For more scams, see also our first installment of this article series.
1. “How about a cup of coffee?”
In this scam you are typically involved in a conversation at a tourist hotspot with allegedly other tourists or nice locals and asked pretty soon if you don’t want to go for a drink in a nearby pub. However, the cheater is in cahoots with the restaurant owner, so that you are served at prices that are completely over the top. And since the menu is written in the local language, you won’t notice the scam until the bill lands on the table. The apparently low price does not apply to the entire dish ordered, but is charged per certain number of grams, cup or even bite/swallow.
Our tip: first and foremost, you should be generally careful when you are approached and invited by strangers. Of course, not all people are up to bad intentions, and especially in areas with a low proportion of foreigners, travellers are often invited. In such cases, however, it is advisable to choose the restaurant or café yourself – this can also be a Starbucks or a similar well-known restaurant. If they are actually scammers, they probably won’t go into it.
2. Just a Clumsy Fellow
Accidents happen. But sometimes there is even more behind it: a “clumsy” passerby bumps into you or stumbles over your feet. He uses the distraction to fish cleverly for your wallet or mobile phone.
This trick is also used with pleasure in the team. While the klutz apologizes to you, his accomplice takes advantage of the confusion and empties your pockets. It’s all done in a flash, and before you know it, they’re already gone.
Our tip: Here the general trick helps not to store valuables in the (back) trouser pockets or to carry them openly. Your handbag, backpack or jacket is best equipped with lockable inner pockets. Pay particular attention to your possessions when there are crowds of people and crowds.
3. Contaminated water at the roadside
It’s oppressively hot, your feet hurt – and you don’t have any water (anymore). There is a great temptation to simply buy a bottle from one of the many sellers on the side of the road. But you should be careful, because these street vendors often sell bottled tap water, which should not be drunk because of the pollution in many countries.
Our tip: always take enough water with you. If you are still dry, you may want to buy water in a shop or restaurant. This will cost you more, but the probability of getting sick from contaminated water can be reduced a little.
4. Artistic performances as a diversionary manoeuvre
A small crowd gathers around a music group, magic show or acrobatic troupe. A deceptive scenery, because the distracted people are an ideal target for pickpockets. In certain cases the thieves are in cahoots with the “artists”.
Our tip: Enjoy such artistic performances. But be on your guard and don’t make it too easy for the thieves: don’t carry your valuables loose or too obviously on yourself – for thieves this is a found food.
5. Restaurant Bills
Finally, a simple, but widespread trick: in restaurants you are often “accidentally” charged for food and drinks that you have never ordered. Or an additional amount scribbled by hand, allegedly a tax or something similar, is demanded.
Our tip: do not pay attention to sums written by hand and do not pay for unsolicited payments.