Scams, Touts and Cons: Tourists traps and other travel warnings

Discussion in 'Travel Security' started by anileze, Nov 3, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    On another thread, there is a discussion centered around american tourists and outsiders getting pickpocketed in other countries.

    So I thought I'd start a new thread, more general, and capture all the known scams, cons and types of touts you are likely to see while traveling.

    • Living and working around Times Square for decades, I have seen so many variations of the Three card Monte and other cons in the past, that it is not even amusing :)
    • In the old era (pre cleanup of Times Square), and also in Soho (London) in the 80s, men would come and hawk/hard sell to men of certain age group entrances to clubs and strip clubs etc. Then ripping them off with expensive drinks, and ....you know the story ;)

    Here are some of the links too (cross-posted)


    http://business.time.com/2013/06/22/5-summer-travel-scams-to-avoid/

    http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/298scam.htm

    http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0027-travel-scams
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2013
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  2. flynhwn

    flynhwn Silver Member

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    Pickpockets are working in large groups (5-15) in Madrid. They make their own congestion making an opportunity to lift your wallet. They almost got us as they pressed my wife and I in a manufactured crowd and opened and was rifling through her backpack. After being discovered it was amazing to see the crowd casually disappear in all directions. We spoke to a vendor in the market place and they said that was the new technique that they are warning tourist about.
     
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  3. IsabellaMoll

    IsabellaMoll New Member

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    It is worth noting that you should never stop when somebody's asking you something. You are a tourist, you'd most likely not be able to help with the directions, so why stop at all? Never sign petitions and such things, I've seen a lot of people stop for the petitions in Paris, but as a girl being alone in the city, I didn't have the courage to tell that they must not stop and listen to those things, because it's just a way to distract you and get your purse or bag.
     
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  4. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    A great posting, anileze!

    Regarding your statement:

    "In the old era (pre cleanup of Times Square), and also in Soho (London) in the 80s, men would come and hawk/hard sell to men of certain age group entrances to clubs and strip clubs etc. Then ripping them off with expensive drinks, and ....you know the story ;)"

    You might be surprised to hear that this still occurs in some large cities of the former Soviet Union and in Mideast nations.
    It never hurts to be aware of such easily-detected scams, as they are timeless ways to "separate a fool from their money"! ;)
     
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  5. MSYgirl

    MSYgirl Gold Member

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    At the Roma Termini a very handsome young man who appeared distraught and helpless was at the self-service machines trying to by a train ticket. He stopped me and asked for my help, clearly not speaking much English. I kept my distance and pushed his language on the screen, smiled, and walked off. He followed me and asked me to walk him to the train, which I refused and quickly walked away.
     
  6. FetePerfection
    Original Member

    FetePerfection Silver Member

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    Is it possible he was in distress and once you helped him, grateful? I just hate to think everyone is out to scam us.
     
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  7. MSYgirl

    MSYgirl Gold Member

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    The train was only a few feet away for the one he needed to take, and there were plenty of employees/train operators standing around that were clearly visible. The way he kept asking me over and over to go on the train with him was a red flag to me. Wouldn't it be better to ask the employees in his native language instead of the (cute :D) American?
     
  8. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    How do you say "Taken"?

     
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  9. Counsellor
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    Counsellor Gold Member

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    Maybe he thought you were an American schoolteacher and was just trying to return the favor . . . :D

    (For those who are not of a certain age -- there used to be an old joke about "when in Rome do as the Romans do -- seduce an American schoolteacher.")
     
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  10. MSYgirl

    MSYgirl Gold Member

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    I'm not a schoolteacher, but I play one on t.v. ;)
     
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  11. Paolo Scuri

    Paolo Scuri Silver Member

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    Occupato
     
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  12. Betty Boop

    Betty Boop Gold Member

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    Wow. Very scary. And with sonny students studying abroad.

    Sent from my iPhone using milepoint
     
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  13. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Preso! :)
     
  14. Betty Boop

    Betty Boop Gold Member

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    Several years ago I was in Madrid on Business with a young man who worked for me. We were out walking early Sunday evening in plaza major. I am Italian he is Puerto Rican both dressed more 'European' than American. At one point in the very crowded street someone 'dropped' something at our feet. Then a guy bent down fumbling around our feet to 'look' for it. I sidestepped and walked around him (born and raised in NYC I don't stop for anyone) and from a few feet away motioned to my colleague to come on. But he was standing still. When he did go to take a few steps they left (ran) with the $400 cash he had in his pocket. I had my purse on my shoulder. Luckily still secure. Don't stop unless it is a medical emergency. Unfortunately.

    Sent from my iPhone using milepoint
     
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  15. Paolo Scuri

    Paolo Scuri Silver Member

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    Not to be a smart ass but Preso! is more :I got it.
     
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  16. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    "Taken", for those who haven't seen the movie, is about a young American girl visiting overseas, being abducted into a life of slavery. It's not about an airplane reservation. And well worth watching ahead of time for those who might think that all strangers who accost you are friendly, and always look out for your best interest! :( Travel wisely!
     
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  17. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    The movie - Roman Holiday :) and recently what was that Julia Roberts movie ? Eat Love Pray ?
     
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  18. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    This I observed past summer in Cozumel, but has been going around for eons. It goes like this -

    A man, or a woman approaches you, distraught and in some cases with a fake bandage and a bit of blood. Targeting people from cruise ships or on packaged holidays.

    Con Artist #1: Sir/Madam/Excuse .. Do you speak English {German, French..}
    You: Yes

    [The bait is taken]

    CA#1: My mother(father) and I got into an accident (or got mugged) and she (or he) is seriously admitted into the hospital. Would you please XXXX (Fill in the blanks for the most popular con of the day)

    You are in a group, or on a cruise, you would rather part with a few dolla than get to go to the hospital...
     
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  19. ariosto

    ariosto Silver Member

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    In Paris an old lady (at least in my case ) tried to pull the Gold Coin on the Floor. as we approached she bent down and asked if it was ours and tried to get very close but i had already heard of this so i Left in a hurry :eek:
     
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  20. Counsellor
    Original Member

    Counsellor Gold Member

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    Ah yes, Audrey Hepburn. But no seductions in 1953; I was thinking more of The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961 - Vivien Leigh).

    The comment became sort of a standing joke about schoolteachers (particularly language teachers) taking a sabbatical in Rome.
     
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  21. lootcorp

    lootcorp Member

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    Ah, great thread! I've seen plenty of these types of scams. Coming from NYC I try not to stop for anyone and take all "sob stories" with a shaker of salt.

    Some of my favs:

    Many years ago in Amsterdam, had some time to kill before heading to Schipol for an early morning flight. Was hanging around Centraal Station around 4 or 5 in the morning. There were a ton of touts inside, besides the obvious drug dealers and shady characters, I remember a sketchy looking British couple who were trying to get people to buy a train ticket "with them" so they could get some discount. I got sick of dodging these folks so I wandered outside the station to have a cigarette. Bad move, it's a favorite way for people to approach marks by asking for a spare cig. This real short & skinny kid walks up and asks for a cigarette, I say no. He then says in halting English, "Now give me money or I cut you". That got my attention, but I could see he had nothing in his hands and he was wearing extremely tight pants and there was clearly nothing in his pocket. These observations, his small stature (I'm not a big guy at all but he was *tiny*), and my youthful bravado led me to size up the situation in my favor - I told him to $&@# off and started walking away, making sure to keep him in sight. He starts to walk away and then turns around and heads my way again. I brace for a confrontation but now he's hanging his head low, sounding like he's going to cry, and saying, "Please mister some money for the eating!" I told him he should've led with that and I wasn't giving him anything. He starts to walk away again, then turns back to me again and offers to get me on the train for free because he knows someone. At this point I was almost back inside the station and started signaling to a cop walking by, the kid took that as his cue to scurry off. Guess you have to admire his persistence, at least!

    In NYC, especially by the Port Authority bus terminal, I've repeatedly been approached by people using the same story. They'll whip out some phony looking ID, tell you they're a veteran, and they just need money for a bus ticket home, a hotel room, whatever. When you rebuff them they start yelling at you, causing a scene, saying stuff like, "Oh, so you're going to disrespect a veteran!" or something. They're counting on you feeling embarrassed at the scene they're making and quickly giving in to their demands to shut them up. Don't fall for it, just walk away.

    That's a good strategy for any of these guys who run up with some story or trying to engage... just walk, don't look at them (except to keep aware of what they're doing / where their hands are, etc...), DON'T say a word. I'll usually just wave my hand a bit like, "no" but I won't say anything. In Europe I've had guys come up and try lines in several different languages, the second you said "no" and they heard your accent they would then know you were American (or whatever nationality) and move in with more aggressive "sales tactics". The less info or material you give them to work with the better.

    Bike thefts have been on the rise in NYC recently, and I don't mean people stealing bicycles. Thieves will ride bikes along the curb looking for people waiting to cross the street and holding up their iPhone/etc... and not paying attention. BOOM! They swoop in, grab your phone out of your hand and they're a block away before you even realize what happened.

    I got taken a few months ago at a rest stop in Connecticut on I-95. I pulled in and parked. As I got out of my car there was a guy in a pickup truck parked next to me. As I got out he yells out his car window for help. He has kids toys scattered around the inside of the truck and a picture of a family on the dash, he tells me he's out of gas and is just trying to get home, yadda yadda yadda, he actually tries to start the car and it won't turn over, etc... I had a couple singles on me so I give them to him and wish him luck. About a week later I'm driving home and stop at the same rest stop. Same guy, same truck, and same story as I walk past, he didn't recognize me as his mark from last week. I entertained the thought of asking him the odds of running out of gas at the same exact spot but thought better of it and just walked away.

    Sorry for how long this post got! I have more stories/tips if you'd like to hear but I won't bore you with them now :)

    -Jim
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2013
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  22. milchap
    Original Member

    milchap Gold Member

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    I am fluent in French. While in Paris last year in the Latin Quarter, I was approached three times in an afternoon with a variation of the scam......it is a ring.
    I told the person in no uncertain terms what I thought of the scam: " 2$3*%%" in French. :)
     
  23. flynhwn

    flynhwn Silver Member

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    Ever been offered a sprig of rosemary for good fortune. Saw this in Greece. Don't take it. You will then be hounded for 5 euros and they didn't take it back or no for an answer.
     
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  24. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    Jim, Welcome to milepoint. Nice one @ I-95
     
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  25. estnet
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    estnet Gold Member

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    The thing about kids is interesting - a few years ago in my (then hometown) - a very upscale downtown, a lady with a toddler in a stroller appoached me to ask for bus money to get home - gave her a few dollars. Later in the day saw her across the street doing the same thing. Gives a new meaning to taking the young one out for a walk.
     
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