We all know that sometimes back packers or travellers can be taken advantage of when they’re in an unfamiliar place and if you don’t know what to watch out for it’s very easy to get sucked in. Mapthegap.co.uk has been asking around and has come up with a list of some of the most common for you to watch out for.
Closed temple scam – This is extremely common especially in South East Asian countries such as Thailand.
How it works: You are on your way to a famous or common attraction such as a temple or palace, when a friendly local stops you and tells you that the particular place you are going to is closed today, however they know of another great place where you can go. They then hail a local taxi or tuk tuk, the driver of which is inevitably in on the scam as well and give you a great little itinerary of their own, most of which will involve stopping in tourist craft shops owned by their friends. Don’t listen to anyone that tells you something is closed - go and check it out for yourself as it is very likely that it will be open.
Teahouse scam – This scam is common place in China and Japan where there are many traditional tea houses.
How it works: A local person pretending to want to practise their English will come up to you and start to chat. They seem very friendly and may chat to you for ten minutes or so before suggesting that you go to a local tea house with them. At the tea house you are presented with many different teas and a tea ceremony, but when it is time to pay the bill your ‘friend’ will have disappeared leaving you to pay the bill, which often amounts to hundreds of dollars. The best thing to do is politely refuse the offer of tea, you can always go to a tea house on your own, where you’re in charge of the ordering. Make sure you always see a menu or price list though so you know how much your bill will be.
Pickpocket scam – These are common on the streets of touristy Spanish cities near churches or large European cities such as Paris.
How it works: Little old ladies will come up to you and try to give you something like a small flower or bracelet. They will pretend that it’s for some religious ceremony. When they give it to you they demand money for it, saying that a very small amount like 50 cents will do. When you hand over the money they will tell you that you’ve given them the wrong coin and take your purse from you showing you the right coin. They will then give you the purse back taking the coin they want. However, at the same time they do this they manage to slip out a few notes without you noticing. Be wary of anyone who is seemingly trying to give you something for free.
Fake police scam – This scam is common all over South and Central America and South East Asia as well as some countries in Africa.
How it works: Men in uniform (sometimes real policemen) will come up to you and demand to see your passport. They will either take it from you and not giveit back until you pay them a large sum of money, or will find something wrong with your visa and make you pay a fine. The way to avoid this is to not hand over your passport, stand your ground and offer to go to the police station to sort this out. They will then usually back down.
Remember to keep your wits about you while travelling. Trust your gut instinct and if something doesn’t seem right then it probably isn’t. Backpacking for a long time can be stressful as well as amazing and people will try to take advantage of this. If you don’t trust someone don’t feel pressured into going with them, just politely decline and walk away. You will inevitably come across some type of scam, but if you’re careful you can avoid the big ones.