Wednesday 5 June 2019


I have traveled all my life. I have traveled in 35 countries such as most of Canada, and most of the United States including Alaska and Hawaii, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Panama, Cuba, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile Uruguay, the Falkland Islands, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Italy, Yugoslavia —before its name was changed—Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and in the Far East; Hong Kong, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.                     

During the many years I traveled about in those countries, I was never scammed. I however have been scammed five times in my life but never when I was traveling. I took great care to use common sense to avoid being scammed while traveling. I will now  tell you about the ten common scams how travelers are victimized by scammers.   But first—

Traveling is truly a beautiful experience. When you travel, you meet amazing, kind-hearted people who will bend over backwards to help you on your journey, you experience new cultures and alternative ways of life, and you develop an appreciation for history. However, despite all the good people you meet, every now and then you will meet some people who are just looking to make a buck off you.  And now—their scams.

Fraudulent Currency Exchanges

It always begins the same way — you arrive in a new destination knowing that one of the first things you’ll have to do is exchange your currency.  Someone comes up to you saying they know the most cost-efficient place to do it. Then that person either gives you counterfeit bills to replace your money or demands a hefty exchange rate that is higher than the going rate.  

To get the best bang for your buck, only exchange money from banks or trusted locations before you go on your trip.  I change some of my money at the airport. Generally, American bills are acceptable in foreign hotels, restaurants and stores. When I arrive at my hotel, I then use my credit card to get the local money that I need. When you are ready to go home, ask your hotel to change their money back to your money.

Petition Scams

A petition scam is when someone comes up to you either on the street or at a tourism site and asks you to sign his or her petition. Once you do this, they ask you for money to help support their cause.

To avoid a petition scam, never sign a petition abroad, especially if you are given little information about the cause or what the petition is supporting. If you’re looking to give support to a cause or give to a charity, it’s best to do some research first although it will be almost impossible to find evidence that their cause is recognized in their country, Further, don’t ever sign any document that a stranger gives t you to sign.  If he is a radical, you can end up in jail for a very long time.

When my wife and I were in Bangkok, a little girl about five offered to sell ne a post card. I felt sorry for her because if you give a child some money, the others will swarm over you asking for money. We just walked away.  Having a child come up to you asking for money is particularly heartbreaking, but remember that these children are often working for adults who are running a ‘business’.


Sometimes a child will come up to you and offer you some cheap jewelry. In some cases, they even slip a friendship bracelet around your wrist and then demand money from you. Always politely decline the child’s offer, and spend your money elsewhere.

The one thing you should not do is speak harshly to the child. It is not the child’s fault that she or he has tried to get you to buy something from her or him. When the little girl followed us for a block, I turned around and patted her on the head and with a sad expression on my face, I said to her as I shook my head side to side, “Sorry.” That way, I didn’t hurt her feelings.

Overpriced Street Vendors

Let’s face it, as a foreigner you’ll be paying a higher price on almost all bartered street vendor goods. However, that doesn’t mean you have to pay exorbitant prices on everything you purchase.

To make sure you don’t get completely scammed out of your money, do some research about what similar products are going for and what locals are paying for them. Never accept the first price a vendor gives you, and barter to the best of your ability.

There is one downside to purchasing something from a vender on the street. He may sell you a camera that was stolen from another traveller. You don’t want to later have to explain why you have the victim’s camera.

Distraction Scams

This type of scam is fairly straightforward in that someone will try to steal your possessions after distracting you in some way, usually by swarming you or by causing a scene.  Be especially aware of the people around you if there is a big distraction going on.  That  is when these bugs will bite you.

You should always be conscious as to where your wallet, passport and camera is at all times. When women are sitting at a restaurant, they should never place their purse on the floor. If you are sitting at a booth, place your belongings on the side of you that is away from the side of the booth you entered. 

When my wife and I were in a Paris subway station, as she passed through the gate, a young thief reached into her open  purse and grabbed her camera. We couldn’t catch up to him.

When I was walking on a sidewalk in the city of Caracas. two young men on a motor scooter rode up close to me and the passenger tried to grab the camera strap that was over my left shoulder. He was unsuccessful. However, I learned a valuable lesson from that experience. When you are on a sidewalk, put the strap on the shoulder farthest from the road.  Better still. Put it around your neck and under your armpit.  

Taxi Scams

In these popular scams, a taxi or tuk tuk driver will knowingly take you the long way to get to your destination, or will claim that the meter is broken and overcharge you for your ride.

Before you arrive in a destination you’re not familiar with, download a map on your smart phone or take a city map with you. Then, when you’re in the taxis, keep track of where they’re taking you and whether or not they’re using the most efficient route.

When my wife and I were in Vienna, we told the taxi driver to take us to the train station. Instead, he took us all over the place before we got there.

When we were just outside a train station in Paris, a cab driver pulled up in a limo and asked if we needed a taxi. I said that we did. He took us to our hotel. Then he told me to pay twice the normal fare. I asked why and he said that it was because we were driven to the hotel in a limo and not an ordinary taxi. I went into the hotel and asked the woman at the counter to help us. She negotiated a lesser fare for us to pay.

When I was in Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, I was shocked when the taxi driver asked for more money than the amount shown on the meter that showed the price of the fare. He told me that the extra money was for the gasoline he used to get me to my hotel. I refused to pay the extra money. He then began to sing., “I am going to take him to the police station.”  He did. The station was under a large park in the centre of the city. The officer dealing with my complaint said that I ready had to pay for the gas as that was the law in Portugal. He told the taxi driver that I don’t have to pay for the gas since he should have told me first before he took me to the hotel. He also told the taxi driver to take me back to the hotel and that he wasn’t to charge me for that trip since he took me away from the hotel. As he drove me to my hotel, I began singing, “I am getting a free ride.”   

When my wife and I were in the capital of Belize, Central America, I asked the taxi driver how much he would charge us for the ten-minute drive to the dock where a small boat would take us to the cruise ship. He said that the fare would be five dollars. When we arrived, he demanded that I pay him ten dollars. I reminded him that he said the fare for us would be only be five dollars. He responded with, “Its five dollars each.                                                  
A really heavy-set woman heard what was going on so she yelled at the driver through his open driver’s window, “Take the five dollars, you bastard.” I gave the crooked driver the five dollars and as we parted, I yelled at the driver, with the appropriate word, “ASSHOLE!” Then I thanked the kind lady.

When my wife and I  arrived at a train station in the Egyptian city of Luxor, a taxi  driver asked where we wanted to go. I told him the name of the hotel . Instead, he took us to another hotel. I told him that was not the hotel I wanted him to take us to. When we arrived at the right hotel, he had the gall to demand that I pay for the trip to the first hotel I refused and the man a the desk threatened the taxi driver  so the taxi driver accepted the original fare he proposed to us.

To avoid the broken meter scam, either don’t take a ride in a vehicle with a broken meter, or negotiate the price beforehand.

When a taxi driver asks you where you would like to go, the first thought that comes to my mind is that old ditty, “Welcome to my parlor said the spider to the fly.”

There have been many times when I have used a taxi to get somewhere and for the most part, the drivers have been honest. But there are many scum bag taxi drivers lurking about so make sure you ask them how much the fare will be before he takes you to where you wish to go.

When my wife and I first arrived at Cairo, we were at a station and a taxi-driver approached us and asked us if we would like him to take us to our hotel. He said that the fare oud be five dollars.

It took him an hour to find our hotel. Cairo is a huge city and the street signs were not in English like our map was. He finally found the street where our hotel was. I was so impressed with his service so I asked him to be at our hotel at nine the following morning I was a speaker at the United Nations Congress being held at a huge conference hall at the other end of the city. He said that he would also pick  us up at five in the afternoon and this was done every day for  five days.  On the weekend, he took us on a tour of Cairo including visiting the pyramids. I gave him fifteen dollars.

While my wife and I were in Cairo, a diver with a horse and buggy kept following us one early evening and he called out, “I will take you wherever you want to go for give dollars.  We ignored him and finally in desperation, he said, ‘How about two dollars? I replied OK. When we arrived at our hotel, I gave him the fiive dollars he asked for.

When my wife and I visited Luxor, which is six hundred miles south of Cairo a driver with a horse and buggy took us every where for five dollars on each trip even when we spent several hours touring a huge temple. He was always at the entrance when we were finished with the tour.

I should point out to you that American currency  is far more in value compared with  Egyptian currency. As an example, while I was at the conference I met a man who was an official at one of the banks in Cairo. He told me that his salary for each month was fifty dollars American. Since the goods be bought with Egyptian currency, it meant that he was living well.

Street Games

These games are commonly found around tourism hot-spots.  The street game gamble is when scammers ask tourists to play a game of cards, dice, or small object in cups for money. Of course, the game is rigged from the start, and the tourist will lose their money. Simply don’t engage with anyone on the street asking you to play a game.

Credit Card Scams

Credit card scams are common everywhere, but can be particularly stressful when you’re on vacation and using your card as a primary money source. Common credit card scams include scanning your card for its information, tampering with ATM’s, and posing as a hotel clerk while asking you to verify your credit card information. Always watch the card being swiped. If it is swipe again, that means that you will be stuck with a second loss of money.
Fake Photographers

This tricky scam can be hard to know whom to trust, but the fake photographer ploy essentially involves people asking to take your photo and then either demanding money for doing so, or running away with your camera.

A good rule of thumb on this is to only hand over your camera to someone if they look like they’re a traveler themselves. If stranger already has a camera in his or her hands. not only will they likely know how to use yours, chances are they won’t be keen on taking your property. Otherwise, don’t ask a stranger to take a picture of you with your own camera. Nowadays most people will take a selfy I nstead.

It’s Free

It doesn’t matter whether they are offering you a free shoeshine, flower, or neck massage; remember that when it comes to strangers on the street, nothing is truly free. People offering these things will often change their price once the service is performed or the product is in your hand, and cause a scene if you don’t pay up.
When I and my wife were in the airport in Honolulu, some twit wearing a brown gown asked me for a dollar. He said if I give it to him, he will say a prayer for me. Needless to say, he didn’t get a dollar from me and I didn’t get his phony prayer. 

As I said earlier in this article, traveling is a great experience but be absolutely sure that you be are on guard for the scum bags that want to rip you off. For the most part, I have found that the people in those countries I have visited to be very decent people but as we all know, there are dishonest people amongst them.

Incidentally. I have just learned that China is waning its citizens not to travel to the United States because of the  rampant shooting that is happening in that  country. 

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