Avoiding Traveller Scams around the World



No matter where you’re travelling there will always be the morally questionable types, eager to take advantage. There are a variety of scammer horror stories from every corner of the world. Some are as simple as forcing you to pay for an unwanted shoe shine, while others are more elaborate and could leave you stranded with no money, no luggage, and crucially - no passport.

Crowded cities and bustling streets are prime real estate for thieves and it pays to constantly be aware of your environment. A savvy traveller can’t afford to look at the world through rose coloured glasses. A stumbling block for many is a lack of understanding about local cultures. Often, we allow these scammers to take us for a ride out of fear of being disrespectful to the customs and traditions of the locals.

It’s quite easy to educate yourself about the region you will be in. Different countries have favoured scamming methods. In Europe you may find friendly looking street games where a small crowd gathers for a show. Often this crowd will be made up of a team of scammers, pickpocketing you while you watch the game unfold. Another trick that is used all over the world is a person approaching you and offering to take your picture. Two things can happen here, either he demands a fee for his services or he steals your camera - or maybe you get lucky and he’s just a really nice guy!

Across Asia you will have to contend with the ‘drop and swap’ which can occur when you pay for something and your change is ‘accidentally’ dropped on the ground in an attempt to confuse. Often when the change is picked up, the amount will be considerably less. You may encounter the ‘helpful local’ who will warn you of pickpockets in the area. Upon hearing this, most people’s hands will instinctively move to wherever their wallet or valuables are and the local, and his unseen accomplices, will take note of this and steal from you further down the street.

Scammers will often work in teams. If you’re travelling with family or friends you need to watch each other’s back. If travelling alone, remain constantly vigilant. Most of these nasty tricks occur in busy, congested areas, though they do still happen off the beaten track. It’s important to enjoy your travels, but remain aware of the dangers that can derail what should be a life-changing trip across different lands.