Top 10 Travel Scams And How To Avoid Them


Most people like to think of themself as the type of person who would never fall for a scam whilst traveling abroad, however, as unfortunate as it may be, these are exactly the types of people that end up being a victim. The truth is, it happens to the best of us – myself included – so no matter how travel savvy you think you are, if you’re not careful you could find yourself on the receiving end of one of the following scams…

The Taxi Driverthe-8These guys love the language barrier and are happy to completely screw you over when it comes to playing around with the metre and handing you back incorrect or even fake change.

How to avoid them: Know exactly where you’re going. If you have access to google maps, use it. Negotiate an amount before you get in a taxi, don’t let them use the metre. Get to know the local currency and don’t fall for phony bank notes.

The Fake Moneythe-10Apart from receiving this from the local taxi drivers you may find that anyone, including street vendors, are happy to give anyone that looks foreign a fake bank note. Usually it will be the first and second highest denomination of bank notes that you must look out for.

How to avoid this: Be sure to check every note that you receive as change right in front of the person who gave it to you and familiarise yourself with the local currency.

The ATMthe-1
In some parts of the world these things are a nightmare. Picture this: you go to an ATM, put your card in, take out your wad of cash, go to look at your bank account only to find $1000 has been deducted in 3 separate transactions. You’ve been robbed!

How to avoid this: This is commonly known as phishing and happens frequently in many countries . Make sure the very front of the ATM doesn’t have any cleverly placed attachments where the card is inserted. Some of the ATMs are now equipped with phishing security features, however it seems that the bad guys are still getting away with it. Usually your bank insures you for these types of scams so be sure to give them a quick call if you suspect anything shady.

The Spill On Your Clothingthe-2
An unsuspecting traveler is walking down the road when something is deliberately spilled onto their clothing. A smiley local person is nice enough to come and lend a helping hand. Little do you know that one of their ‘business partners’ is jacking your wallet from your back pocket.

How to avoid this: Politely turn down any attempt to clean anything off of your clothing. Do it yourself.

The Fake Police Officersfake-police-officers
Ahhhhh yes, the fake police officer scams. A lot of the time the fake police officer will approach you wanting to sell you things such as drugs or something illegal in hopes you will break the law. Try not to do that. They’ll do anything from waving fake badges in your face to actually (pretend) arresting you.

How to avoid this: Don’t buy drugs from random people in the street or anything illegal for that matter. Don’t trust a nonuniformed policeman.

The Actual Police Officersthe-3
Having said all of that about nonuniformed police officers, uniformed police officers can sometimes be just as corrupt. I’ve had the pleasure of being pulled over in a taxi, searched and my money stolen out of my wallet.

How to avoid this: Unfortunately I can’t really think of a way to avoid this although hiding out in your room and locking the door will certainly do the trick, but where’s the fun in that?

The Overly Flirty Womenthe-11I understand that the allure of an obscenely beautiful local girl can be something that’s hard to resist, but unless you’re the most chiseled man on the planet I would be at least a little skeptical. Why are her and her friend wanting to drink champagne with you? Although most men would like to think that it’s something to do with thier irresistible charm,  unfortunately it could be something a little more sinister. The beautiful women eventually vanish and a bill for a ridiculous expensive bottle of champagne could be coming your way, you could also be drugged and eventually robbed.

How to avoid this: Be particularly cautious of attractive women hitting on you. If you don’t normally get approached by Victoria Secret models back home, chances are she’s after something other than what you were hoping for.

The Over-Priced Travel Agentthe-4
Not a scam in the conventional sense of the word, however knowingly charging double for normally fairly priced tours is something I feel needed to be added to my list.

How to avoid this: These over-priced tour companies prey on lazy tourists. Don’t be lazy, do some research.

The Fake Hotel Wake-Up Callsth
You get a call in the middle of the night at the hotel you’re staying in. The person on the other end of the phone is assumed to be someone from the front desk asking you to confirm your credit card details. It isn’t. It’s someone taking your card details so they can make an exact copy of your credit card.

How to avoid this: Never give your credit card details to anyone over the phone. If it becomes an issue simply ask to confirm your details in person at the front desk.

The Free Braceletsth-1
Females beware! This scam tends to be targeted at you. A kind looking stranger will approach you and attempt to engage in a ‘innocent’ conversation. At some point he/she will forcefully place a ‘friendship’ bracelet or something similar around your wrist. Once it’s locked on your wrist they will demand that you hand over some money, if you refuse all hell will break loose!

How to avoid this: As a general rule I’m very wary of getting anything for free from strangers. You should be too. Very rarely does anything REALLY come for free.


Being scammed obviously isn’t an over pleasant experience. For some it can literally change their entire opinion of a country and leave them with a nasty taste in their mouth. Realise that being scammed isn’t the end of the world. Yes, it is good to take precautions, but in the end it’s all part of the adventure.

Ever been scammed? Tell me all about it in the comments section below…

–  Jarrod


  1. Daniel

    HAHAHA These are great!

  2. Stephen

    I was the victim of the overly flirty woman! the travel agents have ripped me off before too!

  3. Nevertravellingagain

    Wow, just wow! I’m never going traveling again lol

  4. Hi jarrod

    Good list. We too have been caught with the Taxi scam and we consider ourselves fairly savvy when it comes to travelling. Also amusing when the Taxi driver can speak perfect English when you get in the cab but then “no speak English” when something goes wrong. Oh the joys of Travelling.

  5. The spillage one occurred on my girlfriend in Quito, Ecuador, one with a twist. Someone spat on her arm to trigger a disgusted response whilst someone else stealthily opened her bag on her other shoulder . Thankfully her bag is a complicated maze of pockets ! Also got fake money in Peru – from an airport shop.

  6. The only one I suffered so far is the bracelet one. I remember I was in Paris, going to Montmartre. I didn’t even had the time to understand what I was doing that the guy already started lacing the bracelet!
    Of course I paid, and swore a lot afterward.

  7. O man no matter how hard I have tried and educated myself on scams I have still fallen victim to a few of these! I think one of the craziest “scams” I encountered was on a cruise where the street vendors gave us trash bags to bring them food from the buffet! Idk if that’s really a scam on us or the cruise ship but either way it was crazy!

  8. Good lord I have fallen for so many of these. I found myself particularly vulnerable in SE Asia although I certainly found pickpocketing to be much more common in Europe. The real problem occurred in Central America when things could get violent. This was very entertainingly written however and very, very true

  9. Interesting list….wondering how many of these scams you actually encountered. But seriously, the more we spread awareness about these, the more travellers can be stay safe. Very useful post!

    • Jarrod

      I’ve encountered 7 out of the 10. Nothing to be proud of, but yes, good to spread some type of awareness.

  10. I have actually been scammed on my recent trip to France, by a bus driver. He gave me the change in brazilian currency instead of euros, and I lost 10 euros. I don’t think it was his intention through, I think someone else scammed him too and we both didn’t look at the note. I only noticed a day later, when I tried to buy something with my “only 10 euros bill left”.

  11. Ah the free bracelets! Cambodia is the worst for this. To be honest, the only scams I’ve ever knowingly encountered are overpriced travel agents (Thailand) and taxi drivers (everywhere). I actually think women tend to be less likely targets, probably because these scammers believe men will be carrying more money. What do you think?

    • Jarrod

      Not too sure to be honest. I think there are a little more men solo travelers so obviously there will be more men getting scammed.

  12. I became the victim of Travel agent and once I was traveling in India and an old saint scammed me by telling all the crap things about my future! And took my 10$.

    • Jarrod

      Lucky it wasn’t anything more. $10 isn’t a bad price to pay for a cool story haha

  13. What an interesting read. I can definitely relate to some of these especially the taxi cab and bracelets. You did forget one of your list, getting roses? Thanks in regards to the tip about ATM I never knew that and you are right, we must be very careful.

    • Jarrod

      I haven’t experienced anything with roses. but i’ll keep an eye out for that one!

  14. Some of these are harsh, but unfortunately true. Like the fake bracelet stint. I once was in Egypt, and they would put things on you like necklaces or give you a token, but you have to give them money for the exchange… I never understood that.

  15. What’s up, I check your blogs on a regular basis.

    Your story-telling style is awesome, keep doing what you’re doing!

  16. Another scam that was pretty common in Cairo was the “friendly local” that wants to show you something really cool because “you’re so nice”. Usually they do take you to see something more or less worth seeing (a hidden mosque for example), you might even be offered some tea, but as soon as you’ve started to feel comfortable, they begin their stories. They don’t have any money, their kids are sick, their wife died, they can’t afford this and that… Basically they guilt you into giving them money. Not the worst scam out there, but still leaves you with a bitter taste in your mouth (and not just because of the strong tea…)

  17. We are sure we have been unknowingly scammed by taxi drivers several times when they act to look for a destination in vain and the meter keeps rolling. Spill on the cloth and the fake policers sound bit quirky. Thanks to all the information in the post its gonna help us keep on alert.

  18. Feeling a bit sad about the flirty women part!
    It does happen…
    How dreams turn sour!

  19. Great article! I would have added money exchange places. Where they have great rates but then in tiny print they write “50% commission if exchanging under 500 Euro”. Happens a lot in Prague. I never experienced the fake hotel callers or fake police officers. But you’re right that real police officers can be just as problematic 😀

  20. These are all very real and as travelers we need to be alert against this at all times, Some of them like the ATM phishing can really turn out nasty. I think one needs to be aware and alert rather than paranoid.

  21. I think the taxi drivers and phishing you can find literally everywhere! Some of these I haven’t heard of at all like the fake police officers. But also I can’t believe people will fall for some of these like giving credit card details over the phone. You never know though!

  22. Very helpful and informative post. Thankfully I’ve never really been scammed during my travels, but the abusive taxi fares are so common!
    I was in Russia just a few weeks ago, and the only two times we took a taxi, it was so obvious they were overcharging us! I ended up paying more for a 10 minute ride than what I pay to go from my house to the airport here in Dublin.
    Good to know about the other scams too, so I can avoid them if I’m ever in one of those situations, thanks for sharing!

  23. A bit scary to be honest but these are great tips esp for solo female travelers. We should really be wary and cautious all the time esp if we are in a forrign country

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