When you find yourself in a new, unknown place, it's easy for you to fall for a scam that you would never have considered at home. Here are some of the most common fraud cases when traveling ̵
Whether you're visiting a city for the first time or in another country using a different currency, disrupting your normal routines and expectations will make you an easy target when traveling. Let's take a look at the most common scams that unscrupulous locals use on tourists.
Taxi fraud has a long (and lucrative) tradition. They are among the most common scams and you can adjust to them immediately after your arrival. There are a few different categories.
The easiest way is if your taxi driver overburdens you. It may give you a flat rate well above the usual rate, use a confusing meter that is increasing too fast, or take a bypass route.
Another way to overload taxis is to include extras such as tollbooth charges or airport pickup fees. And they are charged twice: once automatically on the meter and once at the end of your journey.
Especially in Asia, taxi drivers can tell you that your hotel, a tourist attraction, a shop or a restaurant is closed permanently or for lunch / siesta / wednesday. But the good news is that he has a friend who rents rooms / knows an alternative and likes to take you there.
Of course your hotel is not really closed – it will only overwhelm you, take you along On a tour of the city where you are pressured to buy things and then take a kickback from any company you visit ,
How to Avoid Tax Fraud
Tax fraud is easily avoided with two simple rules:
- Use only licensed taxis from an official taxi rank or from someone you trust. Do not pick up taxis from the street or, even worse, get into an unlicensed taxi. If you do, you risk being cheated. Instead, get a taxi from an official taxi rank or ask the concierge / waiter to call you for one.
- Do you know how much the journey that you undertake should cost. Ask your concierge or waiter about the fee for your trip or check them online. In this way, you can request that you be fired when the driver tries to load more, or the counter rises suspiciously fast. You can also use Google Maps to make sure you find the most direct route to your destination.
- Avoid taxis completely. Services like Uber, Lyft, and Grab are available in much of the world, and since you pay with a credit card, it's harder to be cheated.
Fake Tickets and Sketchy Lists
The guy who sells you cheap Hamilton tickets on Craigslist because he can not go at short notice? He's lying. This super budget apartment in a great location? Also a lie.
Fake tickets to events and attractions (or real tickets sold at twice the price) are another frequent victim of fraud. If you are planning to visit the Louvre and someone offers discounted tickets for 10 € on the street, it is tempting to buy them. However, if you arrive at the Louvre you will find that these are fake tickets and you save 10 € less the cost of the real tickets. Or someone offers you £ 10 discounted tickets to the British Museum, but when you get there, you'll find that they're free.
Airbnb has also encouraged people to rent other accommodation than hotel rooms. Two apartment advertisements that I personally came across are:
- Craigslist listings that do not exist. The cheater asks for a deposit via wire transfer or Western Union and never replies. When you arrive in the building, everyone is confused. This happened to my stepmother in New York.
- The owner wants to "cut" Airbnb. Once you have booked, the "owner" will contact you by direct mail and say that she has a dispute with Airbnb and wants to "switch it off". She asks you to make a down payment through another website and disappears.
Avoid fake tickets and confusing lists.
Buy tickets for events only through official sources such as the website, ticket office, or hotel concierge. Never buy "discount" tickets from people on the street.
Book your accommodation only through trusted sources that enjoy some protection, such as the hotel's website, Airbnb or Hotels.com.
Currency Trap  Scammers want your money. If they can get you to give it to them, they will. And if you're unfamiliar with the currency you use, it's even easier to be fooled.
Fake banknotes are a problem everywhere. So pay attention to the change that you receive, especially if you pay with a large bill. If you are unfamiliar with the currency, you will probably first notice that you have received fake cash when you try to spend it.
The opposite is when you pay with a big bill and then be accused of using money counterfeit money. You may even turn it off for a fake note if you are not looking. In that case, they insist that they must legally confiscate the counterfeit bill – and you still owe him money.
If you use a money exchange on the street, you can easily exchange your real dollars for fake ones.
You must be extra careful when using a map abroad. Tourists are an easy target for card skimmers as they usually have money. If the skimmer waits a few days before trying your card, most likely you have left the country and can not take any legal action. My brother (he is Irish, but lives in Alabama) was flown over in a bar at JFK airport when he flew home for Christmas.
Avoiding Currency Traps
Familiarize yourself with the local currency upon arrival. Get a picture of what it looks like, what denominations exist, and so on. You will never feel as comfortable as a local, but at least you know what the person on the front of each bill looks like.
Check your change carefully. Make sure it's the right amount and the banknotes are genuine.
Take care when handing over money or your bank card. This will not necessarily stop an experienced cheater, but if he sees you watching him closely, the likelihood of trying something is much lower. There will be another brand shortly.
When withdrawing money or exchanging money, you do so only at a bank or other official currency exchange. The ATM of a bank is probably less fragmented than one in a local bar.
Blaming is technically not a fraud but an unpleasant situation. Someone will come to you in the street and try to give you something, like a friendship bracelet, rosary beads or Buddhist charms – and these can be quite powerful. After you have agreed, they insist on the payment. If you refuse, they will become loud, aggressive or persistent and hope you pay them off to prevent a scene. Whatever you pay, it will be far more than the turnaround was worth.
This happened to me a few times. Once a monk (or rather a monk dressed as a monk) cast a spell around my neck and insisted that I pay him for it. On another occasion, I was in a train and there was a small packet of disposable towels in each seat. I assumed it was an ad campaign, but a few minutes later a woman demanded that anyone who had taken the tissues pay for it.
Some businesses run a similar scam. The staff offers a cup of tea or a drink while browsing. If you try to leave without buying anything, they accuse you of abusing their hospitality and trying to convict you to buy it.
How to avoid feelings of guilt
Do not accept anything that is not available to anyone, especially on the street.
If someone seems to give you something for free, but insists that you pay for it, return it politely. When they start making a scene, ignore them. Most locals are familiar with the scam and assume that you are right.
Damaged Rental Vehicles
If you rent a car, a motorcycle, a jet ski, or anything else abroad, an imaginary damage is a scam that you must watch out for. The following happens.
You rent the vehicle and make your way to happiness. If you return it, the landlord points out scratches, scratches, dents or imaginary damage and insists that you caused it. The repair costs are of course immense.
How To Avoid Lease Damage
To avoid this fraud, film a video of every vehicle you rent from all sides. If there are scratches, dents or bumps, call them in the video. If you can, you have the landlord with you. In this way you can prove at the return of the vehicle that the damage was at the time of renting.
When renting a vehicle, never leave your passport or identity card as collateral. You have the full right to request and copy this information. However, if you have the option to either pay a large deposit or leave your passport, you will need to pay the deposit. If you have your passport, you can leave your country hostage until you pay.
While pickpockets are upright thieves and not cheaters. The two overlap when a fraud is used to distract you, so someone can steal your bag. For example:
- Someone plays Three-Card-Monte or the Shell game while a pickpocket deals with the crowd.
- A street artist or busker plays as a pickpocket (possibly independent) works the crowd.
- Someone spills their drink on you. While she pats you and apologizes profusely, she also steals your bag.
- A well-dressed tourist asks for directions. While you help, he rummages in your pocket.
- Someone asks you to sign a petition. Meanwhile, your wallet is stolen.
- They use an ATM and a local offer to help. It disappears together with your money.
How to Avoid Pickpockets
Pickpockets are difficult to avoid when approaching you. Be especially careful when someone enters your personal area. The man who asks you for directions may be real or take your wallet with you. If someone spills something on you, step back and do not be touched. Maybe they are just awkward, and you can clean it up themselves – or it was a distraction to wipe your paperback.
Pay attention to how much cash you keep in your wallet and where you store it. It is better to use a money belt. Also make sure you leave a replacement bank card in your hotel room. This will still give you access to cash if your wallet is stolen.
This might surprise you, but stalls on street markets are not official Nike retailers. This friendly gentleman does not sell any real ray-bans (75% off) from a carpet on the roadside. Almost all (let's face it – it's all ) branded products that are sold on street markets are imitations. If they are real, they are stolen.
Another market scam entices you with handmade rugs, high-quality silks, local goods, and so on. They inspect them and find that they are indeed well done. You buy one and it's taken back to pack it for your flight home. Upon your return, you bought a cheap polyester rug or other counterfeit product. The original article was exchanged when it was sent for packaging.
How to avoid counterfeit goods
Do not buy branded products on a street market. No, this is not a cheap Rolex for sale. No, these are not Nikes – the logo points in the wrong direction. If a shop looks too good to be true, it is probably.
If you buy something original, handmade, or local, do not let it pack so that you can not inspect it. Insist that you can do it yourself. In this way they can not exchange the product for a counterfeit. If you can not wrap it yourself, do not buy it.
Dealing with fraud is an unfortunate part of traveling. In Europe or Asia, you will almost certainly find someone who is trying to exploit you. However, with a little prior knowledge and common sense, you are fine. Make it clear that you know what they are up to and look for a simpler brand.