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Top 10 travel scams as told by a travel expert

February 2015

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2015-02-10 15:06


Cape Town - There's no softer target than a bewildered tourist in a foreign country. Whether it's them being the victims of street vendors and bargainers at markets in Bangkok, or pickpockets on the railway stations in Italy - travellers make for easy prey.

And although some cons seem pretty obvious - like buying an airplane ticket on gumtree - others can be truly cunning indeed.

During the 2014 holiday season, many South African travellers were fooled by such a cunning con artist, who allegedly sold international airplane tickets at discounts to entire families wanting to visit their families and loved ones over the Christmas period.

Much to their surprise, they arrived at the London airport with their bags packed only to find that there was no trace of their booking at all.

Read the full story here: South Africans stranded in UK after major e-ticket scam

Although the South Africans scammed in the story above were involved in a slightly more elaborate con-drama, there are also simpler chancers out there.

A travel scam expert, Peter John, author of Around the World in 80 Scams, explained to the Daily Mail some of the most commonly used traveller scams. Take a look

1) Fake wake-up call

This scam would involve a person, presumably a pretend front desk manager of the hotel you're staying at, phoning your room late at night. They would explain that the internal computer system has crashed and that they need your credit card information again, while in actual fact, they are probing you for your personal info. The chances are good that they're actually a prisoner speaking to you on a smuggled mobile phone. You, in your sleepy state, will unintentionally give them everything they need to empty your bank account. Scary!


2) Airline ticket scam

The South Africans were tricked in a elaborate form of this scam. In simpler cons, scammers would usually advertise refundable airline tickets free online classified sites like Gumtree and OLX. The tickets are then sold for cash. In the end, disappointed travellers end up with no ticket although the airfare has been paid for.

3) Fake-away takeaway menu

After you've settled into your hotel room a 'fakeaway' menu might be surreptitiously slipped under your door.

If you order from it there's a strong chance you won't see any food but the person on the other end of the phone now has your card details and will be making a large withdrawal.

4) Fake gemstone scam

Scammers sell tourists gems cheaply, telling them they can make a fortune by selling them back at home or making them into a pair of earrings or a bracelet. The gems turn out to be worthless. According to John's advice in Around the World in 80 Scams, this scam is especially common in south east Asia and India.



5) Airport security con theft

A sneaky con. As you approach security someone lingers nearby with keys in their pocket. They cut in front of you and set the alarm off, pretending that they 'forgot' to empty their pockets.

While you're being held up as they're searched another con artist quickly steals your laptop, phone, wallet and other valuables from the conveyor belt.


6) Distraction muggings

A well-known yet highly effective scam. One mugger distracts you while another robs you.


7) The change game

While this con happens more frequently in Europe according to the report, don't be fooled into thinking it can't happen to you. Once you've paid for a ticket/souvenir/some street food the cashier will begin a painfully slow process of counting out your change in a hope that you would impatiently grab the change. Don't be impatient, as it is likely that they've counted out far less than you were owed.

Also, beware of receiving the wrong change - rather take your time and count the foreign cash than be robbed due to your own ignorance and impatience.

8) Injured beggars
We see this in South Africa all the time; beggars fake injuries to get greater donations. Although some injuries are real, beware of muggers luring you in this way.

9) Corrupt policemen
Africa, and especially African border patrols are particularly notorious for this. Policemen pretend that tourists have broken the law and demand thinly-disguised bribes,' says John.


10) Rosemary sellers and other people offering 'free' gifts
Beware the lovely woman offering you a sprig of rosemary, or the one that's tying a pink ribbon around your wrist, which is said to be a sign of friendship. Next thing you know she will be holding your hand and reading your fortune, and you'll end up having to dish up dollar bills as you've now received a service from her.

Also see: Scammed? Here's what to do

Article Source : Traveller24
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