I recently went abroad with my boyfriends family for his sisters wedding. It was a wonderful time, but there were some unexpected shortcomings that none of us were prepared for. Some of these we personally fell victim to or heard of others who'd been trapped by these scams. This is my warning to you to keep your bearings abroad, especially if you plan to travel alone. Here is a list of 5 scams you can fall victim to abroad.
1. Fake Taxi Drivers
Unfortunately, this is one of the scams we fell victim to. There was a very insistent man waiting at departures at our airport insisting that we get to our hotel using his taxi service. We were tired and desperate to get to the hotel, and had contemplated hailing an Uber, but we ultimately went with this man. We quickly regretted our decision, and felt as if the situation could turn into a Taken scenario at any time. We had the driver drop us at our street, not the hotel, and my boyfriend had to fork over 140 Euros ($170). We walked the rest of the way to our hotel.
We later came to know that the legitimate taxis were in a labeled section with a little sign on top of the car. (We only spent 11 Euros, by the way) We also used my Uber and got some rides for reasonable prices. In both of the latter cases we felt safe and well taken care of. So please, use the taxis in the labeled queue or use Uber if it's available in the country you're visiting.
2. The Bracelet Trick
Someone in our wedding party told us about a bracelet trick scammers use near some of the landmarks in the city. They loop a string around your finger and start to make you a bracelet. Then once its complete, they trap your finger in the loop until you hand them over the money they want. My boyfriend and I witnessed many other tourists fall victim to this little slight of hand. If you see someone with a wad of thread offering to make you a bracelet, politely decline and walk away briskly.
3. "Sign this please!"
Also outside of monuments and museums are people asking you to sign random pieces of paper, after they ask you if you speak English. This is where learning the language before you go can come in handy, because lets be honest, you really don't know what your signing and why their asking you to sign it. Politely say, "No, I don't speak English." in their language, and briskly walk away minding your own business.
4. Peddlers Near Landmarks
There are also many people trying to peddle trinkets outside of landmarks for exorbitant prices. You could blow 20 Euros on a tin statue of the landmark, then go to a gift shop and the same thing is 10 Euros or less. Go to the legit gift shops in the museums or at the airport, because even if they charge you a little more you know the quality will be better.
5. Skilled Pick Pockets
This is something you have to worry about practically everywhere nowadays, but people have gotten craftier over time. One thing in particular to look out for is the old distract and take. People will work in teams, one will chat you up and distract you while the other will rob you blind. Wear your cards on your person close to your body and keep conversations with locals polite and brief keeping distance between you guys.
This article was not intended to scare you out of traveling and seeing the world. It was only a cautionary tale for those who wish to venture abroad and do so safely.