Typical scams to cheat you of your money when travelling abroad

By June 16, 2019 June 26th, 2019 LifeStyle, Travel Hub


Thousands of people travelling abroad on work or pleasure have been robbed of their money and valuables by frauds who only seem to have become more innovative with time. Its important to be aware and stay alert if you want to avoid being the victim of a travel scam, which doesn’t even get covered by insurance. Some of the typical ways in which you could get conned abroad are described below to help you stay way from such situations when travelling abroad. Team RetyrSmart

Typical scams to cheat you of your money when travelling abroad

1. Currency exchange deals
Money frauds are common in countries where different denomination notes are of the same size and colour. Usually the money changers count very fast while an accomplice distracts the tourist with small talk. Or they count so slowly that the tourist gets impatient and leaves without verifying. Either way, the tourist gets less.

In shops, cashiers often replace a similar looking bill of higher value with that of a lower value. Taxi drivers are known to be in the game too. They take a high value note from the customer, drop it on the car mat, replace it with a less valuable note while picking it up and hand back short change.

Common in:
US and some African countries

How to avoid it:

Familiarise yourself with the local currency. If ‘zero commission’ or ‘higher exchange rates’ sound too good to be true, it’s because they are. Try transacting with exact change. It’s better to avoid cash usage wherever possible.

2. Too ready to help

Thieves posing as friendly locals are common in cities where English is not the primary language. They loiter near ATMs, ticket machines and currency exchange offices and are quick to offer help on seeing a confused tourist. The intent behind the help is to get closer to your stuff and steal your belongings.
Locals recommending souvenir shops or restaurants from where they get a kickback is common. In Thailand, frauds are famous for sending off tourists to ‘beautiful alternative’ attractions saying that the original one is closed for the day.

Common in:
Europe, Thailand, Mexico and South Africa

How to avoid it:
Avoid unsolicited help or advice from a local, including hotel staff. Learn basics of the native language to navigate train stations and to avoid getting misguided. trouble.

3. Fake cop alert

The modus operandi of fake cops is to stop a tourist on the street, accuse him of a crime and then demand to search his belongings. The scammer will either slip a few bills out of your wallet or flee with all your stuff.

In another variation, a stranger will ask you to look after his luggage while he goes to the washroom and comes back with someone posing as police. The bag contains illegal drugs so the scammers will extort money out of you. This usually happens outside airports and train stations.

Common in:
Barcelona, Bangkok, Mexico and Amsterdam

How to avoid it:

Undercover police do not interact with tourists unless you have committed a crime. Just walk away when a plainclothes person claiming to be police approaches you. Don’t hand your documents or belongings to even legitimate appearing police. Instead request they inspect you in presence of an embassy member or in your hotel.

4. Beware the drink

This is usually targeted at single men. A young attractive woman will ask you for directions. After striking up a conversation, she will invite you for drinks and food at a nearby ‘highly recommended’ club. She will drink on your tab and disappear moments before the bill arrives, which will be prohibitively expensive. The pub would be a secluded, dim-lit place guarded by bouncers. You will have no choice but to pay up.

Common in:
Barcelona, Budapest, Beijing, Shanghai, London and Rome

How to avoid it:

Avoid going to bars or restaurants with strangers. If you do strike a friendship and want to go out, suggest a place of your choice. Ask the prices before ordering, drink only what has been poured by the waiter and never let your drink out of sight.

5. Dropped money

This involves two or more scammers. A con will point to a stash of cash or a gold ring lying on the ground and ask if it belongs to you. Just when you pick it up, his accomplice will appear claiming to be the owner and accuse you of trying to steal it. He will then threaten to call the police unless you pay a neat sum for settling the issue without getting the police involved.

Common in:
Turkey, Ukraine and Paris

How to avoid it:

Don’t pick up or accept any valuable items, wallet or cash lying on the ground. Report it to the police or security personnel. Never agree to accompany the stranger who found it to the police station as they may rob you on the way.

6. Double check the menu

An usher outside a seemingly fancy restaurant will lure you inside by showing a menu with cheap rates and take it away after taking your order. Then, an exorbitant bill will arrive. When you argue, you will be shown another menu with the same inflated prices as on the bill. Another way in which this scam is played out is by advertising an impressive discount or low-price buffet deal outside the restaurant to attract tourists. However, the final bill will bear normal prices, which is quite expensive. There is no way to argue your way out of this fraud.

Common in:
China and Italy

How to avoid it:

It is best to avoid restaurants with persuasive touts trying to attract tourists inside. If you end up seating in a sleazy food joint with very few tourists present and a suspiciously cheap menu, insist on keeping the menu till your bill arrives.

Disclaimer: The content including advice on this website provides generic information only. Its not been customised for any particular individual or situation. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified and specific opinion whatever be the area viz. health, finances, retirement, lifestyle etc. Always consult a domain specialist for more information. The information is the viewpoint of the author/source and Retyrsmart does not claim responsibility for this information.
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