There is a popular saying. Fish where the fish are. When you are on holiday you will most likely be in an area where all others tourists are. Unfortunately this will also be the area where there will be some people who would like to take your money. Here are 10 scams I have come across in my travels that might make your holiday safer.
Where are you from
God how I have begun to dislike those 4 words. To me, it means I want your money. I have heard it everywhere. From Bankok to Barcelona. Havana to Tirana. Why do so many people what to know where I am from?
Basically, this is the opening shot of a strategy to get you to stop and a conversation can begin to make your wallet lighter. I am not saying everytime I have been asked where I am from it meant this. Just 99.99% of the time. Once you stop the percentages of the person hustling you get better. The problem is no one wants to be rude and just ignore someone. They know this. My strategy these days is to not stop walking but say where I am from but I need to get somewhere and goodbye. Just think of it. Does a complete stranger really want to know where are you from? In a bar of restaurant maybe yes. In a street, I don’t think so.
Bulgarian state railways
If you don’t want it don’t touch it
When I was in Gran Canaria I used to visit Maspalomas beach. There is a nice footpath walk down to the main beach. Each days 1,000s of people pass this way on their way to the beach. I used to watch a number of African ladies who were always there. I am not exactly sure what part of Africa they were from but they were extremely tall. As the 1000s of holidaymakers passed they held out their hands to say hola. Once a person held their hand they did not get released until they gave money for good luck. This seemed to happen at least every 5 minutes. Good business and bad luck for the holidaymaker.
If someone wants to sell you something and you don’t want it why would you put in in your hands? Once you do this it becomes harder to say no. That is why the seller will try their best to get you to hold it. When I was recently in Skopje Macedonia a guy selling sunglasses tried his best every day to buy a pair. I have a pair of good sunglasses that I don’t really use. He tried every trick in the book to get me to hold them. I did not want them which I told him every day so I did not touch them. Interestingly 2000 denars for the sunglasses became 300 on the last day. Just shows they were not good quality. He was a nice guy but at the end of the day, I did not want them.
The baby milk scam
I have seen this in a few countries now and I don’t like it. Mainly because it pulls at peoples hearts and good nature. A person will tell you they don’t want money. They only want milk for their baby. Most people will think ok a carton of milk costs very little. They will then walk you to a chemist. The person in the chemist who is involved in the scam will hand over milk. The other person will quickly leave the pharmacy. You will then be asked for 100 euro or more and be told it is special milk.
Don’t worry about the menu. I can tell you what we have.
If someone is not keen to show you a menu with prices be aware. There may be a reason why not. After you have eaten it is a lot more difficult to argue an inflated bill. Just be say you prefer to choose from a menu yourself. If they are not keen then leave.
Never go anywhere with anyone you that approaches you on the street.
Ok, you may miss out on a possible new best friend for life but it is never wise to go anywhere with a compleat stranger who randomly says hello on a street. Usually, they will suggest you go to a bar of a club with them. They will take you to a selected bar or club of their choice. These places will have a scam arrangement with them. When the bill comes for a few drinks it will be 100s or even 1000s of Euro. Try saying no in a club full of thugs.
A cup of tea won’t kill me Scam
Another more sneaky one is a nice young girl and maybe what she says is her grandfather will start talking to you. Very pleasantly. Maybe she wants to improve her English. They will then suggest you come with them to a local tea shop to continue the conversation. When it comes time to say goodbye 3 teas will come to 100 euro or more. All these places will be in a place or with people you will find it difficult to argue with.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
It is closed today Scam
A popular one in Asia and North Africa. You are near your attraction destination. Then a guy talks to you. He tells you the Royal Palace is closed today as it is a natonal holiday. He will then suggest he can take you somewhere else. The second you get into his car or walk away with him you are in trouble. He will be taking you to a place for his benefit. Not yours.
Playa del Ingles
It is my birthday scam
Cuba is one of my most favourite countries. The people are among the nicest I ever met. Cuba also has a lot of scammers. I have never met so many people who told me today was their birthday. I knew this was to get me to give them a present. Money. I used to answer that was weird as it was also my birthday today and maybe it would be a good idea to not give each other presents. A more elaborate version of this is after a conversation you will be told it is the guy’s daughters birthday tomorrow. He will invite you to the party. I have been invited to many birthday parties in Cuba. I personally have never accepted but I have been told by people who have accepted the party will be held and you will be asked to pay for it and more.
You only gave me 10 scam
Popular among Taxi drivers in Istanbul. You arrive at your destination by taxi. They tell you the cost is 95 lire. You give 100 lire. They will then say you gave them 10 lire. They will show you 10 lire in their hand. They will have this 10 in their hand before you give them the 100.
Another Istanbul favourite is a shoeshine guy walking in front of you will drop a brush. You call them and they begin cleaning your shoes. You think this is a thank you. They then charge you for cleaning your shoes.
Street money changers
I will never understand why people take the risk of changing money on the street. It is fraught with risk. Unless you are in a country with serious currency issues why would you bother? People are getting scammed every day. In Prague when you change money on the street you will possibly get a worthless currency in exchange for your Euro. You will not know this until you try to spend it. Another popular one is after you have given your Euro the guy will say the police are coming and runoff. With your Euro.
Go to a bank or use your debit card.
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