Travel Scams Around the Globe

Scams seem to have just become another part of travel. I’m sure everyone has a great story of that time they were scammed here or that time that man ripped you off there.

No matter how long you have been traveling or how many countries you have traveled to, I don’t believe you are ever truly safe from being taken advantage of. I love a good scam story, so I asked travel bloggers from around the globe to share their best one!

Travel Scams Around the Globe

DJ from Dream Euro Trip got scammed in Belgrade

We’ve been taking taxis around the Serbian capital during our trip there but unfortunately, on our last night at 4 AM, we were victims of the taxi scam in Belgrade. Like in other cities where taxi scams are omnipresent, it’s always about taking the wrong taxi. We took the illegal one where the taxi meter is running by the hundreds even if we didn’t even get farther than half a kilometer. We noticed it and decided to get out of the taxi when it stopped at a stoplight. We were running away from the taxi when one of my friends fell down hard on the road because the taxi driver ran after us and pushed her. He then ran away and my friend got up and had bruises all over her feet and arms. It was a hot mess.

travel scams around the globe in Belgrade

Claudia Tavani from My Adventures Across the World  was scammed in Cuba

In Cuba, people celebrate their birthdays every day, or so it seems. Either that or their father dies every day. It is actually very common to meet persons in Cuba who go around claiming things such as “today it is my birthday” or “my dad has just passed away.” And it is oh so sad (I am being sarcastic!) that they never have a friend to celebrate with, or a relative to mourn together. This is a common scam technique that should make any tourist run away. The aim of this scam is to make the tourist feel such pity that he will eventually offer a drink, a meal or even money to the birthday boy or the mourning man – obviously at a place of his choosing, where he is likely to get a commission for bringing in customers. The best thing to do when hearing the words “today it is my birthday” is to just walk away, as fast as possible.

Joanna from The World In My Pocket got scammed in Pushkar

When you travel to Pushkar, India, pay attention to the fake priests. Once you enter one of the ghats, a man will usually greet you and tell you to take your shoes off. Then he will grab your hand and take you down to the lake, without you being able to protest, he will be very persuasive. Once at the lake, he will start saying something in Hindi, he will paint a red and orange dot on your forehead and tie a string on your hand. Then he will ask you to repeat some words after him. At the end, he will ask for money. The problem is that it is just the two of you there and you can’t just walk away.

He will start negotiating, “one hundred for your mother, one hundred for your father, one hundred for your sister” and so on.

The best thing to do is to say a firm no when they try to approach you, on top of the ghat.

Scammed in India

Elena from Travelability Blog got scammed in Prague

This is not exactly a scam, but something definitely worth knowing to avoid an unpleasant surprise. Czech Republic still has not transferred to Euro, so you would need to exchange your money in your first hours in Prague. And if you just go to a random exchange boot, even if the rates advertised outside look good, I bet you would be disappointed with the amount in Czech Korunas you would get. Almost all offices in Prague either charge a solid commission for every transaction or offer the good rate only for the amounts above $1,000 (and that would be the rates advertised in large font outside). To avoid losing money, you need to know one of several “secret” exchange spots that actually give fair rates. The one which is the easiest to find is located in the very center of Prague Old Town, at the corner of Kaprova and Maiselova streets, just few meters away from Staromestska Square. Or you can just withdraw cash from an ATM, if you bank is reasonable with commissions.

Scammed in Prague

Carole from Travels with Carole got scammed in Gibraltar

When we arrived in Gibraltar, we had only a few hours to do the sights.  I’d heard there was a taxi tour up to the top of the rock to see the famous apes.  After driving around for a while and being unable to find any staging area with taxis, I stopped in a hotel to ask for directions.  Instead, the nice lady at the desk offered to call a taxi for me.  We parked our car, hopped in, and discovered the fee was way more than it should be.  Too late.  We wound up being charged about three times what I had expected.  But as scams go, this one was mild.  We had a wonderful time, got some great photos, and regret only being taken advantage of.

Elena from Travelability got scammed in Bangkok

In Thailand scams are abundant but fortunately standard enough to recognize them easily if you are warned in advance. Here is one of the most popular ones: you are walking to see one of Bangkok’s main attractions, e.g. Grand Palace (Wat Phra Kaew). Some friendly Thai person speaking very good English approaches you and ask politely, where are you from and where are you going. When you answer, he warns you that the Palace is closed today for a special royal event (such bad luck!). After you show your disappointment, he offers you a tour to other great temples on his tuk-tuk very cheaply. Then he either charges your several times the normal price for a ride or takes you to some affiliated shops or tour agencies that pay him commissions. And needless to say – the Grand Palace is probably opened to public on this day as usual! If a Thai man approaches you first, without being asked for help and he speaks good English, he is probably a scammer.

travel scams around the globe

Jordan from Tiki Touring Kiwi got scammed in Cambodia

Scammed in Cambodia

Overlanding from Thailand to Cambodia, via Poipet is not the most fun border crossing. My first attempt I got dropped off 500 meters from the border, taken to a room and told that I needed a visa before getting to immigration. Not knowing any better, I agreed and paid $50 for a visa.   My second trip to Cambodia was to get a Russian visa. To apply for the visa, I required a Cambodian tourist visa valid for a minimum of 3 months. Arriving at the border, I walked straight to the scammers and asked if they could organize three months, rather than the regular one month. “No problem man, we can do that. It’s even on our sign up here.” The cash I handed over would mean a faster and cheaper visa than an official procedure. Thirty  minutes later, I joined up with the ‘middle man’ again with a brand new visa in my passport. Valid for one month! I was livid but in no mans land. I had no choice but to accept I was out scammed by the scammers.

Kylie from Between England and Iowa got scammed in Budapest

I came across a travel scam while in Budapest, it’s only small in comparison to some out there but still annoying none the less!  I was buying a tram ticket from the vending machine on the platform. I stood waiting for my change, coins were returned fine but the note dispenser whirred and nothing came out.  On closer inspection I discovered that the slot had been completely blocked up with a wet tissue.  I dug it out and managed to use 2 keys like a pair of tweezers to free the note, so actually managed to get it back with a bit of effort!  As I walked away, I saw a guy go over to the machine and put more tissue into the slot, he then got onto the same tram as me, got off at the next station and done exactly the same to the machine on that platform too!

travel scams around the globe

The World Pursuit (Hi!) got scammed in Morocco

After spending four weeks in the North African country we thought we had seen every scam in the book. I mean this country is known for the scams, so we thought we were prepared. However, we became very enchanted by the friendly people and beautiful surroundings in Tetouan leading us to let our guards down. Sure enough, an hour later we were arguing because we had just been scammed. We wanted to take the bus to the beautiful blue city of Chefchauoen but it wasn’t leaving for three hours. A local man in an orange vest appearing to look like a bus station worker quickly approached us telling us about a taxi that would take us for 50 dirham ($5). We couldn’t decide if he was just being nice or if we were being scammed. So we took a chance and followed him to this “taxi.” Five minutes later and we began giving each other the “I think we are getting scammed” look. The man knew it was a scam, we knew we were getting scammed, and the man knew we knew we were getting scammed. It was too late to get out of the ordeal. He brought us to a different bus station, mumbled some words in Arabic to the taxi drivers, and told us the driver refuses to take us. Our only option was the local bus (not recommended for foreigners). The man demanded 30 dirham ($3) and would not take us back to the closer and newer bus station that we had left 20 minutes prior. We were pissed off and just decided to pay him his money and get on the next bus outta there!

travel scams around the globe

It seems the general consensus is to always trust your gut! Do you have any interesting scam stories to share?

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