Scammers and Thieves on Tourists

I have now been to a few places around the world and one thing is very clear, there will always be greedy, selfish and sad people who will always take advantage of rookie vulnerable tourists who don’t know how to defend or prevent scams from happening. I admit I have been a victim of some of these scams whilst others I have successfully prevented their extortion. Unfortunately there are plenty scammers around even on the richest areas around the world, preying on tourists.  These are lists of scams I have witnessed and how to potentially avoid them.

Friendship Bracelets (Milan/ Italy)

Most recently experienced around Duonmo and Sforza Castle in Milan. A person or group selling pieces of string (friendship bracelets) would approach you and forcibly (or try to) tie a bracelet around your wrist, they will probably tie a strong undoable knot so you wont be able to remove it without damaging the string. So after being all friendly they will then ask for some money, some even asking for 10 euros (for a piece of string). Obviously many will oppose, but then they will get very aggressive as they cannot remove the bracelet without cutting it, there are also reports of a huge group of them confronting a tourist who wouldn’t want to pay up. Obviously a hesitant tourist would pay up at that point even if it was a note, so if you see these guys the best thing is to never accept these bracelets and never give them your wrist even if they say just to try.

Taxi Ride (Manila/ Philippines)

Not just for tourists but for locals as well, taxi drivers in Philippines (like many others around the world) love to get every penny they can squeeze out of each customer. First stunt taxi drivers like to do is contract a fee (much higher) rather than running their meter, this is not really a scam but an upfront extortion, if you don’t want to accept and want to run the meter the taxi driver will just reject you and drive off. Another trick taxis do is to purposely forget to turn on their meter, sometimes for the whole trip or at times in the middle, this enables them to give or add their own negotiated price in which if you are a tourist would not know a fair rate. Further more an illegal act but some taxi drivers hack their meter to make the rate run at a faster higher rate, this obviously is effective if you are new to the country and don’t know the norm. A more simpler scam is that the driver would take a much longer route rather than the quickest and most convenient, clearly to get a higher fare.

All that I have mentioned above happen in a huge scale, but please note there are many law abiding taxi drivers that do their job in the correct way, so don’t take every taxi driver as a scammer. A safer option to taxis in Philippines is to use ‘Uber’ or ‘Grabtaxi’ which are contracted by the app itself, taxis taken from malls and hotels are also safe as they are monitored by the hotels/ malls. Taxis taken elsewhere are risky. Further more these taxi scams also happen around many different countries usually 3rd worlds but even richer ones as well.

Petition Scamming Thieves ( France/Paris)

This scam is something I always see around the Eiffel tower area every time I visit Paris. Usually a bunch women complete with official attire (high visibility) they will forcibly ask you to sign a petition with a large disabled logo on the top left. Usually, email, name date of birth and other information. Now firstly you would be very silly to sign this petition as who knows what they could do with the information given and the other thing is that signing the petition is only a distraction for the other lady behind or beside you to pick pocket whatever they can get hold of that’s why there is usually a group of them. To prevent this, as soon as you see some ladies with petitions, question them whilst monitoring all your belongings, make sure none of them are behind you or very close to you. After confirming your suspicion of a scam or thieves, ignore them and leave as soon as possible don’t entertain them even if they are the friendly

Mime Photo Opportunity (London/ United Kingdom)

This particular person, I believe is a lone scammer but has been featured in the BBC news before, I’m not sure if he is still around but I have heard many affected by him. However the reason me mentioning this scenario is because there may be many like this. Around Big Ben and London Eye where tourist are constantly taking photos, this mime will simply embrace you around your shoulders for a photo shoot even if you didn’t ask for it. After the photo has been taken he will then demand for some money (payment for the photo) in which even if you say no he will make it out that you have to give money. As a tourists in a carefree good mood, many will just give money some even giving notes. This person I’m on about may have gone but the reason im mentioning this scenario is because there may be many like this.

Pickpockets (Barcelona/ Spain)

Probably the city with largest reputation for theft (pickpockets) around Europe with even locals admitting to the problem. Visiting the Catalan capital twice, I do agree there is huge problem with theft, as you can easily identify pickpockets in action along trains and crowded touristic areas. They are very confident and are not afraid if someone sees them, they just move on to another target very calmly with no sense of being shaken. Pickpockets are everywhere around the world but it is definitely on another level in Barcelona, however this can easily be prevented by being a little careful and mindful of you’re and companions belonging, avoid putting phones and wallets in back pockets as this is a huge target. I haven’t really experienced or witnessed any thieves being aggressive when caught, as they usually work within crowded areas.

Counterfeits (Hong Kong, Shenzhen/ Hong Kong, China) 

Maybe this is no real big surprise and many do know some products are fake. There are now increasing amounts of people who now knowingly buy counterfeits as either a souvenir or even as a cheaper product. Honestly I don’t know the legality of purchasing a fake and also not knowledgeable in identifying a fake product. However it seems to be accepted in Hong Kong with many market stalls openly selling these products.

These are just some of the Scams I’ve experienced, there’s definitely many more around, so its important to keep vigilant at all times.