20 Common Street Scams Every World Traveler Needs To Know About

Bicycle touring is an activity that takes place in the street… and because of this, it means interacting with the types of people who are commonly found on the roadside. Some of these people are kind, friendly and helpful, while others are there to prey off the weak and vulnerable.

foreign money pile

In this article I will share with you some of the most common street/travel scams I have encountered from all around the world. This article is not meant to scare you, but is instead designed to inform you about some of the most common scams and robbery techniques so that you can watch out for them and, most importantly, not fall prey to them during your travels.

I’ve listed the scams in order from, what I believe to be, most common to least common.

The “No-Change” or “Wrong Change” Trick

The most common example of this scam occurs when paying for an item that requires a small amount of change. Often times, the individual in question will say that he does not have any change to give you in return, or he will give you only part of your change in return – thereby pocketing the rest as a profit. Be sure to count your change before walking away to make sure you have received the correct amount.

Another variation of this scam occurs when you make a payment that requires change and an individual demands that you pay the exact amount. If you are not very attentive however, the indivudual may “forget” to return your initial payment to you. It may seem strange not to notice this, but in a fast moving and confusing setting, it happens more easily than you think – especially if you are somewhat tired or confused.

In another variation, a seller will insist that he does not have change for the item you purchased and that you should accept goods (often of low-quality) in place of your change. If you ask to “cancel” the sale and get your money back, the seller may become quite pushy in insisting that you take the goods. He may also try and make you feel guilty because he needs the money for his family or business. If paying with large bills, it is best to ask if the seller has the proper change before handing over any of your money.

A final variation of the “no-change” trick involves ticket windows at tourist sites. Ticket sellers will take your money, take a long time stamping your tickets, talking to colleagues, taking your ID as security for audio guides, etc., and simply “forget” to give you your change. They may give you some brief information, smile, and say “okay” or “here you go” to distract you and send you on your way. Once you leave the window you have no chance of getting your change, so be sure to ask for your change and not be distracted by their “helpful information.”

The “You Didn’t Pay The Full Amount” Scam

In this scam you make a purchase from a business for a certain amount of merchandise for an agreed upon price. You then hand over your money, but before the merchandise is actually delivered into your hands, the owner pockets some of the money you gave him and claims you paid less than you did. There are no other witnesses, so it’s your word against his. This is common at food stands, where the merchant receives the cash before the food is delivered into your hands, so you are now at his mercy. The best way to prevent this scam from happening is, rather than handing over a number of different bills or coins, you count out your payment before handing it over and you both agree on how much is being exchanged before the money leaves your hands.

Distraction Scams

Distraction thefts take a variety of forms. Generally the thieves work in groups: one or more will distract you and the other will rob you while you’re distracted. Examples of distractions include:

  • ready-made distractions like a busker, departure boards, or your own phone or music player;
  • having an attractive or friendly accomplice talk to you;
  • minor assaults, such as throwing things at you or “accidentally” bumping into you;
  • having a child talk to you and when the child’s “parent” comes to apologize, the child steals something due to the distraction of the new conversation;
  • fake drownings, robberies and similar emergencies causing you to leave your belongings behind;
  • or staged assaults/fights between accomplices.

It’s best to be aware of what’s going on around you in any public place and to be suspicious of strangers who appear to be trying to single you out. If you are the victim of a minor assault, suspect that it’s the prelude to a robbery attempt and, if you feel safe enough, try to get in a position where you can look after your belongings. But beware, you may need to refuse the help of concerned onlookers as it’s common to have an accomplice or two pose as concerned onlookers.

Insistent Help

Sometimes locals will simply try to force themselves on you to help with a ticket machine, a subway map or directions. For bicycle travelers, the most common example of this scam involves someone suggesting that they watch your bicycle for you while you go inside a store to shop. They might just be overly helpful, or they may also be looking for and demand a small tip for their forced help. In general, be wary of anyone who forces their way into your personal space and who starts doing things for you without asking you if you need them. In many instances, it is the person who offers his or her help that you need to be most concerned about.

The Currency Swap Scam

If you are persuaded to buy souvenirs or other items from people selling on the street, look at the change you are given from the sale before putting it in your wallet: it may be in a different currency of similar appearance. For example, in China, a street-vendor may hand you a 50 ruble note in change instead of 50 yuan; the former is worth one-third as much as the latter. Also be careful that the notes you receive are not ripped or damaged as these may not be accepted elsewhere.

Credit Card Scams

There are several different types of credit card scams, but the most common instance occurs when you use your card to pay in a shop or restaurant. While your card is out of your sight, it is swiped not only in the machine that sends the information to your bank for approval, but also on a second machine that records the card’s identifying information from the magnetic strip. (The card information may also be written down on paper… or they make take a photo/video of the credit card details). The copy of the card, or the credit card number, is then used by the thieves to buy goods and services. Often, this is an inside job: employees of the outlet are using the information themselves or are being paid to acquire it.

The best way to prevent this scam from happening is to keep your card in sight at all times. Unfortunately, the typical restaurant custom is to let the restaurant staff take your card away and bring you back a receipt to sign. That being said, it is becoming more common for restaurants to bring a wireless credit card machine to your table so you don’t have to worry about the data being stolen.

When you travel, be sure to keep the receipts you receive when you use your credit card and check them regularly against your credit card statement. Make sure the amounts match up and make sure there are no additional purchases you didn’t make. Report any discrepancies to your credit card company: the liability rests with them, not you, as long as you report fraudulent transactions in a timely manner.

Passport as Security for Debt or Rental

If you rent equipment like a jet ski, motorcycle or bicycle, you may be asked to give your passport as a security guarantee. After returning the rented goods, the owner claims you damaged the item and will ask for exaggerated prices to compensate or claim to have “lost” your passport (later the police or lost property office will want a substantial “donation” for its return). If you do not agree, they threaten to keep your passport.

In another variation, your passport is simply never returned to you (either because they take it from you and disappear… or because you simply forgot to get it back). The passport is then sold for a profit and you are stuck in a foreign country without any documentation.

To prevent this from happening to you, never hand over your passport as a security or guarantee in any circumstances. Pay cash (and get a receipt), or hand over something comparatively worthless, like your library card, student ID, or an old gift card of some kind (I prefer using expired American Express gift cards, because they look like valuable credit cards). You can also try going to another business that doesn’t require your passport as a security guarantee. Often times, the threat of leaving the business will be enough to make them agree to whatever you are proposing.

Accommodation Recommendations

In this simple scam, your driver, guide or a friendly local will tell you that the place you’re heading to is closed, no good or too expensive and that he knows of somewhere better to stay. While this may be true, it’s likely that the ‘better’ place is giving him a commission for referrals, and his commission is just going to increase your room rate.

You should insist on going to your planned destination… or on finding your own accommodation for the night. In some instances taxi drivers will refuse to drive you to your planned hotel, even if you insist. In some places, taxi drivers will take you to the wrong hotel and insist it is the one you requested!

To avoid being held hostage by a mercenary taxi, keep your luggage with you on the back seat (rather than loading it into the trunk) so you can credibly threaten to walk out and not pay. They’ll usually back down by the time you start opening the door — and if they don’t, get a new driver.

The best thing you can do is avoid using taxis whenever possible. Before arriving in a new location, have your accommodation pre-booked, find out where it is on the map and see if there is alternative transport such as local buses to get to or near your accommodation. If you can’t pre-book your own accommodation, try finding a place to stay on your own, asking for prices and to see the room, at several different places before agreeing on where you are going to stay.

Flat Tire Scams

In this scam, you stop to help a motorist who appears to have a flat tire. As you speak with the driver, an accomplice (one of his passengers) steals your purse, wallet, camera, or anything expensive to hand (this can happen within seconds).

Another variation of this scam takes place when tacks or nails are laid down in the roadway, causing you to get a flat tire on your bicycle, motorbike or car. When one or more people happen upon you and offer their assistance, you are happy to receive their help, only to later discover that they were robbing you while you were distracted and working on your flat tire.

Gifts from Strangers/Beggars

A beggar stops you on the street and gives you a “present.” Alternatively, they “find” something like a ring or flower and give it you. After a few moments of chit-chat, they start demanding money and follow you until you give them what they want.

This scam works because people feel guilty for accepting the free gift and then giving nothing in return. So the secret to avoiding this scam is easy. Don’t accept free gifts from strangers!

Another similar scam involves overly pushy people who pose as collecting money for a school or charity. A child, teenager or old man/woman will approach you, give you a flower or another small gift and expect you to “donate” money to their “cause.” Inquiring about the specifics of their “charity” may help to scare them off, but that’s not always the case. Ask lots of questions, see if they have any official paperwork, and be prepared to say “No” and walk away.

ATM Scams

If you need to use an ATM machine, especially in heavily trafficked tourist areas, exercise extreme caution. When possible, avoid ATM machines that are accessible from the street and instead use only ATM machines that are inside bank branches.

Low-tech ATM scam: Where someone watches as you key in your PIN and then physically steals your card and empties your account. To prevent this, ensure that your PIN cannot be seen when you enter it.

Medium-tech ATM scam: Where they rig the ATM so that it swallows your card and then retrieve the card after you stomp off in disgust. Having someone come and try to “help” you retrieve a lost card at this point is a red flag that you’ve been scammed — they’re trying to get your PIN. To prevent this, ignore offers for help, stay with the machine until authorized personnel arrive, and cancel your card immediately if you absolutely have to leave the machine.

High-tech ATM scam: Where they retrofit the ATM with a card reader that records your card details and PIN and then creates a cloned card. This is the nastiest form, as you may not notice a thing until it’s too late; the only form of prevention is to ensure that the card slot on the ATM machine has not been tampered with.

In all cases, the best thing to do is to check your statements frequently and regularly change your PIN while traveling. In the case of using an unfamiliar ATM machine, hover nearby for a moment or two before using the machine and watch to see if any other customers have their cards taken by the machine. Also watch the people near the machine to see if they are behaving in a suspicious manner.

Restaurant Scams

In this scam, a bar or restaurant will give you a menu with reasonable prices and then take it away after you place your order. When the bill is presented, the price for your meal is a lot higher that you expected it to be. If you argue about the price of the meal, they produce a menu with the higher prices listed on it. The best way to avoid this is to stay out of sleazy tourist bars… and to keep the menu at your table while you eat.

Watch out when asking for a menu in English, as the prices on the menu are sometimes higher than the menu in the native language. It is best to ask for a menu in both English and the native tongue – that way you can check to see if they prices are the same, regardless of language.

Another variation of this scam occurs when rather than ordering off the menu, your waiter offers you a “special” that is not shown on the menu. The meal will not be very special, but will come with a price considerably higher than anything else on the menu.

Entrance Fee / Pay Toilet Scams

In places where pay toilets or popular tourist attractions exist, a scammer will position him or herself in a location en-route to the restrooms / attraction. This gives the appearance that this is the person you are supposed to pay for the service. But then, after paying and passing this person, you are unexpectedly met by the true attendant who must also be paid. In other instances you will pay the scammer and then also need to pay a turnstile, or you may find that there was no fee to use the toilet or visit the attraction in the first place.

The “Water’s Not Safe to Drink” Scam

Many hotels in foreign countries often toured by westerners will leave signs in the rooms stating the water is not safe for drinking, and that drinking water must be purchased from the front desk or a minibar, often for sky high prices. In many of these countries, water is perfectly safe for consumption by visitors, and the hotel will tell you this in order to sell you bottled water. In some cases, they will give you the water bottles, implying they are free, but then add it on as a hidden charge later. To know whether or not the tap water is safe to drink somewhere, do your own independent research, and don’t rely on the hotel to provide you with this info.

Toll Roads

Legitimate tolls use existing structures. But in some rural areas, primitive makeshift gates and road blocks are set up on little traveled roads frequented by tourists, and money is demanded in exchange for passage. Saying “no,” being persistent and simply walking, driving or cycling past the gate/road block will work in some instances. However, there are times when it is best to simply offer up a small amount of money to let the locals leave you be so you can continue on your way. If you don’t want to pay the fee, be prepared to turn around and go back the way you came. You may need to find another way around.

The Red Light Robbery

While stopped at traffic lights, thieves open the doors to your car/taxi and take whatever they can, as quickly as they can. This is particularly prevalent in places like Brazil, Malaysia and South Africa. Another variation is to have someone drive past you on a scooter or motorcycle and snatch your bag or camera out of your hand. Because you are on foot, you will be unable to catch the thieves.

The Art School Scam

You are met in the street by people who say they are art students. They speak English well and invite you to visit their school. Then they will try to get you to buy one of their works for an excessive price. The “students” are usually attractive young women who are employed by the gallery to attract customers and to make the customers feel obliged to purchase “their” works and repay them for their friendliness.

Friendly Locals Wanting to Join You For Dinner or Drinks

In this scam you are approached or assisted in some way by one or more friendly locals. After striking up conversation, they may suggest going out for a drink, or that you go with them to a nearby restaurant or nightclub. It may seem as though you’ve just made a new friend (or friends), but once the evening ends, you are going to be expected to pay for the fun you’ve been having – the food, drinks, entry fees, etc.

Fake Police Officers

In this scam you are stopped or pulled over by a security guard, police officer or some other individual in uniform. The supposed officer says you are about to receive a large fine or even be taken to the local jail, but you can avoid this by paying a small cash fee. This is not a tactic used by law enforcement agencies anywhere in the world. Legitimate police officers care that the law is obeyed, not about the money they will receive. Police will either issue a real ticket that must be paid directly by mail or in person to the department, a warning in which no money needs to be paid at all, or they will let you go completely free. If you are in doubt, you have the right to request for another officer to come to the scene.

Be aware that it is quite easy to impersonate a police officer or any uniformed official. Police vehicles are typically models that are also sold to civilians, and many of these models have not been redesigned in many years, so older ones can be purchased cheaply. Rotating lights like those found on the dashboards of unmarked police vehicles can be purchased easily in electronics or hobby shops, and police uniforms and badges can be purchased from uniform stores. Never hand money over directly to a police officer, unless of course, you understand that you are offering a bribe.

Street Fights

In this final scam, you find yourself walking down the street when all of a sudden you see a bunch of people attacking another person (sometimes an old man or a woman) in the middle of the street. When you step in to help, bystanders take photos of you and will blackmail you afterwards to go to the police. Now you find out that the attacked person, the attackers and the photographer are a group. They will blackmail you for big amounts of money, because if they go to the police, you most likely need to leave the country.

Avoid this scam by following this piece of common sense: It is never wise to engage in fights. If you witness a fight, your best bet is to either walk away or alert the nearby police. Never get involved yourself. Laying your hand on a local in a foreign country may result in jail, deportation and heavy fines in countries.

So… what about you? Have you ever fallen victim to any of these street scams? What other street or travel scams have you seen or heard about during your travels? Leave a comment below and let me know what you have to say.

Photo by: epSos.de


19 thoughts on “20 Common Street Scams Every World Traveler Needs To Know About

  1. bruno says:

    A variant of the “no change” is that when the vendor say that he is going to try to change the money in another place and disappears with your money.
    In South America a lot of gipsys are scammers, once they approached my friend and asked for his wallet, took his money to make some magic, hired the money and mixed some paper with water pretending that that was his money and sad that his desires were going to be fulfilled. We asked the money back for about 30 min and after she showed us her boobs(hahaha), to proof she wasn’t with the money, and other things they gave back almost half the money that she had already distributed to 4 or 5 others gipsys.

    • Anthony says:

      Needless to say is to be alert on your surroundings , locals can smell you who you are … They already cased you before they approaches ..
      I carry 2 slim wallets with me , when traveling … One contains expired or used up credit cards similar to ones you buy at local stores . This is your give away when they demanded your wallet .

  2. rick says:

    Good round up of some common scams! I have experienced only a few of these after many years of travel. Watch out for beggars asking for money in any major tourist city centre. If you are approached by the same beggar (often young people) more than once, you are being set up for a robbery. I was approached by the same two young guys each day for four days. I had to change my flight so had my credit card and passport (and also a camera in a backpack).

    At the government run internet and phone centre, the backpack disappeared from under my feet even though I had one foot through one strap, I looked up and it was one of the guys. He ran off with my pack. After speeding round the backstreets in the back of a police car after reporting the theft, the police found him but he did not have my possessions. He had passed it to the other young guy as soon as he fled the internet centre. There was even a security guard on the door of the internet centre – also a part of the gang according to the police!

    When I went later to make a theft report, there were thirty people in front of me who had also had their passport and other items stolen, mainly while on trams or buses!

  3. Peter de Visser says:

    Marrakech(Morocco,our OWN experience.
    At the central market people do different shows with monkeys and snakes.
    The monkey/snake people work in a group (3 – 6 men), some play instruments while others handle the snakes/monkeys.
    When you stand to look at them, the man with the snakes comes to you and before you know it, he hangs (harmless) snakes around your shoulder etc. They do that so quickly that you hardly have time to refuse and say NO. (My surpised partner took pictures of course.)
    Now the money! There was no sign that told the price of this unexpected “show”. I understood that this was their “work”, so I took my wallet, kept it firm in my hands, covering the banknotes,and estimated for myself(they were a group of 6)to give them 10 dollars.To share of course, it’s some $ 1.50 p.p for their unannounced 2 minute “snakeshow” on my shoulders…However, he snakeman, seeing my $10,– started yelling, cursing and suddenly I was surrounded by another 3 men, pushing and angry whispering that I would be “in big trouble” if I did not pay more.
    Everything happened SO quickly while in the middle of a group threatening men, that I had to “pay my way out” for $ 30,–.(Of course I will survive that, but though..)
    Amazing! It happens at the most busy, touristic market in Marrakech, but they just surround you physically, form a shield around you and use your confusion and fear.
    Later we watched these groups from a distance and saw that even people taking (snake/monkey)pictures from a “safe” distance were agressively pursuit by them.

    Another experience:
    We arrived in Egypt at an airport once. We had met our tourist guide who pointed out the right bus/shuttle for us to our hotel.
    Suddenly some bags were lifted by somebody who started running with our luggage to the indicated bus.
    I hardly could stop him and get my bags back. In the hotel we heard that this type of unwanted “helpers” ask idiot prices when you let them carry your luggage to the bus.
    Of course most Egyptians (just like most Moroccans) are poor, but these men are scams and their methods to cheat tourist are scary.

  4. Peter de Visser says:

    I remember another one:
    Last year (summer 2013) we biked from Buenos Aires(Arg.)to Rio de Janeiro (Brasil).
    Along one of the huge lakes in SE-Brasil we found a very, very simple “hotel”. (You can’t camp out for that price!)
    The owner only spoke Portugese, so we communicated with hands/feet and easy-to-understand international words. We paid the owner of the shabby 2-person bedroom + shower ahead. Cash, without receipt(!).
    We even did not think about it.
    Next morning the breakfast was served by somebody else.She stated (using paper to draw two beds and communicate with us) that we had to pay AGAIN.
    She made clear that we only had paid for ONE bed.
    Although we had made this price deal for ONE room with the owner himself the previous day,she persisted that he meant ONE bed.

    Whatever.The boss was not there for further discussion.
    We are almost sure that this price game was created at night. We felt treated as “the rich Europeans” who can pay more than the regular room rent.
    To be honest: the price was of simple campground level, but nevertheless we were cheated.
    Probable reason: we were European tourists, did not speak the local language, had no written receipt.

    Do we feel bad? Not really.
    Are these people scams?
    Yes!…But looking at their local standards of living I almost (!) can understand that we were cheated.
    If we can afford to bike around the world whenever it suits us (with all our respect Darren Alff) we must be aware of scams.
    Sometimes the difference between poverty in some countries and our western incomeis só wide that I can understand the local, (limited) way of “earning money”.

    Peter de Visser
    Oostvoorne, The Netherlands

  5. Brian L. says:

    Wonderful, well-written article with lots of helpful info! You obviously put a lot of time & effort into writing it. Getting your experienced insights is really great. Thanks.

  6. Bruce Braley says:

    In Lima, Peru, my son and I were walking down an uncrowded sidewalk next to some multi-story apartments. Suddenly, we were splattered with mustard and a couple came up behind us pointing at the apartments above and apologizing for their rude countrymen who had squirted the mustard on us. They had a handkerchief and were attempting to wipe the mustard off our clothes. We were both confused, because it happened so suddenly, but my son saw one of them lift my wallet from my back pocket as he was wiping me down. He yelled at them, but just then, a taxi sped up to us and the pair jumped in and were off before I even knew I’d been robbed.

    • Ami Kadar says:

      Exactly the same happened to me in Antigua, Guatemala. I felt something moist on the back of my leg and instinctively started to turn around when someone pointed it out. Luckily, the language school I attended had warned us about the scam and I caught myself and instead said ” hey, I know what you are doing.” When he realized I had caught on, he quickly disappeared down a side-street.
      Another day I was observing an Easter procession when I felt someone sort of rubbing up against me ( like you might do in a crowded situation ) . I looked and saw this woman right at my elbow with a grin on her face. Then she disappeared from my side. Later that evening when I got home, I noticed that the outer layer of my cloth handbag had been torn/ cut open. Luckily, she she couldn’t get through the inner lining. Or, maybe that’s when I felt something and turned to her.

  7. P Hayden says:

    I bought some items in Paris at a street vendor area. He had an electronic credit card machine, but the invoice was entered on an adding machine with a tape. He typed in an extra 200 but turned the print key off when he entered it, then turned the print back on when he totaled it. So the total exceeded the numbers. When I pointed it out, he was soooo apologetic and said the adding machine was broken.

    But the point of the story is not the scam. It’s that I knew, instinctively, that something was wrong. He fiddled a little too much with the machine, the machine technology was different from everything else, and he was so careful to hand me the receipt face up in a way that was too deliberate. I can’t say what made me add the numbers but it was obvious what he had done, even if no one fact was incriminating. The sum of the parts did not fit.

  8. andy dann says:

    fell victim to the red light robbery at lights in south of france. popped the boot and made off with a bag containing valuable camera gear. make sure you lock doors etc and keep valuable gear close.

    a friend also got robbed when a group of us arrived at a hotel after midnight when our flight was delayed. they followed us into reception after the door had been unlocked by hotel staff to let us in. the hotel staff thought the thieves were part of our group, so let them in too. while we were distracted checking in, filling forms etc the thieves left with a bag containing money , passport and cameras. as you said need to be aware of people around in those circumstances

  9. Anthony says:

    In Athens inside the custom section … While my luggage is being inspected , a custom inspector picked my pocket camera out of my luggage and never say any .. I never saw my camera again . I did complained , but no one seems to speaks English . I felt I was scammed by group of inspectors .

  10. lauriebee says:

    Thanks for the great article!
    Our last night in Italy 4 years ago in a “spa” town west of Florence…the town catered to busloads of mostly German tourists who had hotel dining included with their spa trip. As a result, there were very few open restaurants to eat at past 6 oclock (strange for Italy I agree…) After walking the town for a few hours we eventually found one, filled with equally confused travellers like us. At the end of a lackluster meal (in which I made up for the bad food by drinking more than my share of local wine) the waiter brought us a handwritten bill. I asked him if I could keep the bill as a souvenir, pleading the case of foolish tipsy tourist revelling in the quaintness of the handwritten italian bill(!) but he flatly refused and walked it over to the cashier where payment was to occur. At the cash as I tried to take a photo of the bill the cashier started yelling at me and ripped it up (but only after I had seen the total). She then quickly entered a lesser amount into their cash register. I immediately smelled a scam perpetrated by these two who would be sharing the difference between the two totals. We quickly paid the bill, walked through the restaurant informing all the other diners, and stood on the street outside the door for a while loudly discouraging other drifters from eating there….Classic.
    We’re heading back to go biking in Italy in a few weeks…with eyes wide open.

  11. Trifecta says:

    I just got robbed outside of Paris by a group of gypsies where one guy jumped out. I swerved to avoid him and hit the side barrier and almost got hit by a car from the rear. They then proceeded to “help” me fix the pannier rack on my bike. It wasn’t until I got to our hostel that I realized that they lifted my two cell phones. Super bummer. My French friend just said that as soon as gypsies gather near you start punching and they’ll get the clue (they’re pretty short). I saw a Frenchman almost club a gypsy to death when she tried to rob a client of his at Sac de Coeur. I don’t advocate violence, but when in Rome…

  12. John Power says:

    I have had a few incidents down through the years,one where my Camera and spare Glasses were robbed in Rome.It was in 2002 6 months after a Gall Bladder Operation and still feeling the effects of it for a week into the Holiday. I left Ireland with a very sore right side of my Stomach,I said I was not going to chuck the Holiday but go anyway.I had visited the Mouth of truth stone(Boca veritas) in the Cloister at the front of that Church that featured in the film Roman Holiday ( Vacanzia en Roma) with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. I went over to the side of the Tiber under the shade of trees to give my side a rest and shelter from the Heat.

    Then a Scooter stopped a few metres away with two Guys on it,one got off and approached and asked for directions.I thought this strange as they were Italians. I explained I was a foreigner and I thought the place he was looking for was in a certain direction but not sure. HE said which direction and moved away a few metres. I followed him and pointed and forgot about the Camera Bag beside the Tree. I turned to go back to where the bag was and it was gone,and the Scooter rider was gone too. So I had no choice but to go after the other fellow on foot who by this time had a good start. He saw me and took off at a fast speed,but the pain in my side forced me to stop. I had lost a Black Nikon FM2 with a short Zoom plus a close up micro Nikkor Lens and a Ring Flash plus my spare clear Lens Glasses.

    I was resigned to the fact that this happens sometimes in Italy,it was probably best I did not catch him up I might get Stabbed. But I really missed those clear Glasses for the whole of my trip as I only had the Prescription Sunglasses for use outside as well as inside andit was weird using them inside very dark.

    I was in Bordeaux France in 2003 on Holidays and I brought my Oil Paints along with me and was using a Mabef Pochade Box Easel which can hold a Canvas Pannel up to 14 inches by I think 8 or 9 inches and Tubes of Paints Pallet and accoutrements and can close down with two wet board Paintings inside. I sat by the Gironde and painted The Cathedrale St Andre and Pont Pierre and the City,I talked to two people who lived close by a young woman and man. They went away then after ten minutes a young teenager of about 15 years stopped by. He came over near me and looked then kept moving around all the time in a gradual circle around me. This went on for a long time and he gave a little smile. I noticed he was a Romany Gypsie and I was getting suspicious he just was not going away but kept on edging around. I eventually got fed up and roared at him,clear off there is nothing worth robbing here only some Paints and a Paint Box. I got up and chased him away and he stared laughing running off up the road.

    I stayed about ten minutes more to finish the picture and clean up the Pallet and was gone.

    There are lots of Romany Gypsies now in Dublin getting up to all kinds of scams against Tourists. They usually surround the Tourists and rob them or watch them in the GPO post office in O’Connel Street paying Postage or Bills by Credit Card and try to look at the Pin Numbers and rob them afterwards of the Cards, this has happened lately. A few years ago in Talbot Street Dublin

    I seen two foreign Women either German or Scandinavian holding on to two Gypsie women and fighting with them,some Local women came to their aid and they got their possesions back. They let the Gypsies go because they were violent and they ran across the road laughing their heads off.

    Same thing in Saint Stephens green,lots of people lying on the grass in the hot sun. Lots of young Italian,french,spanish,german students,over in Ireland to learn English. Young Romany Gypsies would come in gangs of twelve and surround a likely Target on the Grass asleep and rob them of their Wallets.The young foreign students were used to this and always chased them away.

  13. MARK BROWN says:

    Whilst travelling through Spain we stopped at a roadside rest area that had toilets only.
    We were approached by a car driver with a map asking for directions.
    During the conversation he positioned himself whilst turning me away from my vehicle. During this time another person who was not initially visible in the vehicle attempted to enter my vehicle. Luckily I spotted this attempted theft from my vehicle and prevented what could have been a significant loss of money and documents. The person/pesons’ pretended to be lost and in need of help but more importantly initially there was only one!

  14. Alice says:

    Piasters Currency Scam (Egypt):

    Having you pay for an item such that you will be owed fifty pounds change. You are then given a note, fifty piasters, which is equal a fraction of a pound – one half. You won’t expect that, if you have only seen coins for portions of notes – fifty cents, fifty pence, fifty pesos etc.

    Forty Camels Scam (Middle East):

    (Items) when requesting a small item, you will be brought far more than you asked for. If you order two coffees in a hotel, you will be brought two full pots of coffee in elaborate carafes on huge trays with many cups, saucers and silverware, heated milk, and sugar bowls, with a herd of people coming in and out as though they are going to a lot of trouble, all looking for tips. Forty camels will be bringing rugs for you to sit on that had to cross the desert at great peril, fine incense brought from Morocco, expensive silks to shield your eyes against the approaching sandstorm, a troop of belly dancers and musicians to play lutes for your entertainment while you drink your coffee, and so on.

    (Services) When you ask for a small service, you will receive the Forty Camels Red Flag which consists of a helpful man saying “no problem” with a grin. But soon, a host of problems and chaos will arise over the request. Before you know it, a herd of people and their camels (all forty of them) will come by your door, attempting to fulfill your request but somehow getting it wrong, or finding, for example, if you requested a lamp that it can’t be plugged in because the plug is broken and portion of the wall needs to be knocked down, and rewiring done, but all this is again “no problem”. Once the rewiring is completed, it will turn out the lamp is the wrong voltage, and someone else will ride to Timbuktu to get a converter for it. By the time it is all said and done, you will feel you owe all forty of them tips “for their trouble”.

  15. Hart says:

    Be especially aware of loiterers before using an ATM. If one of them starts to follow you after your transaction, you are a target.

  16. JimM says:

    Two things: I’ve been approached in a Paris subway by someone trying to sell “spare” Metro tickets – I’ve ridden the Metro hundreds of times and didn’t fall for it – the tickets were used.
    Also for travelers to the US, although it may work in your country, never hand money to an American cop for any reason – that’s a fast pass to jail for attempted bribery. Chicago may be the exception to that rule.

  17. Herman says:

    In Thailand we had a taxi driver drive us for almost 80 minutes in the wrong direction because he “misheard” our destination and claimed not to speak English. Our destination was one of the most common places to go in Bangkok and we read that the drive should be 45-60 minutes so we did not suspect anything for quite a while. Turns out it was roughly 25 minutes out from the airport and there were tons of signs pointing that way. The meter ran up to 3500 bhat and then he let us out for 1500 or so, but it should have cost less than 500. If you are planning to pay a taxi ahead of time, try to figure out what the destination is called in the native language and how long the drive should take, etc.

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