I work for Zig Zag Productions in London; I’m in the early stages of research for a new travel series for National Geographic.
The aim of this series is to look at the scams that occur in cities around the globe that are aimed at tourists. We want to provide an informative travel show that emphasizes each city as a travel destination but at the same time aims to make tourists aware of any scams; from ticket touts to pick pocketing to more elaborate cons.
I would love to hear from anyone who has experienced a travel scam around the world and might like to tell their story on camera for us. If you would be interested in this please message me via a PM on travellers point. We're visiting a lot of different countries so it would be great to hear from anyone across the globe!
Thanks for your help with this.
(Sam I Am has approved this post)
The famous one in Bangkok is that as you walk towards it, you are told that the Grand Palace is closed and they then "suggest" somewhere else to go. It is of course open.
An annoying scam in some countries is that you take a taxi somewhere and suddenly find yourself somewhere else, that they think as a tourist you might want to visit. A place that pays them money. I have even had that happen in Greece.
In Beijing we went to the Great Wall at Badaling but on the way stopped at a tourist shop that none of us liked and we were stuck there an hour, less time than we had at the Great wall. This sort of thing is fairly common on tours around the world.
Shanghai is known for it's tea ceremony con. Young people come up to you and ask if you want to see the tea ceremony. You go with them, get a few different types of tea to drink and a bill for upto £50. They get very upset if you don't pay.
In Brisbane I phoned a car company from the airport. They picked me up and took me to their place some distance away and the car was not just poor but smelt. If I didn't want it, I had to get a taxi back to the airport.
If you want to insure a car in Spain that is not Spanish, Portuguese or British, you have to get a new MOT for your car, lots of paperwork and get register your car in Spain, with Spanish number plates. You will also need an NIE number, which in some places can be a nightmare, queuing for it for hours at a distant police station.
Penang Island and elsewhere they sell bottles of well known name scents below market price. But they are discarded bottles from tourists which are then filled with coloured, mildly scented water, which costs them peanuts.
In Delhi it was someone cleaning the wax out of your ears. It takes a few minutes with a long tooth pick then they want to charge you more than a Harley Street doctor.
In India at sights and sites you suddenly acquire a guide who hasn't a clue about the place but sticks with you providing a poor commentary and then they ask to be paid afterwards.
In Tikal, Guatemala, the guides have removed all the signs and the assorted maps are little if any help so they offer their help to look around the very big site.
Some hotels in third world countries forbid tipping so the staff say they have people who collect foreign coins and do you have any from your country? These are then sold on.
Thailand and China has fake fossils and very fake old coins. You will notice lots of the same ones about.
Egypt sells fake things from the Pharaoh's tombs. Not worth buying since even if they were real, you would not be allowed to take them out of the country. Egypt is full of scams with everyone wanting your money, even for just opening a door for you. You are regularly overcharged by as much as they can get away with in shops, when buying food drink, changing money, etc.
In Sri Lanka on a train to Kandy I was told about a very good Guest House by a local. It turned out to be owned by his mother. Some days later I paid the previous night for a taxi at 8am. It never arrived and nothing I could do to get my money back. I was also well overcharged on my bus fare in Colombo. I was young in those days.
India, it is standard for tourists to be overcharged by taxis and rickshaws so much that after weeks of it, when someone wanted the right price I asked him to repeat it, not being sure I had heard right.
One guy I spoke to said he and his mates thought they had got a good bargain when they bought a load of script (currency notes) cheap. What they did not know was that the script had changed at midnight to a new kind and what they now had was worthless.
A pretty young girl who speaks English well asks if you want a boat tour of Aberdeen Harbour (Hong Kong), which is full of junks with people living on them. So you agree and you end up being rowed around by an old Chinese guy who doesn't speak any English.
I'm on the Costa del Sol at present and people come here looking for a nice house or apartment they rented online and paid a lot for. It either does not exist or is not owned by them, so the people have lost all their money and have no accommodation.
Phuket (Thailand) and elsewhere, some motor scooter rental companies will claim money for damage that was on the bike when it went out.
In Denpasar, Bali a young woman who was trying some material on me that I did not want, picked my pocket.
That's all I can think of for the moment.
It's nice to know that there's a company or agency that would address to this kind of problems. This would give travelers a bit of a relief. I haven't experience tourist scams so far and I'm not hoping to get into any. I'm just happy that somehow there are people who are finding a way to minimize all these.