US and euro currency notes are particularly at fault here: many of their denominations are the same size or otherwise relatively hard to distinguish. In a car it’s easy for an unscrupulous cabbie to use sleight of hand and switch your note to a lower denomination. Ensure you learn your numbers in the appropriate language and, if in doubt, loudly and slowly count the amount as you pay the potential scammer. Sometimes, as a tourist, you just have to be annoying.
You didn’t spot the sly criminals eyeing you and your possessions as you filled in the form at the hire-car stand. A few miles down the road, just after you’ve stopped at a red light, your tyre bursts. Generously, the motorcyclists that were alongside your vehicle at the lights offer their aid in changing the slashed tyre – and snatch all your belongings while you’re struggling with the jack. Most common in the touristy parts of Spain, but it also occurs in Thailand.
The Ticket Collector
Particularly prevalent around Paris Metro ticket machines, where a friendly local in the queue offers to help you obtain your seven-day pass. He gets the right option up on the screen, but your card mysteriously won’t work. No matter, he will use his and you can pay him back in cash. So much for unfriendly Parisians - this guy’s a Samaritan! Only after performing the transaction and watching him speed off down an escalator do you realise you have paid him 77 euro for a single-use ticket.
Phew, you made it to your Rome hotel safely, you checked in and are just freshening up when a man with a clipboard knocks on the door: he needs to do an inventory of your room and to determine that every appliance is working properly. He will probably ask you for a hand in checking the taps in the bathroom for leaks - but he has deftly left your door off the latch and, while you’re busy in the bathroom, his accomplices will have swarmed in and fled with your belongings.
Shoe Shine Scam
A trick employed in souks and markets everywhere is to thrust apparent samples, or surpluses, of sweets, fabric or tobacco at you and then claim you misunderstood the transaction and you have to pay, over the odds, for the “gift”.
A variant of the same that seems to have wandered beyond the bazaar is that of the “grateful shoe shiner”. You pick up a shoe shiner’s brush that he dropped in the road, and he is so grateful you have saved his livelihood he insists on shining your shoes – for free, of course, you think. Wrongly. When your shoes are gleaming - as you are, at the freebie - he will demand grossly inflated payment. Fellow shoe shiners soon appear to help to reinforce his claim. This routine has reached virtual plague proportions in Istanbul.
If you have any holiday scams you'd like to share drop us a comment!
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