When scammers imagine a vulnerable, naive, easy-to-manipulate tourist, they are straight up picturing… my face.
I look chronically dopey – probably because approximately all of the time I have no idea what’s going on. I will hand over money to avoid a social situation being mildly uncomfortable, which is something that in retrospect I most definitely should not have written on the internet.
I’ve been picked up by a taxi at an airport in Thailand, and charged $120 for a trip that took less than 1o minutes. I’ve been billed twice for the same hotel room in Paris. I’ve had a woman grab me at Jamaa el Fna, the main square in Marrakesh, and as I tried to pull away, paint an elaborate henna design on my hand. When she was finished, she demanded I pay what equated to about $80, and became physically aggressive when I (tried) to say no.
If a scam exists in a city I’m visiting, there’s a 99 per cent chance I’m going to fall for it.
After one too many bad experiences, I’ve discovered that the most powerful defence against scammers is knowing precisely what to look out for. Here are the biggest scams that affect Aussie tourists.
“Do you want a photo?”
If someone in a costume summons you for a photograph at a major tourist attraction, just know that you’re going to be paying for it.
A particular hot spot is outside the Colosseum in Rome, where people dress as gladiators and pose for photos with travellers.
At first glance, you’ll think to yourself, “Oh! Isn’t it nice that the local council is paying people to add to the experience!” But the council isn’t doing shit.
Following the picture, where you’ll most likely have your eyes closed and look sunburnt, they’ll demand you pay them and it won’t be cheap. If you refuse, they’ll kick up a stink, and then you’re the stupid tourist fighting with a guy in a gladiator costume outside the Colosseum.
“Is this your ring?”
IT’S NOT YOUR RING. IT’S LITERALLY NEVER YOUR RING.
How often has a ring fallen off your finger as you walk down the street? … Exactly.
In Paris, a scammer will approach you with a ring and ask if it’s yours. When it inevitably isn’t, they will try and sell it to you for a low price.
Don’t buy it. It’s just metal painted gold. In a similar vein…