Unfortunately, no place in the world is without its scammers. Whether you’re in the First World or the Third World, you need to be on your guard—especially around bigger cities and tourist attractions. The following are some of the craftiest schemes out there. You may wonder how anybody could be so devious. Or how any tourist could possibly fall for them. But people do. Take this as your warning…
- The Fake Money Problem
A man dressed in official-looking police clothing approaches you, explains that fake notes are in circulation, and demands to see your wallet. After the inspection, you’ll find that your wallet is missing some contents. This trick is common in Mexico City, Bogotá, Bucharest, and Bangkok.
- The Fake Ticket
As you’re standing in line for tickets, you’re approached by an official-looking staff member who offers you a ticket at a slightly higher price so you may skip the line. The ticket turns out to be a fake. Common in Paris and London.
- The “Free” Massage
You’re lying on the beach when a man comes over offering you a massage. If you refuse, he’ll try to give you a sample “free” massage, then hang around until you pay him (highly) for his service. Watch out for this one in Barbados and The Bahamas.
- The Broken Camera
A friendly couple or group asks you to take a photo of them. You find the camera doesn’t work and return it to them. As you hand it over, they drop it, and it smashes on the ground. Now they hold you responsible (even though the camera was broken in the first place). This trick is practiced the world over.
- The Not-So-Free Peanuts
When you’re sitting at a table in Río de Janeiro, a man comes over and pours out what you assume are free peanuts. As soon as you take one, he’ll demand payment.
- The Map Seller
A guy approaches you to sell you a map of the local area. While he’s showing you the map, his accomplice empties your pockets. Common throughout Europe.
- The Stain Remover
As you’re going about your business, a passer-by “accidentally” spills something on your jacket (ketchup or a drink, for example). They then assist you by removing the jacket and attempting to clean it—while they also clean out whatever’s in your pockets. Practiced in Río de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.
- The Abandoned Baby
In Rome, a woman walks up to you and throws her baby (usually a doll) into your arms. While you’re in shock, her accomplices pickpocket you or get away with your bag.
- The Dropped (And Swapped) Change
When your shop assistant, taxi driver, or waiter is counting out your change, he or she accidentally drops it and swaps in smaller coins or notes instead. Common throughout Asia.
- The Abandoned Wallet
You see a wallet on the ground that looks as though it has been stolen and emptied. You feel for your own wallet to check that it’s safe. Now the onlooking crook knows where to reach when they pickpocket you a little farther down the street. Common in Rome and Ukraine.
- The Credit Card Problem
You’re in bed (probably sleeping) when a scammer calls your hotel room pretending to be from the front desk. They say there’s a problem with your credit card and ask you to confirm all the details of the card. They do this late at night when you’re less likely to go downstairs to sort it out in person. This is one to watch for all over the world.