nfortunately, scams and petty thefts such as pick pocketingand bag snatching are a common occurrence in many countries(including the United States). It is particularly prevalent at touristspots, hotels and transportation centers such as train stations,and airports. Even the most seasoned traveler will be targetedor fall victim to scams eventually. The variety and versions ofscams are infinite and are only limited by the imagination of theperpetrators. Many of these scams are diversions, providing thethieves with an opportunity to pick your pocket or steal yourbags.The following is a short list of some common scams currently inuse around the world. Hopefully, arming yourself with theknowledge of a few of these tactics will help you in quicklyidentifying thieves and protect you from falling victim.
The Slow Count - Cashiers who deal with lots of tourists thrive on the "slow count." Theyll count your change back with odd pauses in hopes the rushed tourist will gather up the money early and say "Grazie." Also be careful when you pay with too large a bill. Waiters seem to be arithmetically challenged. Oops! - Youre jostled in a crowd as someone spills ketchup or fake pigeon poop on your shirt. The thief offers profuse apologies while dabbing it up — and pawing your pockets. There are variations: Someone drops something, you kindly pick it up, and you lose your wallet. Or, even worse, someone throws a baby into your arms as your pockets are picked. Assume beggars are pickpockets. Treat any commotion (a scuffle breaking out, a beggar in your face) as fake — designed to distract unknowing victims The Hungry ATM - If a bank machine eats your ATM card, see if theres a thin plastic insert with a tongue hanging out that crooks use to extract it. (A similar scam is to put something sticky in the slot.) If the ATM machine, looks strange to you (particularly the opening where your card goes) don’t use it. Devices are sometimes added to machines that will read you card and PIN number.
The "helpful" local- Thieves posing as concerned locals will warn you to store your wallet safely — and then steal it after they see where you stash it. If someone wants to help you use an ATM, politely refuse (theyre just after your PIN code). Some thieves put out tacks and ambush drivers with their "assistance" in changing the tire. Others hang out at subway ticket machines eager to "help" you, the bewildered tourist, buy tickets with a pile of your quickly disappearing foreign cash. If using a station locker, beware of the "hood Samaritan" who may have his own key to a locker hed like you to use. And skip the helping hand from official-looking railroad attendants at the Rome train station. Theyll help you find your seat...then demand a "tip.“ The attractive flirt - A single male traveler is approached by a gorgeous woman on the street. After chatting for a while, she seductively invites him for a drink at a nearby nightclub. But when the bill arrives, its several hundred dollars more than he expected. Only then does he notice the burly bouncers guarding the exits. There are several variations on this scam. Sometimes, the scam artist is disguised as a lost tourist; in other cases, its simply a gregarious local person who (seemingly) just wants to show you his city. Either way, be suspicious when invited for a drink by someone you just met; if you want to go out together, suggest a bar of your choosing instead.
Fake police - Two thieves in uniform — posing as "Tourist Police" — stop you on the street, flash their bogus badges, and ask to check your wallet for counterfeit bills or "drug money." You wont even notice some bills are missing until after they leave. Never give your wallet to anyone. Young thief gangs or Flash Mobbing - These are common all over urban southern Europe, especially in the touristy areas of Milan, Florence, and Rome. Groups of boys or girls with big eyes, troubled expressions, and colorful raggedy clothes play a game where they politely mob the unsuspecting tourist, beggar-style. As their pleading eyes grab yours and they hold up their pathetic message scrawled on cardboard, youre fooled into thinking that theyre beggars. All the while, your purse, fanny pack, or backpack is being expertly rifled. If youre wearing a money belt and you understand whats going on here, theres nothing to fear. In fact, having a street thiefs hand slip slowly into your pocket becomes just one more interesting cultural experience.
The found ring - An innocent-looking person picks up a ring on the ground in front of you, and asks if you dropped it. When you say no, the person examines the ring more closely, then shows you a mark "proving" that its pure gold. He offers to sell it to you for a good price — which is several times more than he paid for it before dropping it on the sidewalk. The "friendship" bracelet - A vendor approaches you and aggressively asks if youll help him with a "demonstration." He proceeds to make a friendship bracelet right on your arm. When finished, he asks you to pay a premium for the bracelet he created just for you. And, since you cant easily take it off on the spot, you feel obliged to pay up. (These sorts of distractions by "salesmen" can also function as a smokescreen for theft — an accomplice is picking your pocket as you try to wriggle away from the pushy vendor. Room "inspectors“ -Theres a knock at your door and two men claim to be the hotels room inspectors. One waits outside while the other comes into take a look around. While youre distracted, the first thief slips in and takes valuables left on a dresser. Dont let people into your room if you werent expecting them. Call down to the hotel desk if "inspectors" suddenly turn up.
Bet I can guess where you got/bought your shoes- If they get it right, you agree to an expensive shoeshine. Once you have an agreement they tell you “ You got them on your feet or bought them at the store, quickly bend down and spray polish on your shoes. If you refuse to pay, they will not get the polish off your shoes and threaten to call the police because you refuse to pay for your shoeshine. Their friends may show up and he will began to tell them how you welched on a bet. The broken camera: Everyone is taking pictures of a famous sight, and someone comes up with a camera or cell phone and asks that you take his picture. But the camera or cell phone doesnt seem to work. When you hand it back, the "tourist" fumbles and drops it on the ground, where it breaks into pieces. He will either ask you to pay for repairs or lift your wallet while you are bending over to pick up the broken object.
Need a Ride?/Private Taxi/Limo Scam - While leaving the main train station in Rome, you head for the Taxi Stand where you find an incredible line. You estimated that it would be at least a 30-minute wait. As you sigh, you are immediately approached by a nicely dressed man who offered you a ride and a bypass of the line by saying, "taxi?“ Never take a taxi ride from someone who is not in an official, metered taxi cab. Doing so risks not just your wallet -- but your safety. Scam artists have been known to pose as taxi drivers and take off with your luggage. They have also taken unsuspecting tourists to a deserted area and then robbed and/or assaulted them. At the very least, even if youre lucky and avoid violence or theft, youll still be charged at least 4 or 5 times what the rate should be for the taxi ride. “Are you American? I would like to practice my English” – Correct answer : “I no speaka da Engleesh”… and walk away. They will usually say they are art students and will pester you to know end until they find a way to get money from you.
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