The top 7 travel scams around the world

There so many great things about travelling the world; seeing new things, meeting new people, and learning about new cultures. One of the downsides of travel though can be the risk of getting scammed by opportunistic criminals on the hunt for holiday-makers. The best way to avoid getting scammed is to be informed, so take a look at the top seven scams around the world and reduce your chances of getting tricked.

1. Dodgy taxis 

  • Taxi drivers are very clued up on who’s a local and who’s just there on holiday and sometimes they’ll take advantage of this. Dodgy drivers have been known to take passengers on the ‘scenic route’, ringing up a huge fare in the process. On top of this many travellers have reported drivers who said they were taking them on short cuts only to drive them around for an extra 20 minutes or though.

How to avoid: If you have a smartphone bring the route up on your phone so you can track where you are going and always make sure you ride with an official company and driver. Depending on where you are, you might want to consider negotiating the fare before you even get in the car.

2. Bogus police officers

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  • There have been reported cases of scammers dressing up as police officers and working  in teams to take money from travellers. First a ‘bystander’ will come up to you and ask you to watch their bag for them while they go to the bathroom. Once they have left the fake officers will approach you and demand to search your bags and the one left behind by the bystander. They will find something illegal in the bag and demand you pay an on-the-spot fine to avoid any further trouble.

How to avoid: Never offer or accept to watch someone else’s bags. There’s no telling what’s inside or what game they might be playing.

3. Phoney petitions: 

  • You’ll find this scam is most countries around the world. Someone will reel you in asking that you sign their petition. Once you’ve signed, they quickly demand that you pay a cash donation too – many of them do this loudly and in a public place so you feel pressured into handing over your dollars.

How to avoid: Never agree to sing anything!

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4. Counterfeit money: 

  • Counterfeit money is rife throughout the world and unfortunately it often ends up in the hands of travellers. Cashiers have been known to give fake money to tourists as they are often too unfamiliar with the local currency to know the difference between fakes and the real deal. In addition to this, many tourists are unknowingly short-changed at the till as shop owners try to rush them out the door before they realise.

How to avoid: Make sure you take the time to familiarise yourself with the look and feel of the local currency when you arrive, and if unsure, always count your change in front of the cashier.

5. Creative pickpocket and distraction muggings (gold ring scam)

  • When you’re in a new place, it is easy to be distracted by different local experiences. Muggers typically try to distract you while they rob you. For instance, they will approach you and ask if a gold ring is yours. When the tourist picks it up to have a look someone else will step in and demand money for the gift.
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How to avoid: Walk away from seemingly harmless distractions and keep track of your belongings.

6. Injured beggars or baby toss

  • Indeed some injuries are real but many beggars will fake their injury to get better donations. Or, some gypsies will actually toss their child (really a doll) into your arms. In the confusion, they will grab your valuables.

How to avoid: If you want to give to beggars, instead give them food not money.

7. Airport security confusion 

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  • As you go through security, there is usually lots of commotion and sometimes the scammers work in pairs to distract you from your belongings. In the process, they steal your laptop, wallet and valuables from the conveyor belt.

How to avoid: Be sure to keep an eye on your belongings until you walk through security and keep an eye on them after they go through the machine.

Have you ever been scammed on holiday? How do you stay safe when travelling?