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Beware of These 15 Tourist Scams

jacquelinebuch profile picture
Jacqueline PaumierGuest Blogger
July 08, 2016 · 2.1k Views

There’s no better way to get the most from traveling than immersing yourself in the culture you are visiting. Stepping away from the guided bus tours and getting lost in the streets of somewhere new has a way of broadening your perspective and allowing you to learn through an unforgettable experience.

While this mode of “local style” travelling is both exhilarating and highly recommended, it does come with its fair share of risks for both your safety and your wallet. We have put together a list of  of the most common tourist scams to watch for during your travels.


1. The Bracelet

Source: Pick Your Trail

This scam will be found frequently in Paris, Barcelona, Rome, and Cairo. While walking the streets, particularly in a marketplace atmosphere, someone will approach you to offer a “friendship bracelet”. While the offer may seem flattering, and the idea of making friends internationally is appealing, you’re being scammed. Once you get that bracelet on your wrist you they will ask you for payment, or the exchange will be used as a distraction to pickpocket you.

2. "I Found A Ring"

This scam is common in Paris and involves a woman dropping a ring and then asking you if it’s your ring. Once the conversation opens up, she will point out to you what an expensive ring it is (it’s not) and then attempt to sell it to you for higher than it’s worth. Trust us, keep walking.

3. The Drug Deal

Common in eastern countries where you will find many taxi or tuk-tuk drivers. While you are on your way to a party your driver will offer you drugs for free, when you accept them some fake policemen that just happen to be walking by will catch you and demand you pay an extremely high fee or be put in jail. All things considered, it’s probably best to not accept drugs from strangers in foreign countries.

4. Rose for a Pretty Girl

Source: Where's My Backpack

You can blame this one on Hollywood stereotypes that portray French/Spanish/Italian men as charming womanizers that hand out roses to American women at random. They don’t. If you accept the rose they will accept payment, or even worse, if you are with your husband or boyfriend they will guilt your boyfriend into buying one for you so he doesn’t look bad.

5. Street Games

While many street performers are attempting to make an honest living, be particularly weary of performances that involve audience interaction or a high level of focus. While you’re paying full attention to the show, the performer's accomplice (often dressed as tourists) will go through the crowd pickpocketing the audience while they are distracted.

6. Stain on Your Jacket

Most likely to happen in Latin countries like Buenos Aires or Rio De Janeiro, this common scam can easily be confused for an act of kindness. A local will “accidently” spill something on you, or notice a stain that just happened to be there, and when they offer to help you clean it they will help themselves to whatever they find in your pockets.

7. Catch the Baby

Source: Scam Detector

This one is a bit harder to avoid as no one wants to drop a baby, so try and keep your guard up especially while travelling in Rome. A woman will suddenly throw her baby to you (relax, it’s probably a doll) as a distraction while her accomplice attempts to dig through your pockets or bags.

8. Cashier on the Phone

When approaching the cashier to pay for your purchase, you may find a talkative employee gabbing away on her cellphone. While it may seem like an innocent phone conversation, what’s really happening is that she is snapping photos of your credit card. Be on the safe side, and use cash whenever possible.

9. The Free Massage

This con often happens in tropical locations like the Bahamas or Barbados while you are lounging on the beach. A man will approach you and offer you a free massage. At this point it’s best to change locations because even if you decline he will begin to hang around and attempt to guilt or annoy you into handing over an expensive payment.

10. The Fake Ticket

Source: NY Daily News

While waiting in line for a ticket to a museum, subway, or event, a professional looking (but fake) staff member will offer you tickets at a higher price  to avoid standing in line. While this would be a great offer if it worked, you will quickly find that the ticket is fake. Watch out for this scam in cities like London and Paris.

11. The Flirt

Watch out boys! This scam is common in Athens, and involves a beautiful woman approaching a lone male traveler and flirting with him. Once the man is on her hook she will invite him to a nightclub or bar where flirtation will quickly become extortion.

12. The Broken Camera

An excited group of tourists will ask you to take their picture, or hang around until you offer. Unfortunately, the camera won’t work and once you attempt to hand it back they will “accidently” drop it causing it to smash onto the ground making it appear to be your fault. The group will either demand that you pay to replace the camera or use the whole scene as an easy distraction for pick-pocketers to help themselves to your belongings.

13. A Call from the Front Desk

Source: Scam Detector

This scam happens on an international scale, so remember to never give out your information over the phone! An identity thief will call your room pretending to be a concierge from the front desk. They will claim there has been an issue with your card and ask for you to confirm your credit card details. Save yourself from this situation by simply visiting the front desk to see what’s really going on.

14. The Fake Menu

You will find a seemingly tempting take away menu tucked under your hotel room door. After calling and giving your payment information to order food you will find yourself staying hungry and left with major credit card chargers after the “take away” business copies your card.

15. The Slow Counter

A cashier will intentionally count your change at an incredibly slow rate hoping you will become impatient and tell them to keep the change, when the change is actually a much lower sum than what you were owed.


jacquelinebuch profile picture
Jacqueline is a modern day gypsy, who has lived in several countries and has traveled to over 20. A sucker for all things pleasing to the senses; her world revolves around food (any and all food), foreign indie films, and salsa music. The first to jump off a waterfall and the last to say no to sushi, she has been described as a bit of an “extremist”. In her perfect world, no one ever spells “cool” as “kool” and Ryan Gosling has more tattoos. She enjoys spending her free time in her New Orleans home with her Cubano guitarist husband and 1-year-old son.

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