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November 04, 2008

The Top Travel Scams Revealed!


Tuktukinsiamreapnath
If you're not made aware, tuk-tuks like those found throughout Asia can be a common target for thievery or scams. (Nathan Borchelt)

Thieves, scam artists, trick bookings, grifters... save for the nickel-and-diming of the airline industry, it's undeniably the ugly side of travel. Encounter a seasoned traveler and chances are they can relate the time that their camera, wallet, or passport was swiped, or when that tuk-tuk driver said one thing, and then did something else. 

In an effort to better arm ourselves (and our audience), we've surveyed our deep rolodex of travelers to cull together a list of the most common travel scams, as well as a detailed guide that outlines the ways to avoid becoming a target. Arm yourself with this information, and you increase the chances of a trouble-free trip.

Better still, please share with us your stories of scams, touts, and anything of the sort. Just drop them the comments section of this blog entry. We'll be reading, and culling the best for inclusion in upcoming iterations of the articles.


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Don't be fooled with online scams, they really sucks! I got a lot of e-mails every now and then telling me some sort of winning but actually will scam you if you'll attentively reply to them with your personal information.

Hello! I read your recent post on advice for travelers who may become ill on the road, very informative!

I wanted to suggest a few resources for locating medical care, in foreign countries, that have been very helpful for me.

The International Society of Travel Medicine has a great website that lists qualified physcians, all around the world, that specialize in treating travelers.
www.ISTM.org

International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT) keeps a nice list of physcians, english speaking, in various countries.
www.IAMAT.org

Best of luck and I hope no-one needs to call the doctors on these lists, but if you get sick away, this is a good place to look for help.

In the 70's while shopping in Istanbul,my friend and I met several friendly young men who offered to take us out to a small village to experience life in a rural village. Being naive college students, we agreed, and we all took a taxi out to the village. After spending part of the afternoon with our new friends, a car came tearing down the road to the village. The driver spoke only Turkish, but the boys said we needed to return to Istanbul at once as the hotel was concerned about us. On the way back to town, the boys made arrangements to met us in front of our hotel the next morning for more sightseeing. Once back in Istanbul, the boys disappeared. Next morning when we met them again, we were surrounded by the police. At the police station we were informed that our friends were going to sell us into the white slave trade (prostitution) at the village, but we'd been rescued. They intended to try again if it wasn't for the intervention of the police. The police strongly recommended that we leave the city, which we did the next day.

Milan, last June. On the piazza in front of the Duomo, something like St. Marks in Venice. Pigeons and people everywhere. A guy (with a silent partner) comes up and stuffs corn in your hand, inviting you to feed the birds, then offers to take your picture with your camera. All happens fast and no, I kept hold of the camera. When they see that you're not letting go of your camera (and they will ask several times), they'll ask for a couple of Euros for the feed...

Cabo San Lucas cabs now charge a set fee to go to the airport. If you are by yourself they will charge you 60 dollars. Plan ahead and do it on the internet, or find others who are going to the airport at the same time to share the costs.
I also asked the resort employee to help establish a cost of a cab going to and returning to the hotel. Upon return, the driver demanded more than agreed upon and the same hotel person did nothing to assist me with the problem.

In Paris, the Gipsys would find a "gold" ring on the ground next to you and they would try to return it to you. It looked more like a brass pipe washer. In exchange for their "honesty", they asked for a small reward. The first guy almost got away with it, but after rejecting 5 then 10 Euros and snatching more than 20 Euros from my mother's purse, I physically took all the money back from him and had to threaten him to leave us. My sister took photos of several people running that scam near the Louvre and put them on her site at travelblog. She got mooned by one. He's now on her blog!

In Mongolia, several people handed us notes in English that read "my parents died and I have 4 children..." It was uncanny just how many Mongolians had dead parents and 4 children.

Also, in Paris, the gipsys would at times offer help in English. Afterwards, they would tell you they were hungry and asked for food. Not carrying food around, I gave money. Then while I waited several hours for our train, I got to see her and others work that same scam on others.

In Beijing, we met friendly people calling themselves students who were practicing English. The offered to take us or accompany us where we were going, but wanted us to first stop at their studio, where their "teacher" tried to sell us overpriced original artwork. We found several different places had the exact same "original artwork".

In England, it was the worst. They charged 6 Pounds for a McDonald's sandwich! That was over $12US. :-)

Classify this under Touts (Misleading Come-ons)

Why is it that reputable companies are increasingly using the tactic of sending out email ads that feature "unbelievably" priced airline tickets which don't reflect their true, final cost? For example Orbitz (who I really like to use as often as possible)today advertized excellent London flight deals for only $277RT; then they get a hook in and I go to the site, I then find out the excessive/additional $411 fee + tax for each ticket? This pretty much takes any excitment out of bothering to look at these possible "come-on" rates in the future. There has definitely been a trend in using this "used car salesman" style ad approach by most travel sites.

I'm just trying to understand how they think this will benefit them in the long haul. I am not one to waste my time exploring these "great" rates when the bottom line is way more than double the ticket in tax + fees. And, I do understand why we have unavoidable taxes and fees--just be straight forward about it!

By the way, credibility is still the quality I want first with those I do business with. When you loose that, you loose my business.

Your new "freind"

You meet a freindly local person and fall into conversation. Your new freind suggests a cup of coffee, or a bite to eat, and they know just the right local place. You go and get a table, continue chatting, and when the bill arrives, it is for an outrageous amount which translates into a hundred dollars or more. When you complain, a "menu" is produced showing the inflated prices, and several muscular "waiters" appear at your table demanding payment. This scam is practiced with many variations in various countries, particularly in Asia. Sometimes it has sexual elements.

I MADE A RESERVATION WITH A COMPANY THAT EMAILS UNDER THE NAME OF CRUISE LTD.I FOUND I NEEDED TO CANCEL, I HAD PUT 200 DEPOSIT DOWN. I ASKED THE AGENT I BOOKED WITH AND SHE SAID NO FEE. WHEN I GOT MY CREDIT CARD BILL I HAD RECEIVED A CREDIT FROM ROYAL CARRIBEAN BUT A CHARGE OF 1230 FROM THIS LOWPRICECRUISES CO. YES THEY SAY YOU CAN USE IT ON ANOTHER CRUISE OF EQUAL OR HIGHER VALUE. MT CRUISE FOR 2 WOULD HAVE BEEN 11,000, HARD TO FIND ONE TO USE IT ON UNLESS YOU GO TOP OF THE LINE.. I SAY SAVE OTHERS FROM MY MISFORTUNE!!!

Keep getting clls from Clearwater Florida about a free trip to Disney land or Vegas. Hotels always try to charge you for liquor inthere room refrigerater you did not use.

I got pick-pocketed. It makes you feel like a fool. You've seen this movie before. I had just gone to an ATM in Kuta, Bali, picked up one million rupiah - about $100 - and stuffed it in the back pocket of my jeans. Walking back to my hotel a woman on a scooter pulls over, stands in front of me and says, "hey, mister, wanna dance." She puts her hands on my hips getting me to sway with her hips, then moves one hand down to my crotch and i say no, then she drives off. A few blocks later I realize the other hand went in my back pocket and snatched the million rupiah.

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