Scams on the Road

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Scams on the Road
Self-Defense for Travelers
What to take

For the traveler scams are the most prevailant form of separating cash from the wallet or bank account. Despite popular belief scams occur much more often than muggings or robberies and after they are played out there is little or nothing the victim can do about it. Some con artists are so good at what they do they don't even commit a crime. Con games are everywhere and in abundance. So if you are planning a trip somewhere, especially to a foreign country, heed the following tips to increase your financial security.


Be very careful with who you hand your plastic to, and don't let it ever leave your sight. In a few moments a cashier can overcharge you or write down the card number and other information to make purchases at a later date. People whom you trust and consider friends have the best opportunity to "borrow" your card and spoil your trip. If you lose your card, or notice that your account balance is lower than it should be, immediately cancel your card and order a replacement. It is useful to keep meticulous records of your account balance after every transaction.


Friendship is a ploy most often used in the poorer countries. A local will try to make friends with a foreigner, sometimes over weeks or even months, thereby gaining his or her trust. With "friendly" coercion the foreigner is prompted to buy the friend a few alcoholic beverages. For the sake of the party the foreigner continues to buy drinks for his or her "new friends" until the foreigner ends up with a hangover and is a couple of hundred dollars poorer. Occassionally the "friend" will pickpocket the foreigner's wallet when he or she is too drunk to notice anything. Be very careful with who you trust.


This is probably the most common type of scam. When locals in the poorer countries see a "rich" foreigner approuching they like to raise the price of their service or merchandise substantially. Travelers can combat this by learning what the local prices should be and negotiating lower fees.


If you see a card game in progress walk away. These games are almost always rigged, but cleverly disguised to make it look like there are a lot of happy winners. These "winners" are more often than not part of the scam. They want you to think that winning the game is easy, and if you join in they will make sure that you lose.


Travelers are often approuched by individuals claiming to have great deals for tours because the guides don't work for an agency. Or they'll say that they do work for an agency and would love to show it to you, but it's closed right now. These fronts also hide scams. Your "guide" will usually ask for money up-front, and after he gets it you'll never see him again. If these people don't work for a legitamite, established agency, then forget them.


Some local men and women love to prey on the opposite sex. They'll flirt with travelers, compliment them, and make love to them, in the hopes that the "rich tourist" will buy drinks, meals, and maybe even pay the rent for his or her apartment. Be careful with someone who comes onto you too strongly, look for an ulterior motive, and maintain a healthy skepticism about easy love.