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Tourists beware: Top 10 travel scams
First Published Mar 01 2013 11:37 am • Last Updated Mar 01 2013 11:37 am

Travel is one of life’s great pleasures, so it is little wonder travelers are more interested in researching which sites to see and which restaurants to visit than finding out what scams they have to watch out for.

In a foreign country or city, people let their guard down, relax and often behave in a way they never would back home, leaving them open to highly organized tourist scams.

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That’s why online travel consultants at the web site Cheapflights have put together a list of the top 10 travel scams to watch out for around the world. Reuters has not endorsed this list:

1. Fake Police

If, as a traveler, you find yourself being accused of a crime you didn’t commit, chances are you’re dealing with a counterfeit cop. For example, fake police might charge an over-the-top, on-the-spot fine for putting out a cigarette in public. Always check the officer’s ID and contact the real police if you have any doubts.

2. Faux Gems

En route to their official destination, dodgy tuk-tuk or taxi drivers take travelers to stores where they are offered deals that are literally too good to be true. The so-called ‘Gem Scam’ can actually involve any high-priced or desirable item such as leather goods or "authentic" carpets. Victims soon discover their "jewels" may be nothing more than polished glass and those larger items, well, they never make it back home.

3. Distraction

This can be anything from a child waving a newspaper in your face to an old woman needing assistance or a local helping you wipe a mess off your shirt. While you are distracted, a second crook comes in and swipes your stuff. The key to making it out with all your valuables intact is to pay careful attention to your belongings and others around you.

4. Bar Scams


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These can take a variety of forms, but the basics involve a traveler, usually male, being approached by local women (sometimes a group of seemingly friendly men) who invite him for a round of drinks at a local bar. After a few beverages the locals are gone and the traveler is left with a ridiculously large bill!

5. Tricky Taxi Drivers

Unfortunately for all the good ones, cab drivers have a bad rep for ripping off travelers, but they do have a lot of tricks associated with their profession. Some of the most common cons are inflating fares or telling passengers their selected hotel/bar/restaurant is closed, but never fear, they know a better one just down the road. Always travel in licensed cabs and, if possible, agree on a fixed fare. Also, insist on going to your original destination and see if it is actually closed for yourself.

6. The Struggling Musician

They can pop up anywhere, but are most often found around New York City’s Times Square or on the Las Vegas Strip. CD bullies approach passers-by asking them to check out their music, handing over what appears to be a free copy of their CD. However, once the disc is in your hands, the aspiring superstar (often surrounded by friends) refuses to take it back and expects you to pay for the pleasure of listening to their unsigned gem. Try to ignore these guys, but if one of the ‘musicians’ does manage to get a CD in your hand and refuses to take it back, gently put it on the ground and walk away.

7. Photo Ops

You’ve just arrived at an amazing site and are happily snapping away, trying to get that winning shot, when a local in costume or with an intriguing prop shows up and offers to pose for a photo. This person isn’t just doing this for a bit of fun. The costumed conman is after your cash. Once the photo has been taken he or she will demand a crazy amount of money from you. Even worse, if the person in costume has a partner who took the picture he might not return your camera until you’ve paid up big time.

8. Packed Trains

All ideas of personal space are thrown out the window when riding a train crowded with people. You tend to ignore passengers bumping and knocking into you and it’s in this environment where you have to pay extra attention to your belongings - was that an accident or someone going for your wallet?

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