Travel scams

I have been travelling overseas for many years….and to many countries. All over the world there are going to be people that will try and do you in, somehow. If you walk around with a camera slung around your neck or if you refer to a map/GPS every 5 minutes, you are going to stand out like a sore thumb – TOURIST!

You WILL be approached by many touts who are out to lure you to places you did not want to go. Below are the more common scams that occur. Be vigilant, street smart and use your savvy to try and avoid as many of them where possible……

Pick pockets: As a planned team effort, you are firstly demarcated as a traveller/tourist – being the “mark”. (This name is derived from a physical chalk mark applied to you to signify that you are the target). One of your pockets then becomes the target for picking. By means of a bump or shove, you are distracted and your pocket is picked. What to do: Once you are bumped or shoved, immediately reach for your pocket to assure all is still there. Try and avoid putting items of value in the back pockets of your clothing.

Slashed bag: Especially whilst backpacking…and on crowded transport, your backpack/bag gets slashed and goods of value are removed without your knowledge. A distraction of some sorts will make this easier. Sometimes they need not even have to slash your bag, if the zippers are not secured by a locking mechanism – unzip and easily remove what they want…What to do: On public transport, keep your bag in front of you

Mustard mark: Without you being aware of it, you are sprayed/squirted with mustard. You are then confronted by a very polite person offering to clean it off with tissue paper they happen to have handy. You are asked to remove your backpack/bag….only never to see it again!What to do: If this happens, keep on walking to a place where you feel safe to remove the mustard stain yourself.

Bag lifting: Sitting at a bus stop/station/café with your bag/backpack beside you, you notice money or keys (or something else that is semi valuable) on the ground. You lean forward to collect it, only to find your bag is missing when you return to your seat.

What to do: NEVER take your eyes off your luggage – it only takes a second to make off with your bag! Overhead grab on bus or train: You are on a bus or train en route to your next destination. You fall asleep only to find that your bag has been tampered with or is missing – taken by someone that got off at an earlier stop. Whilst sleeping, it is also possible that someone will invade your jacket pockets for loot – whilst you are wearing it!

What to do: Put as much of your luggage in the bus or trains holding space, where it will be pretty safe. Do not put your bag on the floor either – the thief just takes the seat behind you and gains access to your bag from there.

Fake police alert: Be aware of this scam as it can turn for the worse. A person, well conversed in English befriends you. Out of the blue, a “policeman” appears only to find drugs/contraband on your “new friend”. You are requested to accompany them to a fake police station only to be robbed of all your valuables. You can be held for days so that your card can be milked dry by withdrawing maximum daily amounts. This scam is also used in taxis, where someone will ask if they may share the ride – only to be stopped by the “police” once more.

What to do: By making if you do not understand him, try ignoring an officer who is on his own. (In South America, two Austrian tourists were killed as result of this scam).Taxi ride-around: You’re on holiday. Nothing to celebrate it by having a couple of pints and doing the responsible thing by taking a taxi. However, the corrupt taxi driver notices your state of inebriation and does not take you directly to your destination – he rather takes the very much longer scenic route.

What to do: Drink within your limits to such an extent that you still would know the correct/shortest route home. I you see that the taxi driver is still taking you for a long ride, sit directly behind him and raise hell! Always sit in the back of a taxi – safer there…Switched goods: You find a camera (or anything else) at a hawker on the street for a bargain price. By the time you get around opening the box, you bought a container of bricks.

What to do: At point of purchase, open the box to examine your purchase

Bar tab scam: You are, once again, enjoying your leave by having your favourite drink in a pub. A person, normally fluent in English, recommends a “better” pub down the road. You land up at a table next to pretty girls….one bottle of wine on the next and you’re stuck with a bar tab that will make a grown man cry. Bouncers prohibit you from leaving till your exorbitant tab is settled.

What to do: Do not be tempted by this. Try and stay at the bar you are at and do not follow anyone you do not know.

Money on the ground: A person walking beside you in the street happens to spot a large wad of cash on the ground.

Source: Travel scams

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