The major cities of the world offer some of the most famous and impressive attractions in existence. They’re packed with things to see and do and are often at the top of the average bucket list. The downside to traveling to big cities is that, in any place where there are huge numbers of tourists, there are also bound to be scammers looking to prey on them.
Luckily, scammers tend to be fairly easy to recognize if you know what you’re looking for. They also tend to rely on the same old tricks, so familiarizing yourself with their ways can help you to avoid becoming a victim.
10 Fake Petitions For Charity
It can be tempting to sign a petition or donate to charity when a friendly stranger approaches you near a famous landmark and pleads on behalf of starving children or homeless women. But if the petition is in English and you’re being approached in a crowded, touristy place, it is a scam. Don’t give your details and don’t give any money.
To make sure that you’re actually supporting a real charity, do extensive research online first. The people who approach you near landmarks are looking to pocket your donation and pickpocket you.
9 Vendors Scamming You Out Of Change
If you’re obviously a tourist, some vendors will try to short change you. They deal with tourists every day who don’t understand the local currency and believe they can get away with it. To avoid losing out, make sure you’re familiar with every coin and paper note of the local currency, and always count out your change before you leave the store.
Don’t wait until you get back to your room to count the change. If you only find out you’ve been scammed later, it’s difficult to prove, and the vendor could accuse you of being the scammer.
8 Stores Pretending To Close
This one happens a lot on famous shopping strips like London’s Oxford Street. The stores will pretend that they are about to close down, and put up discount signs to try and clear their stocks. These discounts seem like a bargain, but they often require you to buy four or more items before they apply.
Remember that this is just a way to get you to spend more money than you otherwise would. Don’t feel pressured to part with your money just because you think it’s your last chance to buy from this store, or because you think you’re getting a special offer.
7 Con Artists Selling Luxury Brands
If you’ve ever visited cities like Rome, you’ll be familiar with this old scam. Vendors sell accessories that they claim are high-end brands like Versace or Fendi for a fraction of the regular price. You think you’ve stumbled upon a great deal, only to be left with a fake bag or pair of sunglasses. And that’s not even the worst part.
Being caught with a fake luxury product could land you in serious trouble with customs, and leave you with a fine of much more than the bag cost to buy in the first place.
6 Buddhist “Monks” Asking For Donations
Fake Buddhist monks are commonly found in New York City, though they’re starting to appear in other major cities around the world. Dressed in what look like traditional Buddhist garments, these “monks” aggressively ask for donations and keep them for themselves. Many tourists give in out of instilled respect for men of the cloth.
You know that the monks are fake if they approach you around famous points of interest for tourists, including Times Square or Central Park. Also, New Yorkers will flat out ignore them as they walk past.
5 Friendship Bracelets You Have To Pay For
Sometimes you don’t notice a scam until it’s already unfolded before your eyes. Particularly in touristy European cities, strangers will approach you around tourist attractions and strap a “friendship bracelet” to your wrist without asking. Before you even have time to say no, they’ll start to ask for payment.
The best way to avoid this is to be on your guard around crowded tourist destinations and be wary of any stranger approaching you in the street. Don’t be afraid to sternly tell them that you’re not interested if they come up to you or reach for your wrist.
4 “Friendly" Strangers Helping You To Buy Tickets
Sometimes when you look visibly lost or confused in a train station overseas, a stranger will approach and offer to buy the tickets for you. Most of the time, they’ll buy you a child’s ticket and keep the change, or just take off with your money.
The saddest thing about common scams is that they make us lose our ability to trust people. It would be lovely to trust a stranger who offers you help in a foreign city, but the likelihood that they’re actually helping you just isn’t very high.
3 People Throwing Things At You
One of the top techniques of pickpockets is to distract you while they subtly take your belongings. And an age-old way that they do this in tourist destinations around the world is by throwing things at you so you’re forced to divert your attention away from your wallet.
A common item to throw is a doll that looks like a baby. Obviously when you think a real baby is being hurled at you, you’ll do what you can to try and catch it, and that’s when your defenses will be down and your wallet will be up for the taking.
2 Fake ATMs
You may be used to perfectly safe ATM machines where you’re from, but this isn’t always the case in touristy cities. Card-scanning happens by con-artists who tamper with ATMs to record your details. The best way to avoid this is to only use ATMs that have long queues and are in reputable locations. For example, it’s better to use an ATM attached to a bank than one in a quiet alley.
Keep records of all your withdrawal and spending activity, and notify your bank the moment you notice anything strange.
1 Bag Swipers
In some cities, bag swiping is a serious problem. This is where thieves will snatch your bag and make off with it before you have a chance to do anything about it. In cities with many bike riders, like Amsterdam, this is a common occurrence.
Always hold your bag on the side opposite from the road when walking next to a bike lane, or any road where there’s traffic. It’s better to wear your bag across your body rather than simply over your shoulder, so it’s harder for thieves to swipe.