One of the best things about traveling is meeting new people, whether they are locals or fellow tourists. Chatting with people and finding out about their lives is an experience not to be missed, and you will learn a lot from the people you meet. But unfortunately tourists are the targets for people who want to do more than make friends – these scam artists want your money. The difficulty lies in distinguishing a genuinely friendly local or a lost tourist from a clever trickster. Watch out for these situations which are well known to be set-ups for scams.
Look out for your belongings and money if there is any kind of commotion or disturbance on the street when you are passing. Someone may spill paint or sticky glue on your clothes and while helpfully wiping it off they swipe your wallet. Someone drops something in front of you and when you pick it up someone else takes your bag or wallet. Or a fight breaks out in front of you and while you try to help, or watch, pickpockets have worked the crowd. Be careful if it looks like someone needs help – stand back and move in carefully once you see the situation is genuine.
Be wary of anyone you meet on the street who wants to go for a drink with you – this scam is often run by an attractive woman who befriends a single male traveler and talks them into buying her a drink. Once they have enjoyed a drink or two at a bar of her choosing the bill comes and it is 100 times bigger than expected – the man must pay or risk the bodyguards at the exit.
Also be wary of people who seem like they want to help – to assist you in buying subway tickets, or help you find a seat on a train then demand a big tip, to get you your bus tickets first… Many of these people will find a way of parting you with your cash. Keep alert and aware and don’t fall for these common scams.
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