Traveling is both exciting and risky. When you’re heading to new places, there are so many opportunities to discover new things. A whole new world is awaiting you. The risk also comes with a lack of knowledge. Since this is all new to you, you may not be able to recognize what’s normal and what’s not when you’re exploring a new locale or visiting a tourist attraction.
Unfortunately, there are people who are willing to take advantage of that. These scammers prey on unwitting tourists like yourself, hoping to make a quick buck by duping someone willing to trust them or pity them.
These scammers tend to collect in places where they know tourists will visit. That’s why you can find them waiting outside the door of almost any popular tourist attraction anywhere around the world. Some of these scams are almost unique or occur frequently in certain places, while others are almost universal.
The general rule of thumb is the more popular the attraction, the more likely you’ll encounter at least a few scam artists. The best thing you can do is be prepared and aware of these common scams. If you plan on traveling to any of these attractions, be on the lookout.
20 Scammers Will Sell Low-Priced Great Wall Tours
There’s no denying the Great Wall of China is one of the world’s biggest tourist attractions. After all, it’s visible from space. The Great Wall draws in many tourists every year, but it also has its fair share of scammers.
You’ll likely run into these scammers before you set foot on the Wall, if you even make it there. If you’re traveling from Beijing, chances are you’ll find some people offering what seems to be a great deal on tours. The trick? You’ll go everywhere and anywhere except the actual Wall, stopping at thinly disguised tourist sites that include shops, performances, and “traditional” medicine. It’s all designed to get you to spend your money at the scammers’ businesses.
19 You Might End Up Buying Phony Tickets For NYC’s Free Attractions
New York City is a prime spot for tourists, and the city has many free attractions. You can see so many museums for free or for a discounted price. Always check out these deals and the price of admission before you go. Keep your phone handy, and be ready to Google.
That’s how you’ll foil this last scam, which is incredibly common in the Big Apple. People will offer you high-priced tickets for totally free attractions! Stay on guard, especially near the Staten Island Ferry. The ferry is a free, round-the-clock service, and you don’t need a ticket to ride.
18 Skip India’s Finest Marble At The Taj Mahal
This is a fairly elaborate scam, and you can find variants of it all over the world. This version is popular at the Taj Mahal in India. A young vendor will approach you outside, asking if you’d like to see “India’s finest marble.” Almost immediately, an older vendor will chase this person away, apologizing to you about untrustworthy people and scammers.
You’ll then be invited to the “legitimate” vendor’s shop. Chances are you’ll pick something up, haggling to get a deal. Head out of the shop, however, and you’ll likely find you’ve grossly overpaid for a trinket that isn’t even real marble! The “vendors” were working together to pull off this scam.
17 Female Travelers Should Beware At The Spanish Steps And Trevi Fountain
You can find this particular scam all over the world, in almost any tourist hot spot, but it’s particularly popular at tourist-friendly sites in Rome. You’re likely to encounter it at the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. It particularly preys on young women travelers, so beware.
Someone will approach you and place a “free” friendship bracelet on your wrist. In other versions of the scam, they might hand you a sprig of rosemary “for good luck.” Once you’ve accepted the gift, they’ll demand payment, even though they said it was free!
The best advice is not to allow them to place anything on you in the first place.
16 NYC Is Full of Music Artist Scammers
New York City is known as a hub for arts and culture, and it’s long been an important part of the music scene. Maybe that’s why no one really bats an eye at the number of people running around offering up their mix-tapes.
The scammers will often approach you with a compliment or flattery, before they offer you a CD with some of their “recordings.” They ask you to take it home and listen. If you accept, you’ll be asked to pay a fee or “give a donation.” Much like other, similar scams, this one works by trapping people in conversation. You don’t want to be rude, but you’re better to just walk away.
15 People Will Invite You For A Tea Ceremony In The Shopping Districts Of Shanghai And Beijing
This scam is popular all over Asia, and it has variations in other parts of the world as well. The version that takes place in shopping districts in major cities like Shanghai and Beijing go a little like this. A young woman or young women approach a traveler, usually a man. The woman asks for help with her English, then asks you to accompany her to a tea ceremony she’s on her way to.
Once you’re there, you’ll have no escape. Your “guide” will make a hasty exit, leaving you to pick up the bill. The price will be quite high, but if you try to leave without paying, you’ll find yourself in trouble with the doormen.
14 Almost Any Attraction Will Have The “Closed” Scam Running
This is another one of those scams you can find just about anywhere in the world. You’ll approach a temple, a square, or even a shop, only to have someone standing near the entrance tell you that the attraction is closed for the afternoon.
This particular scam should soon be on the wane as it becomes easier to Google on the fly, but many unsuspecting tourists still get suckered into this one. Whether you didn’t check the hours beforehand, or the attraction really did seem closed when you approached, the scammers will prey on your lack of knowledge. They’ll then “kindly” offer to help you by taking you to another attraction so they can charge you a high admittance fee.
13 You Can Find Fake Buddhist Monks In Boston And New York
This scam is popular the world over, and you can find it just as easily in Nepal as America. New York City and Boston are popular, however, as men dressed as Buddhist monks will stand outside major attractions. Similar to scams at the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain, the monks will offer a “free” gift. This might be beads, bracelets, or medallions.
They’ll then ask for a “donation” in exchange for the gift. This obviously leaves you in an awkward position. Do you want to be the person who doesn’t donate to the monks? Most people will pony up, even if they suspect these monks aren’t so holy.
12 The Eiffel Tower Is The Foremost Site For The Lost Ring Scam
The “lost ring” scam can happen almost anywhere, but it’s especially popular in Paris, and there’s almost no better spot for scammers to set up shop than in front of the Eiffel Tower. Here’s how it works.
Someone will approach you with a ring or another valuable, claiming to have seen you drop it. When you say it doesn’t belong to you, the scammer will suggest that you keep it anyway. Then they’ll ask for money for the item. It’s best to just walk away from this situation. If the person insists, keep refusing the item and leave the area.
11 London Is Full of Pickpockets
There are many places in London where you’ll find pickpockets. The same is true in most European countries, actually, and around the world as well. You can usually find people in highly trafficked areas like subway stations, bus stops, public plazas, and, yes, tourist attractions.
The pickpocket scam is evolving, however, as scammers will now actually warn you about pickpockets! As you walk away, you’ll likely check for your valuables, signaling to the helpful stranger’s accomplices which pockets they need to target. There are many ways to prevent being pickpocketed, so follow tips like carrying limited amounts of cash and using safer carrying methods.
10 Bangkok’s Grand Palace Is Famous For The Gem Scam
This is a variation of the “attraction is closed” scam, which gets points for mixing in a variant of the marble scam outside the Taj Mahal. The location is Bangkok’s Grand Palace, a popular tourist destination.
When you arrive, you’ll be told the palace is closed. The helpful local will then arrange for you to see another attraction or two. On the way, you’ll be told about some duty-free Thai gem scheme that will allow you to sell precious stones from home. If you agree, you’ll be taken to a shop to purchase jewelry. As you might have guessed, the gems are actually fake!
9 The Great Pyramids’ Vendors Are Pushy
The Great Pyramids of Giza are the last of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and tourists still flock to this site. While there are many other historic places to visit in Egypt, including other tombs, the Great Pyramids still take top billing.
The site is, unfortunately, a tourist mecca, which means vendors and scammers collect here, ready to fleece unsuspecting travelers. Many vendors are just a bit pushy or aggressive, but some will scam you by forcing you to purchase a camel ride. Others will agree to a price for a service, only to change an extra fee once all is said and done.
8 Anywhere You Need to Taxi To Could Be A Lurking Scam
Need to get to your hotel from the airport, or perhaps back again at the end of your trip? Maybe you flag down a cab to get from your hotel to a nearby attraction, or maybe you hop a taxi to get from one town to another. Anywhere you need to go by taxi could be a scam in the making.
Taxis are infamous for the “broken meter” scam, but another popular one is taking a longer route or, sometimes, not even delivering you to your destination at all. Since you’re not a local, you likely don’t know the best ways to get from Point A to Point B, which is what these scammers rely on.
7 The Colosseum’s Modern Gladiators Are Scam Artists
The Colosseum was once the seat of gladiator matches and other entertainment for the people of ancient Rome. Today, you can still see gladiators roaming around this historic venue, but beware! Most of the people you’ll see dressed up are scam artists.
This scam works by allowing you to record video or take a photo with the supposed “gladiators.” Once you have, they’ll ask you for payment, and they usually demand an outrageous sum. And many of them will approach you for the photo or video opportunity. Say no and walk away. Better yet, inform the police, since a new law has introduced a fine of up to 400 euros for anyone running this trick.
6 Roses In Italy And France Are Bad News
The rose scam is very similar to the lost ring scam or the friendship bracelet scam. It’s popular in Italy and France, although you can find some enterprising person running it in almost any tourist hot spot.
How does it work? Someone, usually a young man, will offer a female tourist a rose. They usually target couples, as it makes it difficult to refuse the “gift” of the rose. The scammer will compliment the woman, then pass her a rose. If she accepts, the scammer asks her beau for payment! Your significant other is now stuck between a rock and a hard place: fork over some cash, or give the rose back and look like a jerk.
5 Unofficial Tour Guides Are Everywhere
When you’re booking a tour for a popular tourist attraction, a good piece of advice is to always book in advance. You may want to book through the hotel concierge or even by looking at review sites and finding highly rated tour companies.
Why? If you book at the site, you run a high risk of getting scammed! You’ll find unofficial tour guides all over the place. This scam is particularly popular in Asia, but you can find them in Italy and almost anywhere else. In some versions of the scam, you’ll be asked to pay up front, and then asked to pay more again later. The second version is that you’ll just get a very low-quality tour.
4 Beware The Pigeons In Italian Piazzas
This particular scam can happen almost anywhere, but it’s popular in public spaces like squares and piazzas. You’ll find it all across Europe and in other tourist destinations, but most Italian cities, with their picturesque and historic public spaces, are prime locations for this one.
Someone will grab your hand, passing you some corn or grain. They then whistle, and a horde of pigeons will descend upon you! You’ll be surrounded by the almost-tame birds as they hope for a bite. The stranger will offer to take a picture of your Snow White moment. Then they’ll demand a fee for this “service.”
3 Venice’s Water Taxis Are A Prime Target
There are some places in the world where taking a water taxi is a must. Venice is a great example, since getting around by boat is a primary form of transportation in this city. Tourists are usually told they need to take the taxi at least once.
Tourists often find themselves purchasing resold tickets for jacked up prices. Scammers locate themselves in places like the Tronchetto parking terminal or another place where travelers heading to the taxis gather. The scammers might also take you to private taxi boats instead, which are much more expensive than the public ones. Stick to purchasing your tickets from official outlets.
2 Beijing And Other Cities Have Problems With Unofficial Taxis
In most major cities, licensing taxis is a must. Any cab operating without a license is usually subject to a hefty fine. This is done to protect people, both locals and tourists, who are likely to get ripped off by those who don’t have a license.
You can look to Beijing for an example of what happens with unlicensed taxis. You’ll be told the taxi is a great price, but halfway through your ride, a higher fare will be demanded. And if you don’t want to cough up? The unlicensed taxi driver can just stop and leave you stranded, often on the side of a highway or in a secluded place.
1 Taxis and 'fake police' work together at Full Moon Parties
A full moon party is an experience every tourist should experience in Thailand. That said, they’re sometimes a little overrated, and one of the reasons for that is because they’re such big tourist attractions.
That means they also bring out the fraudsters full force. If you’re on your way to a full moon party, you’ll want to watch out for your taxi driver. They’ll offer illegal things and if you accept, fake police will just happen to be walking by and catch you! You’ll then be ordered to pay a hefty fine. Another variation of this scam happens at airports as well, so be on guard.
References: News.com.au, ChinaMike, ExpertVagabond, Business Insider, Oyster.com, TravelScams.com, Lifehacker.com