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Common Travel Scams around the World

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21 September 2018 - RPS Partnership

RPS Partnership advises and trains travellers who go to far flung places; we know what you want and tailor training to where you are going and how you are travelling. Here we bring you an article which you may find interesting; the full link may be found at the end.

Contact Andy on +441225 290210 or email us on info@rpspartnership.com

Common Travel Scams around the World

Exploring new cities and countries can leave you open to exploitation; you don’t know the customs or the culture, after all, and some criminals thrive off targeting tourists. Dealing with a stolen wallet or fraudulent charges on your credit card can completely ruin your holiday or business trip.

Below are some common scams to be aware of when travelling abroad:

Beware of Strangers bearing money

You notice a wallet on the ground with money peeking out – too good to be true you think, well it probably is!  Suddenly a stranger appears, picks up the wallet and asks if it’s yours. They might even toss it to you; the goal is to get you to touch or hold the money.

That’s when the scammer’s accomplice appears on the scene. “That’s my wallet!” they claim. Then they accuse you of trying to steal it. At that point, the scammers join forces against you.

There are several variations of this endgame. In the first, the strangers threaten to hand you over to the police if you don’t bribe them handsomely. In the second, they demand that you show your money to prove you didn’t steal theirs. The second your wallet is out in the open, they grab it and run.

In another variation, another “tourist” gets involved.  “Right beside you, another tourist notices the same thing,” says Sorin Mihailovici, founder of the online fraud detection site Scam Detector. “You look at each other, like, “Oh, someone dropped some money!” The other person recommends splitting the money and sharing it. A couple of minutes, the guy who lost his money is right beside you with two or three other guys, and he’s asking for the full amount.”

Don’t mess around with locking up your belongings

When you arrive at your destination and have some time to kill but you really don’t want to carry all your heavy bags around, you can almost always find a storage locker system in a train station or mall.   If you need to use a storage locker, make sure to pay for one on your own.  Scammers have a “key scam” system that’s all too easy to fall for.  Scammers attract targets by taking their belongings out of a locker right as you’re walking up.  Then they offer the locker to you like it’s a random act of kindness. You go for it, thinking it’s cheap and convenient, putting your belongings into the locker.  The scammer might explain that the key is a little wonky, but it’s nothing to worry about.  Once the scammer has the confidence of the traveller, he hands him the key, then locks the locker…which means he changes the key within a second. The traveller then goes into the city, only to find that locker doesn’t open when he returns.  If the traveller can open the locker they find it empty with all their luggage gone for good.  Unfortunately, you cannot always trust random acts of kindness.

Never walk away from your bags – ever.

Almost all scams meant to target tourists are rooted in someone trying to “do the right thing.” While the targeted traveller thinks they’re helping someone, the scammers strike. The “wallet drop” is a perfect example.

It all starts when a stranger drops a wallet visibly in front of you in a train station or other public place. You’re sitting there with all your bags, but you can’t let this fellow walk away without his wallet.  So, you pick it up and chase after him. You hand back the wallet, the stranger thanks you, and you run back to your bench—where your luggage is nowhere to be seen. An accomplice has made off with your property.

Don’t Despair there are ways to protect yourself

There are plenty of ways to keep your bags and yourself safe while traveling. All it takes is some planning and self-awareness.

As a traveller you are focusing on relaxing, your brain is not really trained to actively think with wisdom when the scams happen that is why so many travellers fall victim.  People don’t have their typical personalities when they travel.

Avoiding being a target of tourism crime.

  • Don’t display your wealth
  • Blend in as much as possible
  • Walk with confidence
  • Leave the camera in the bag and practice “selfie-restraint”
  • Use under-shirt pick-pocket wallets.
  • Keep your daily cash separate to your travel money
  • Carry a “decoy wallet” filled with expired cards and a small amount of cash

Preparation is key to safe travel

  • Conduct research into your destination, prior to departure
  • Make sure you know where your nearest Embassy is and how to contact them
  • Sign up for travel advisory services online

If you are looking to travel to Africa, the Middle East, Central and South America or anywhere else in the world, for work or for holiday, come and join us on one of our Hostile Environment Training courses, which will prepare you for anything that your travels may throw at you.

Contact us on info@rpspartnership.com to reserve your place. 

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