Travel scams from around the world


Most every traveler believes that they can’t be fooled. We’ve seen all the tricks before, and know how to protect ourselves. We’re savvy, and we’re not going to get scammed.

Unfortunately, the scammers have become just as savvy. Furthermore, with vulnerability to scams increasing with age, it’s best to know the scams so as not to get caught out.

Here are some of the most common:

  1. The Storage Locker. At a station, when trying to store your luggage in a locker, a stranger will take their things out of a locker at the same time, and kindly and spontaneously offer their key so you can use the locker for free. You’ll try the key and it will be a little stiff, and they’ll explain they’d found the key they gave you to be glitchy. They’ll then take it, and appear to try it, while covertly switching the fake key for the real one, and then show you that the key “works”. You’ll walk off, and then come back to find either your locker is empty.
  2. The Hotel Repairs. When getting a taxi or rickshaw, the driver will inform you that your hotel is overbooked or having repairs done, and will take you to an alternative hotel. This hotel will be in a dodgy area, and will cost an exorbitant amount if you check in. Sometimes, they’ll take you to a hotel they claim is yours but isn’t, charging a lot for the taxi ride, and taking you to a hotel they have a

    dodgy deal with.

  3. The Stolen Wallet. A wallet will be handed to you, or placed on your person. The supposed owner of that wallet will then arrive with friends, claiming you have taken their wallet, and demanding reimbursement for an imagined amount of money that was in the wallet. They will threaten you until you comply – try and get the police involved.
  4. The Lost Wallet. Similar to the stolen wallet, a wallet will be found on the floor by a nearby tourist, who suggests you share the found amount. They’ll then walk off. The supposed owner of the wallet will then arrive, demanding the full amount from you for having taken the money.
  5. The Friendship Bracelet. A man will come up to you, offering a free bracelet, and placing it on your wrist. As soon as you walk off, he will charge after you, claiming you stole the bracelet, and demanding payment.
  6. The Fake Front Desk Call. You’ll receive a call – usually in the middle of the night – asking for repetition of your card details. They’ll then take your details and run, banking on the idea that you won’t check with the front desk in the middle of the night.
  7. The Broken Camera. You will be approached and asked to take a photo for somebody. The camera will not work. They will then break the camera by dropping it, and claim you owe them a new camera. Often the whole group will intimidate you, and demand repayment, pickpocketing you as they rough you up.
  8. The Taxi Rip-Off. The taxi will take you somewhere, and will then cost three times as much as it should cost. The best thing to do is to threaten to call the police, telling the driver you know about the scam.
  9. The Beggar. A beggar will beg you for small change. You may or may not give some. A thief will be waiting close by, and will watch where you get your wallet from, so he too can rob you.
  10. The Wrong Change. A cashier will hand back the wrong change, or take a long time counting it out. They’ll hope that you won’t notice, or won’t care.

Be safe out there, and remember that the place where pickpockets are most on look out are at “Beware of Pickpockets” signs. We automatically feel for our wallet, and show them where it is. No-one is immune to theft, and the best thing to do is to make yourself knowledgeable about the threats there are, and try and prepare against them.

See our video for a thief showing the best ways to avoid being mugged.