Traveling around the world, you can’t help but see many different scams. It seems there is no end to the creativity of people wanting to scam money from you.
3 Card Monte
I remember seeing 3 Card Monte for the first time when I was a child on Canal Street in New York’s Chinatown. Although I did not get a chance to watch long before I saw the guy running the game grab his cards and wooden crate to get away from the cops. Before the quick escape by the con man, I could see a small crowd circling around the game and seemingly have winners finding the queen under one of the 3 face down playing cards. What an easy game! Everyone is winning. Too bad I didn’t have any money to get in this great game. Of course, later on I read up on how these shell games worked. The other thing to watch out for is the crowded scene with your focus on the card game makes you a ripe target for pick pockets. If you see a 3 card monte game, just keep right on walking by.
Snatch from the Bike
When traveling in developing countries, it is not uncommon to see many people riding around on motorbikes. The noise and activity is something you eventually get desensitized. Oftentimes, there is a bike driver and a partner that hangs off the back of the bike. They come by on the side of an unsuspecting tourist and snatch whatever seems of value such as a necklace, phone, camera, etc… By the time you realize what is going on, the driver is speeding off down the road with his accomplice. You have no hope of catching up to them and it would be hopeless to report them to the police. My suggestion would be to travel light and be aware of your surroundings.
It Fell Off the Back of the Truck
How many times have you been approached by someone pitching their variation of selling something that fell off the back of the truck? Over the years, I have been approached with people trying to sell me all kinds of fake or stolen goods. Some lines I heard are: “I just got done with a truckload of deliveries and I have an extra pairs of speakers which i can sell to you for an awesome price if you give me cash”, “I have some left over leather jackets from a trade show in town and I don’t want to carry the stuff back with me on the flight back home”
Tea Ceremony Scam
For those that travel in Asia, you might get some variation of the Tea Ceremony scam. It could be for drinks or a meal. An attractive woman approaches you with some story to hook you for getting a drink or a tea, It probably located in some remote location such that when the shocking huge bill comes up, you feel like you might not make it back out to the street without serious bodily injury. I remember this happened to a friend of mine who managed to sucker punch the large person trying to collect on the bill. He hustled back to the crowd before the owners of the establishment could come after him. But I bet most tourists paid off on those ridiculous bills.
Hanging your backpack or purse out of sight
Whether its walking down the street or hanging them on your chair when you sit down, it going to be attractive to someone looking to empty out your bag. Zipping up the bag is not sufficient. The thief will cut the bag open and slide out the contents without you even realizing whats going on.
On more than one occasion, I got approached by some perfectly reasonable people who were the middle men in a pyramid scheme. They were hard working people that bought into the pyramid scheme idea where they make money by recruiting other people into the scheme. The only people who ever make money on the pyramid are the people at the very top of the pyramid.
Staten Island Ferry
The Staten Island Ferry ticket scam is a variation of a common scam all around the world. The ferry is free but if you don’t know this, there are many scalpers waiting to sell you some tickets. Similar to other venues where the vendor marks up the price on a tourist attraction and sells to unsuspecting tourists. This happens downstairs of my office every day.
With the proliferation of services like Uber, taxi scams may be less common, but its variations are still something to be wary of. You might get a taxi who says their meter is broken and wants to charge you crazy amount after they have taken you to some strange part of town. At that point, you feel uncomfortable to argue with the taxi driver. Other times, the driver takes you through a longer route or supposed toll roads to bump up the fare on you. Perhaps their credit card machine is broker. Or they might take your cash with nothing to make change for you.
Need money to get home
Someone usually approaches you with some variation of losing their means of transportation to go home and asks if you can give them some money to buy transport back home. Sometimes they even look well dressed and have plausible stories as to why they need your money. If you offer to go with them to the transport and buy a ticket, they usually scurry away.
The fake check scam is another scam with many variations but they all want you to deposit a fake check and provide cash to someone. Once the check is discovered to be a fake by the bank, your money is gone. A worse situation is if the scammer has gotten a hold of your bank account info and used it to cit fake checks to someone else. With the phasing out of checks, this scam may die out.