Out For

People love to travel and see new places. In plenty of cases, they have already been somewhere before and are visiting again. This doesn’t mean that they know everything about the area though. Sometimes you may even live in a certain place for a good number of years and not even know what’s going on in the immediate region. That’s because scammers are good at what they do. If they weren’t, they would probably have a regular job.

These sketchy people have become a major part of the things we worry about when we travel. You always have to be on the lookout for someone trying to steal your money or belongings. There are so many ways to attempt this type of thievery that it’s impossible to name them all, but today we will shed some light on at least some of the more common practices.

The first thing you should always remember is that old saying that you have heard before: “If it’s too good to be true, it is.” The second thing you should always have in mind is that you should always pay close attention to your surroundings and anything you may have with you, such as a bag or luggage. Some of the things you are about to read about will show you just how easy it is to be suckered in one of these traps. Always be on guard!

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20 The Dog That Isn’t Man’s Best Friend

via TheNextTycoon

Anytime that you are carrying bags or luggage of any sort you are a mark for criminals. A very popular scam is a man eating a hot dog will somehow get some mustard on you by accident. He will either drop it against your shirt or find a way to squirt some on you.

After the “accident” they will try to help you clean it up, even if you don’t want the help. It’s a ploy to keep your attention away from your belongings. Once you are completely focused on the man trying to clean you up, his buddy will swoop in and take your stuff and quickly leave the area.

19 It’s A Sinking Ship

via Wikipedia

One of the things people love to do in New York is taking the ferry out to the Statue of Liberty, or just go on a regular ferry ride to see the skyline. When you go to the New York Harbor to get on one of these boats you’ll find a lot of people selling tickets to get on selected ferry’s. NEVER buy them, they are a huge scam.

The tickets will range from twenty bucks all the way up to one hundred dollars. The actual cost of the boat ride is zero. Nothing.

The ride to Staten Island is always free so don’t buy tickets!

18 Not So Sweet Music

via Inlander

When you are walking down the street and someone offers you a free CD of their music, just keep on walking. If you wanted their CD you’d already have it. These guys wait for you to come by and offer you a “free” CD but once you have it you’ll find out it’s not so free after all. It's common on Hollywood Boulevard as well as around Times Square in NYC, among other areas.

Once you take control of the disc you’ll be asked to pay for it. If you resist there will be a pressure session to get you to pay for it and eventually you will, just to get away.

This is also used to get your attention elsewhere so your bags and such can be stolen by someone else.

17 A Losing Game

via YouTube

This scam has been around as long as people have been breathing. If you see a setup with a guy playing Three Card Monty and it looks like people are winning, or it looks like you can easily follow the selected card, just keep on walking. Give your money to a homeless guy on the next block as he’ll appreciate it more.

This game is actually a slight of hand trick. No matter how easy you think it is, once your money is on the line you’ll lose every single time.

The other players are part of the scam to make you think you are smarter than they are. Just keep walking!

16 A Costly Order


A lot of hotels have this problem and they try hard to combat it. People will walk the halls of known tourist hotels and slip fake menus under the doors to the rooms. They look like menus for a local restaurant with great prices to entice the guest to call in and place an order. When they pay with their credit card the criminals have all of the info they need and the guest never gets any food.

The best thing to know to avoid this is never call any number that is slipped under a hotel room door. If you didn’t see it come from the restaurant, just go with the thought that it didn’t.

15 Leave The Chips In The Bag


If you are ever at a casino and someone wants to sell you some chips just ignore them and walk away. While chips are good to have there, if a stranger is trying to sell you some a great discount, know that you are about to get ripped off.

They will offer to pay you a good amount of money to cash in their poker chips for them, but in order for them to trust you with all of those high valued chips, you must give them your wallet to hold onto until you come back.

The poker chips are fake and by the time you get back, the person and your wallet will be long gone.

14 An Expensive Meal (For You)


Meeting strangers at a casino can be a lot of fun. You might even be lucky enough to meet a real friend or two. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to be extremely careful and smart.

One of the scams that happen a lot in casinos is a stranger will tell you that they hit a major jackpot and want to celebrate. So they offer to take you to dinner, either there in the casino or somewhere else. If you don’t know this person you’d better decline the invite.

The scam is halfway through the meal the person will get up and go to the bathroom and never return. In that scenario, you know who is going to pay the bill right? You are!

13 Not So Very Important Person


Never, ever buy a VIP pass to anything out on the street. You’ll see them advertised a lot but they rarely, if ever, are what you think they are. It may offer you a free beverage or a lower entrance fee and sometimes completely free entrance to events.

When you get there you’ll find that you’re looking at a spending minimum or a higher entrance fee or if it was advertised as free entry, a cost to get through the door.

If you don’t purchase these passes directly from the affiliated company, don’t waste your money. You’ll throw enough of it away once you get inside so you’ll need every dime!

12 The Wrong Kind Of Jackpot


Whenever you go inside a venue Las Vegas you always have to pay attention to EVERYTHING. There are scammers around every single corner waiting to spot someone who isn’t paying attention to what’s going on around them.

Another type of casino scam is someone will drop some money on the floor near you, or maybe a chip or two. You, thinking they are being helpful, look down and see something and tell them it’s not yours. Or maybe you are the type of person who will pick it up and claim it. Either way, when you are busy with that, someone else will come up on the other side of you and steal whatever you don’t have secured.

That could be a bucket of tokens, chips, wallet or your purse.

11 The Gift Of Taking

via YouTube

Everyone loves to give to charities and help people out. You have to be very careful though in who and what you donate to. You always have to make sure that the cause you are donating to is actually real.

There are so many scammers out there trying to steal your money and prey on the fact that you want to be generous and helpful.

Sometimes a person won’t be affiliated with who they say and sometimes the charity isn’t even real. They’ll even go as far as showing you fake paperwork to prove they are real. If you want to make donations to charities it’s usually a good idea to just do it in person.

10 Lost Luggage

via VideoBlocks

If you are in a strange city and need to take a cab always make sure to keep a close eye on all of your stuff. Just because a cab driver gives you a lift and offers to help you with your luggage or bags, doesn’t mean that they are a nice person.

There have been countless instances where a cabbie will rush you out of the cab, grab your stuff from the trunk, shut it and quickly drive away. By the time you realize that you are a bag or two short, he is long gone with almost the perfect crime. So always watch your stuff carefully and never let a cabbie rush you.

9 Las Vegas Losers


That fabulous ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign has been in countless movies, television shows, and commercials. When you see it for the first time you’ll want your photo taken in front of it and why not? Thousands of others have done the same thing before you.

Be aware though that there are people hanging around who will tell you that they are the official photographer of the sign or the area. That job doesn’t exist so if you hear that, know they are going to try to rip you off. Once they take your pic, they will want a high fee for it, something that they failed to mention previously.

8 An Underground Breeding Ground (For sketchy people)

via Flickr

Riding the subway can be a scary experience for countless reasons. One of the biggest is because it’s a breeding ground for sketchy activity down there. You should always be on high alert when using the mass transportation system.

It's one of the biggest subway scams: People will use something sharp to cut through the side or bottom of your bag. They can reach in or your valuables could fall out for them to easily steal.

When this happens you are usually miles away before you realize it. So always pay attention to what’s going on around you and there are also anti-theft bags that you can buy now.

7 “The Shortest Route Please!”

via Grist

If you are in a strange city you rely on cab drivers to know the best way to get from one point to another. However, you should do a little research before you climb into a cab. At least look it up and see where you are going so you have a general idea of the route you need to take.

Many cabbies will take the longest route possible so they can maximize their profit on your trip. It doesn’t bother them at all because they are not in any rush at all. Also, if you have to go over a bridge or through a tunnel, find out ahead of time who is covering that cost. The driver may have to according to company policy, but they won’t always tell you that.

6 The Double Tip


You don’t have to be a tourist to have this one attempted on you. When you are at a restaurant and have just enjoyed a fantastic meal, don’t get lazy and stop paying attention. Look at the bill carefully because a lot of places will automatically add a tip into your final bill now. Not only that, but there will be a blank line a little below it that is called an ‘additional tip’.

If you miss that gratuity already figured into your bill above that, you could end up giving two tips. And if your service wasn’t worth one, you’ll be quite upset to learn that you gave them two.

5 Literally Into Thin Air


A lot of people use public WIFI now and it’s quickly becoming the norm in our everyday lives. You have to be very careful though because while it’s free and public, it’s not secure. You should never log into an important sight such as your bank account or credit card account while using public WIFI.

Someone could be sitting nearby waiting for you to log in and before you know it, your money is gone, into thin air.

While there are programs you can buy for your safety, it’s always a good idea to save the important stuff for home use where you know you are secure.

4 The Candy Bar Markup


Everywhere you go you’ll usually run into someone selling candy bars for some sort of fundraiser. Most of the time they are real and you don’t have anything to worry about, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to be careful.

In New York, there have been several instances of people just buying candy at the local grocery store and then going out and selling them at very high markups, claiming they are raising money for uniforms or some charity. In a lot of cases, the money goes right into the pocket of the peddler so be careful who you purchase from while out on the streets.

3 Card Skimming Will Have You Swimming (In Debt)

via MLive

In today’s world, most people use credit or debit cards for purchases when they are out and about. Before you put your card into a machine you should give it a look over first. A lot of places have a tape that allows you to see if the machine has been messed with. However, whenever a new security measure is created, the scammers work hard to find a way around it.

Gas stations are a popular place for this scam to be set up. Always look over your machine carefully and if you think anything is wrong just go inside and use the machine in there. When someone is near a machine at all times it’s a very rare occasion that it can be compromised.

2 Not A Midnight Delight

via iStock

If you are in a hotel and the phone rings in the middle of the night, it’s best to just not answer it. There have been numerous occasions reported that a call comes in the middle of the night claiming to be the front desk. They will say there is some sort of billing error and will ask to verify your credit or debit card number. They will purposely say a wrong number so that you will correct them and give them your full number, without even thinking twice about it.

They prey on the fact that you were asleep and are not thinking clearly.

Never do this. If there is ever any question just go down to the front desk in person.

1 This round's On You!


This one has been happening for years and people still fall for it. If you are at a bar and someone approaches you, be very careful. He or she could be real and sincere, but they could also be looking for free drinks.

A lot of time the person will claim that they have to go to the bathroom and wants you to watch their spot or their bag. When they leaves, they will walk to the other end of the bar and order a drink and tell the bartender you are paying for it. They will wave at you and you’ll wave back, unknowingly confirming the drink will be added to your tab.

In a lot of cases, the bag that you are watching is empty and that mystery person never returns.

References: travelscams.org

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