As a tourist in a foreign country you become an easy target for Review Scam warnings. You can be naïve of the different cultures and customs and let your guard down when it should in fact be at its highest. It is common for people to not realise they are being scammed, or have been scammed, until they check their pockets or look at their bank balance, so it is therefore important to stop the scam when it is in motion.
I will describe below some of the scams to watch out for and how to best avoid them. It is fair to say that many scams have the same core principles and are just variations of each other. Once you are accustomed to the signs of a scammer you will be easily be able to spot future ones.
From each of the situations outlined below there are valuable lessons to be learned regarding how to stop situations getting worse, and how to handle yourself. Some of these were attempted or actually performed on myself during my travels, so unfortunately I am talking from experience. Hopefully you will be a little more vigilant after reading this and will be able to recognise suspicious behaviour and act accordingly.
All scammers or hustlers begin their routine by getting your attention in some manner. They may appear to be a tourist like yourself or just be someone asking for directions. Cleverly they will try and get you to interact with them by playing on your common courteously or curiosity. For example,
while in Paris I was walking along the River Seine, and passed by a man who dropped a gold ring. Naturally I slowed down and turned to look. He asked if it was mine, pretending he had not seen it before. This is where the interaction started because I was curious and not rude enough to ignore him.
After I confirmed I had not dropped the ring and it was not mine, he then proceeded to say how nice it was and was quick to claim it as his own. He then began to offer the ring to the girl I was with for what he said was a good price. We refused to buy the ring several times and as the man became more persistent we turned to walk away.
He then planted it between her arm and coat stating that it was in our possession so we should pay so we brushed the ring to the floor and continued on. This same scam was pulled on us twice on the same walk along the Seine but we were a little wiser the second time and continued walking. Sometimes people do plant items such as bird seed on you, or give you a service you did not want, and demand payment.
If this does happen then politely put the item on the ground and walk off, or firmly state that you do not want the service before they have a chance to begin. This can sometimes be hard as you are not always aware it has begun. In Egypt I was being taken to the airport by a taxi. As the taxi pulled up and we were paying, the taxi driver’s accomplice was unloading our bags onto his airport trolley and walked off to the check in with us running behind
. Once we got to check in the man demanded payment for his service but we did not hand over any money on this occasion despite him being very angry. Sometimes it is easier to pay them rather than argue but after a similar instance on the way from the airport to the hotel, we had had enough.