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Talk:Common scams

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Source of Maradona information[edit]

This text accompanied the Maradona information. I've moved it here. -- Hypatia 19:09, 29 Nov 2004 (EST)

The information on the Maradona is taken, with permission, from Joe Mabel's Bucharest Practicalities page ( ) and released by the copyright-holder under the appropriate license.

Please add more help[edit]

It is all very well to describe scams. But we should also tell how to avoid them and how to get out of them once you are in the situation. For example, "Rental damage": Can you rent jet skis witout leaving something as guarantee and if not what should you leave? And if they do take your passport hostage, will it help to call the police? --elgaard 11:26, 4 Jan 2006 (EST)


Can we have a cite of some kind of this (here, not in the article)? It does sound rather strange... Hypatia 02:22, 31 May 2006 (EDT)

Taxi scam advice: print a map?[edit]

I'm kind of "meh" about this: If you can, go to a map website, print out the route, then hand this to the driver. Taxi drivers picking up fares at any international airport in the world are always looking for a good fare, and any opportunity to make it longer to justify their waiting time.

In many cities (practically anywhere outside Singapore in South-East Asia, for example), the fastest route between point X and point Y not only involves three U-turns and driving past squawking chickens through somebody's backyard, but changes depending on the time of day and the phase of the moon. If anything, the hand-a-map routine is a big whomping red flag that you have no clue. The previous advice of using fixed-price taxis and getting an approximation of the fare in advance is IMHO much better. Jpatokal 07:46, 25 December 2006 (EST)

Jpatokal's got it right. After all, the taxi driver knows the streets better than anyone else. 06:57, 17 January 2007 (EST)

Yes. I was once a taxi driver in Ottawa, and I'd say at least 70% of the customers who told me which route to take picked routes that were slower and more expensive than what I'd have chosen. Fine by me; the customer is happy and I get more money. Pashley 04:51, 13 November 2007 (EST)

Art school "scam"?[edit]

What? There's no scamming involved. It's 100% subjective what the price of a work is. I don't understand how this is a scam. -- 16:03, 9 February 2008 (EST)

No, it's the way they get their customers that the scam. The "students" (who probably aren't students at all) befriend you seemingly innocently, practicing English, maybe a bit of a romantic vibe... but it's all just a set-up to get you into the gallery. Jpatokal 22:54, 9 February 2008 (EST)
I've expanded the art school section by a couple of sentences to clarify that they aren't usually actually students, and that it's a social pressure scam. Hypatia 09:58, 19 March 2008 (EDT)

a suggestion[edit]

Just a suggestion: for many descriptions of the scams, it would help to have a clearly-defined "how to recognize" and "how to react / how to protect yourself" sections.

Opinions? (unfortunately, I'm not feeling competent to plunge forward with this initiative) --DenisYurkin 15:38, 26 February 2008 (EST)

Perhaps informally: each section has a couple of paragraphs: 1. the form the scam takes and what the initial bait is and 2. how to react / protect yourself. Having an actual subheading for each of 1 and 2 seems overkill. Hypatia 10:00, 19 March 2008 (EDT)

Scamming the scammers?[edit]

I think this advice is unethical and possibly dangerous:

You can help to end this scam by using it against taxi drivers. Arriving in a new city, where the train, bus stand, airport is far from the centre, a lot of taxi drivers will offer a really cheap taxi fare if you mention you need a guesthouse. As soon as they take you to the 'recommended' place, say no thank you and either walk away or take a different taxi. You will save a ton of money even with the second taxi, now that you have to go a shorter distance, for example you can get across Delhi for 20Rs instead of the standard 150Rs.

If you ask an airport cabbie to take you to any hotel/guesthouse/whatever, and they take you to one, they've done exactly what you asked them to do, and they're going to lose money if they don't get their commission. It's only a scam when they refuse to take you where you want to go. Jpatokal 23:58, 16 November 2008 (EST)

List of scams[edit]

Not sure a link to this list belongs in the article, but it seems worth having here. Pashley 08:32, 15 December 2008 (EST)


I am not sure about whether the "Drugging" section belongs in this article. I'm not exactly sure why, perhaps because it seems more like generic (albeit terrible) violent crime to me. We're not listing "in a new city, you might not know the dangerous areas, and someone may mug you" or "in some cities, residents have guns and may shoot you" type of things in this article are we? Someone slipping you drugs seems less travel/ignorance-related and also less avoidable with a bit of research and care than most things we list. Hypatia 06:43, 26 December 2008 (EST)

Problems with article scope[edit]

I've contributed a fair bit to this article including its current structure, and I think it makes sense for Wikitravel to have some coverage of travel-related ripoffs and scams. However, I am wondering about the scope of this article. A great deal of it is devoted to coercive crime of the drugging (see above), forced removal, many-on-one threats of violence kind of level. While terrible things do happen to travellers who are trusting, unlucky and/or greedy, I am wondering how much space we want to devote to them. It might be that my own experience is biasing me, but I suspect we're describing an awful lot of very rare events in an article called "Common scams" and since we're (per site style) not using citations are quite likely describing a few things heard from friends of friends of friends who once read a newspaper article about travel-related crime in SE Asia. Is there a need and a good way to rewrite it as common scams, rather than "every scary story anyone's heard about travel"? Hypatia 06:53, 26 December 2008 (EST)

Agreed. I've removed the Drugging sections, it's hardly a "scam" any more than violent mugging is. Jpatokal 01:46, 10 January 2009 (EST)
For the same reason, the following should also be removed I think: Pickpockets, Red light bag snatch, and (possibly) Credit card skimming. These things, while very unfortunate and unpleasant, are hardly scams as such. Especially the first two.Dantilley 03:56, 18 August 2010 (EDT)

Dubious advice[edit]

If you are willing to take the health and legal risks of hiring a prostitute, go to a "massage shop", "sauna" or whatever the local euphemism is. These establishments are significantly safer than the street workers. -- except in a minority of areas where such institutions which are legal and effectively regulated, this seems highly dubious advice - surely being on the potential scammer's home territory with the potential for compatriots to bar your exit is even more of a potential threat to the safety of the sex-tourist and his wallet.

This is pretty dubious also: However, an ambitious traveler can actually work this scam in their favor, as in certain countries where meters are required (e.g. China) the passenger cannot be forced to pay for an "informal" (that is, unmetered) taxi ride. A tourist is therefore free to walk away after the ride without paying anything at all: once you step out of his vehicle the driver will have no proof of transaction to show the police. This tactic is not recommended for use by the weak of heart. Dantilley 03:58, 18 August 2010 (EDT)

Fake police[edit]

The innocence of the writer of this passage is envyable:

"The supposed officer says you are about to receive a large fine and points on your license, but you can avoid this by paying a much smaller fee up front in cash. This is not a tactic used by law enforcement agencies anywhere. Legitimate police officers care that the law is obeyed, not about the money they will receive."

In fact when driving in Indonesia, you will regularly be pulled over by real, actual police who are demanding money, especially if you have a white face. They will make up some offence which you haven't committed, and if you unwisely refuse to pay the bribe, they will give you the ticket. In case you want to contest it, other police will back them up. This scam happens, and the best way out is simply to pay the bribe. Although you may get away with paying a little less than was asked for if you are lucky.

I concur. This is pretty universally the case in India. Indians expect to pay a bribe. Indeed, when an indian colleague got a ticket and the officer didn't ask for a bribe, he was baffled what to do - he'd never actually gotten the ticket before.

Scratch car threat[edit]

In some countries like Spain and Italy, there are some times people at parking lots in the cities, acting very aggressive and demanding money for NOT to scratch your car. Its common to give a couple of Euros to these criminals just to avoid them scraping up the car. 10:27, 2 August 2013 (EDT)

Safety Scouts Advice: A series of short videos on travel scams.[edit]

Safety Scouts Advice is a series of short animated videos, published on Youtube, aimed at preventing crime and fraud, with each episode explaining or advising against a specific scam. Most are surprisingly simple and relatively easy to avoid, so the best way to detect and avoid them is to be informed about them before someone tries one on you.