25 Tourist Scams You Should Watch Out For This Summer

Posted by , Updated on March 22, 2024

No matter where you’re going, most likely there will be someone there happy to scam you. Whether its the cashier at the corner store, the old lady sitting on the park bench, or the fake police officer helping you check your things. While it’s not good to suspect everyone, some common sense and foreknowledge can go a long way. Here are 25 tourist scams you should watch out for this summer.



The Rose Scam

The Rose ScamSource: wikitravel.org

So lets get this one out of the way. Whether you’d call it a scam or not, just know that during your European vacation it is likely that someone will approach you and your girlfriend with roses for sale. Why? Because rejecting a rose while you’re with your girlfriend is kind of hard…or at least that’s what the peddlers think. But don’t feel bad. It’s ok to reject it on principal and buy her a rose from somebody who’s not trying to use shady marketing techniques.


The Room Inspection Crew

The Room Inspection CrewSource: travel.cnn.com

While in Spain, be careful if two men in official uniforms show up at your hotel door claiming they need to inspect your room. One will most likely try to distract you while the other goes for your things.


The Petition For Charity

WritingSource: fodors.com

While walking through the streets of Paris be careful if someone comes up to you claiming to be mute or deaf and asking you to sign a petition. Their hands have a knack for ending up in your pockets while you are busy with your signature.


The Peanut Payday

PeanutsSource: robinesrock.com

If you are ever sitting at a table in Rio de Janeiro and somebody walks up to you pouring some peanuts on your table while insisting you eat them, just remember, they’re not free! He will leave you and go pour peanuts on other tables. If you’ve eaten the nuts by the time he gets back, he’ll be expecting payment.


The Busted Camera

The Busted CameraSource: lonelyplanet.com

A worldwide phenomenon, be careful if someone asks you to take a picture of them and the camera doesn’t work. Sometimes, when you are trying to return it to them, they will fumble it and let it fall. And guess who they’re going to demand compensation from?


The Helpful Pickpocket

The Helpful PickpocketSource: scambusters.org

Common in Europe, someone will pretend to advise you of pickpockets in the area. Their accomplice will be watching you to see where your wallet is when you check to make sure you still have it, and you can guess the rest.


The Map Vendor

mapsSource: wikitravel

Another common scam in Europe, be wary if anybody approaches you trying to sell you a map. Sometimes they will unfold it in front of your face in order to cover up their sticky fingers pilfering your pockets.


The Fake Police Officer

Police forceSource: lonelyplanet.com

Be careful in Latin America and Southeast Asia if a police officer offers to inspect your money because fraudulent cash has been in circulation. When they hand you back your wallet you’ll notice that some of your money is missing!


The Distracted Cashier

Credit CardSource: travel.cnn.com

A popular scam in Barcelona, if you ever walk into a shop and the cashier seems distracted on her phone while you are swiping your credit card, be careful…she could be taking a picture of it to replicate it later!


Slow Change

Change exchangeSource: lonelyplanet.com

A common scam throughout Europe, the cashier will sometimes count your change back to you very slowly hoping that you lose patience and accept whatever she gives you. Of course it’s usually less than what you should be receiving.


The Rushed Taxi Driver

New York City TaxiSource: scambusters.org

A popular scam in Las Vegas, taxi drivers will sometimes seem in a rush when dropping you off. They’ll help you get all your baggage out and then take off in a hurry. What you didn’t realize is that one of your smaller (and possibly more important) bags is still in the car!


The Discarded Wallet

WalletSource: wikitravel.org

Remember the helpful pickpocket? And how his friend checked where your wallet is? Well this is the same concept except this time the pickpockets will leave an empty wallet on the ground. Your natural reaction will be to check where your own wallet is, and of course, they’re watching you. This a popular scam in southern Europe, particularly Rome.


Dropped and Swapped

Money changeSource: usembassy.gov

Oftentimes in Asia, vendors or taxi drivers will drop your change and pick up some similar looking but comparatively worthless coins. You’re a foreigner though and probably won’t be able to tell the difference.


The Overnight Bus

The Overnight BusSource: lonelyplanet.com

Be careful when taking cheap overnight bus transport in Southeast Asia. While you’re sleeping in your seat someone may be rummaging through your luggage below the deck.


An Unfortunate Flat

An Unfortunate FlatSource: wikitravel

It’s easy to tell when you go somewhere and rent a car. A popular scam in Latin America is for a group of kids to flatten your tire, offer to help you fix it, and then steal your things in the process.


Fake Tickets

Fake TicketsSource: scambusters.org

While in Paris and London you may be pleasantly surprised to find an “official” walking up to you in line and offering you a special, slightly higher price on some tickets that will let you skip the rest of the queue. Take note, however, those tickets are probably worthless.


The Kind Photographer

The Kind PhotographerSource: travel.cnn.com

Sometimes in Europe, when someone offers to take your picture, it’s best to be careful. They may ask for some compensation or even run off with your camera.


The Shoe Shiner

The Shoe ShinerSource: scambusters.org

A common scam all over the world, vendors will sometimes offer to shine your shoes for free to demonstrate their products. They will then proceed to shine only one of your shoes. You have to buy their goods if you want to shine the other one!


The Old Woman

The Old WomanSource: ricksteves.com

Known to happen in India and southern Europe, an older lady may try any number of things in order to grab your hand (offering you something, straight out asking you, etc). She will then proceed to read you your fortune and demand for payment. If you don’t, prepare to be cursed loudly.


The Street Performer

The Street PerformerSource: thesavvybackpacker.com

Popular pretty much everywhere, street performers will call on volunteers out of the audience to play a rigged game against them. The volunteer will win because he/she is actually in cohorts with the performer. You will eventually start to think you can win too and a third person may actually suggest you try playing. Just remember that no matter how many times you play you will lose. It’s a scam.


The Postcard

The PostcardSource: usembassy.gov

Another scam to look out for in Rome, a small child will walk up to you and ask for help in writing a postcard home. They will then proceed to tell you a long story about their poverty and guilt you into giving them money.


Not So Free Massages

Beach and SunSource: lonelyplanet.com

Common in the Caribbean, someone will come up and offer you a massage. Even if you reject though, they may start giving you a small sample. Afterwards, even if you say no again, they may insist on payment.


The Expensive Taxi

Taxi in New York CitySource: wikitravel

In almost every country you need to be wary of taxi drivers. Sometimes they will take advantage of the fact that you do not know your way around to take much longer and more expensive routes. If possible try alternatives like Uber. This way you know you’re not being ripped off because GPS can track the best route.


The Music Artist

Cd arrangementSource: travel.cnn.com

Common in New York City, someone will approach you with their new music CD and tell you that you would be doing them a huge favor if you took the CD back home and distributed it in your city. As soon as you take the CD the “artist” will most likely ask for payment.


The Cleaner

The CleanerSource: usembassy.gov

A scam that is overwhelmingly popular in Latin America, someone will subtly spill/stick something on your clothing and then point it out to you. They will offer to clean it off and then either picket pocket you or demand payment. Or both.