I’ve recently started seeing the Friendship Bracelet scam here in Los Angeles, usually perpetrated by guys in fake Monk costumes. Before this holiday season, I only ever saw that scam in NYC and London.
On my third trip to Montreal (been there 4 times now), the change I got from one of the fruit or vegetable vendors at Atwater Market included a Brazilian 25-centavo piece, which resembles a $1 CAD Loonie coin if you give it only a cursory look. The Brazilian coin is worth about 4 cents.
I’ve hung onto it, actually; the story was worth well over $0.80 US.
I guess Canadians are just more polite even in their fleece-the-tourist chicanery?
It’s pretty location specific, but the Times Square mascots are a personal disfavorite of mine. Luckily, Triumph’s got us covered:
While touristing in San Francisco, my wife and I were stopped a couple of times while taking photos by people offering to take our picture together. I always declined, even though a couple of times we got a fairly pushy response. I wondered what the ploy was, because these folks did not look fast enough to run off with it. Now I know: you have to pay to get it back.
This can work by the way, if you find another couple who are taking photos as well. They’re usually happy to take turns. When the scammers figure that out, it’s time to buy a selfie stick
The fake menu scam is endemic to basically all hotels in Orlando, including the on-property ones at Walt Disney World.
I encountered the charity petition, with the kids pretending to be deaf and everything, in Berlin. The scam was slightly different, after you signed the petition (under duress, they were very pushy) they’d move their hand to show the right-most column on the petition: “donation”. All the people above you (with a remarkably similar handwriting) donated between 5 and 20€.
I refused to sign the first time I saw them, the story on the paper seemed fake, they knew no sign language (I do) and were just too pushy. The next day I saw different kids with the same paper. I took the guys picture… He was not amused Followed me around for the length of the square, at first still pretending to be deaf, later even giving that up and shouting abuse. I sent the picture to the local police, I hope he found a better way to make money by now
I’ll admit, I got a rather nice tour from an overeager Chinese woman when I was at Tiananmen Square. I even remember some official looking vehicle stopping and quizzing the woman, but since I speak no Mandarin I have no idea what it was about. Fortunately I lost nothing and only got taken to some sort of shop selling mall-kiosk-grade wall art which I eventually just ducked out of.
The very same day I’d already fended off what I thought were requests to use my camera to take a photo of me (I at least knew better than that) but instead turned out to be some dude who wanted to take his picture with me with his camera. Possibly to get close enough to steal my stuff, but I was told it was just because he was a dude who wanted to prove he had met a real live American. Go figure.
A Roma girl stole my shoe on a train one time. I’ve thought about it many times, because I was pissed, at the time, but the difference in privilege is so vast that I can only see it as a just act, now. She should have a few dollars to give my shoe back. One of those lessons that a young American needs to learn.
Also, I chuckle at the fact that one only needs to steal a single shoe! The other one just becomes instantly useless.
I, being a natural schnook, bought a $5(CAN) coin for $20(CAN) from a scammer who had a handful of them. Went to the bank next day and asked what the value of the coin was, teller replied $5.
My takeaway from this is that there are FAR more pickpockets in the world than I previously thought. Note to self: just swallow all my money and learn to regurgitate it on demand, and never touch my clothing again.
Checking out of a Cancun hotel, they said our credit card didn’t work. Fortunately, we had another card, which we had not used in Mexico. When we got home there were some Mexican charges on that card.
I was having lunch by a popular photo op site when some tourists asked if I would take their picture (with their camera). I obliged and gave them their camera back, when they left a “gentlemen” came up to me complaining I was cutting into his game.
As if that wasn’t punishment enough.
I feel old. I remember seeing the game with “guess which of the three cards is the hearts” where some obvious lowlife “won” several times in a row, then some eager tourist lost 300 euro, while I was wondering how anyone could fall for such an old trick. This feels like a con from my grandparents time, in comparison to some of these…
I don’t see the “very expensive kiwi” scam. While at an E European fruit market, I had an impulse for a kiwi, but when I asked how much, it became apparent there was both a language barrier, and I had not yet fully learned the value of the currency. He offered to ‘show me’ how much, by motioning to my wallet. He then helped himself to about $10. I suppose he could have just taken all my money, but maybe he had a heart. And hey, maybe Whole Foods sells $10 kiwis too, what do I know.
So I’m curious, would you guys consider it a scam if someone was selling apples $1 for locals, $5 for tourists? Would your answer change if there was a sign clearly stating both prices vs you having to figure it out?
The common denominator for most of these is
distraction, so as to render you a better pickpocket victim.
That is a con from your grandparents’ time. P.T. Barnum was right: a sucker is born every minute.
Even older than that. The three card monte/shell game dates back to like the 15th century.
I got the “girl drops a gold ring and picks it up and asks if it’s yours” scam in Paris waiting for a tour of the sewers, and handed it back; no loss. But in my own town I fell for the pigeon drop, where a little man claimed he was lost and could I help him find his hotel. I let him into my truck and then he screeched “pull over, pull over!” He then gesticulated to another man walking by asking where’s my hotel and that guy got in my truck. The little man had a roll of cash and the other guy said, lets put your cash and this guys cash all together and you hold it. Then I dropped them off thinking I had acquired a roll of cash but it was a roll of paper. And this was long after I’d seen the movie, “The Sting.”