Person Stealing Purse From Handbag


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When scammers are on the lookout for unsuspecting victims, few targets are better than wandering tourists. To protect yourself, a little street smarts goes a long way. But what’s even more helpful is an understanding of a city or region’s common scams.

You can consult online forums and guidebooks for this info, sure, but there’s also a free website dedicated to the task: The website lists over 2,000 common tourist scams in 535 cities, and that number is growing as more users add to the crowdsourced website.

Reddit user u/Djo1e said that they created the free site after traveling in Istanbul. Someone tried to scam them in the Turkish city, but thanks to a little bit of local knowledge, they knew what was coming and avoided involvement.

“That's why I decided to create — a place where you can quickly find out what are the most popular tourist scams in the destination you are visiting,” the Redditor writes in an r/TravelHacks post.

The site is simple. You can either select one of the popular cities on the home page or use the search bar to find your destination. Selecting a city will bring up a list of popular scams. Users can also add their own scams and upvote or downvote entries.

Woman eating italian pasta at restaurant on the street in RomePhoto credit: RossHelen/istockphoto

Here are a few common scams that span the globe:

  • The Bait and Switch: It goes by different names in different cities, but the basic idea is the same. Someone tries to give you something or do something for you (ostensibly for free), only to then demand payment moments later. It doesn’t matter if you never agreed to take the rose or have your shoes shined. They’ll demand payment unless you say no and walk away.

  • The Broken Taxi Meter: Taxi cab scams are everywhere. Avoid them by agreeing on the fare ahead of time and only taking licensed cabs. When in doubt, ask the hotel or hostel to call a taxi for you.

  • The Distraction Scam: Sometimes a group of thieves will stage a distracting scene so that they can rob you blind. So if someone tries to strike up a friendly conversation or ask for help, be friendly but also keep your wits about you.

  • Pickpocketing: Like taxi cab schemes, you can find pickpockets in most major cities. Protect yourself by keeping your belongings close. For example, don’t set your purse down or put your wallet in your back pocket. And while it may be unfashionable, it doesn’t hurt to use a money belt.

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