travel

Travellers be warned: Don't fall for these common scams while you're overseas.

When it comes to falling for a scam, foreigners overseas are brilliantly naive souls who make the perfect targets.

Whether it be forking out too much money for a taxi fare or being led to a restaurant you absolutely didn’t ask to be taken to, we compiled the most common scams Mamamia staff have been subjected to, and how you can absolutely avoid them.

Paying far too much for a taxi from the airport

Paying too much for a taxi or tuk tuk is particularly common for Aussie’s abroad who haven’t had time, or the inclination, to do much research.

Take yours truly for example, when I was once travelling in Laos. I had arrived at a new city at night, and hadn’t been smart enough to research exactly where our hostel was before arriving. So, with no internet in sight, we simply asked the closest tuk tuk driver to take us there. After taking us on quite the scenic route, we arrived back at the bus stop, where the hostel was nestled right behind. We payed, shook our heads and bid a very convincing well-played to our scammer.

How to avoid: Google. Your. Fares.

Also, according to Travel Talk Magazine, it’s also worth keeping an eye on the meter – if there is one.

“When you board a taxi, always be sure to pay close attention to the meter reading. If the amount displayed before you start your trip seems excessive, your driver may be using a night time or holiday fare,” the site says.

The “deaf kids” petition in Paris

Those who have traveled to Paris will be well-versed with the infamous “deaf kids” petition that does the rounds in tourist hot spots.

Tourists are targeted, asked to sign a fake “petition” and then invited to donate some money.

According to Corporate Travel safety, there’s a few ways to know if you’re being scammed.

“The petition is usually in English – which should immediately raise your suspicion as you are in a non-English speaking country.

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“When it comes to the Fake Petition Scam, know that the majority of the time the petition the scammer shows you is not official. It is not even a petition.”

How to avoid: Best to steer clear of petitions.

A little more tuk-tuk trickery

More than one Mamamia staffer says they have fallen for a bit of tuk-tuk trickery when arriving in a new city.

They recall jumping into a tuk-tuk and requesting a lift to a hotel or a temple, a shop or a tourist attraction. Often, the driver would tell them it was closed down or not worth visiting, suggesting another “better” option.

More often than not, the driver gets a commission for delivering the tourist to the destination.

“Once I was in Thailand, and the taxi driver told us your dinner destination was closed and so they they recommended somewhere else. My friend and I were 18, had only just arrived in Bangkok so we were grateful and agreed. Fast forward  to a really average meal and being escorted to the ATM to pay $100 for it,” Ruby, 30, says.

“So many times I have got into a tuk-tuk (and sometimes taxi) in Thailand and within five minutes into my trip and the driver has gone, “Oh we just stop by my friends shop”. Basically I think the driver gets a petrol stamp and free petrol if they take tourists there,” Georgia, 35, recalls.

How to avoid: Know your stuff, and know if these places definitely are still open and/or good. Also, be assertive.

Listen: The couple who retired in their 30s.

The ones who take your photo

“Outside the Colosseum in Rome are a group of men dressed as gladiators. They take your camera phone/phone and use it to take a photo of you with them. Then they ask for a ridiculous amount of money for ‘the photo’,” Carrie says. “If you don’t pay them they won’t give you your camera back. My cousin and I were charged 50 euro each.”

How to avoid: Maybe take your own photos.

When things are thrust into your hands

“When I was in Bangkok, a group of sweet looking old ladies asked if we wanted to feed the pigeons and thrust some feed into our hands (should have been hint number one that something wasn’t right). They started grabbing our hands and “throwing” the seed stuff. I don’t even like pigeon! Then, of course, they started asking for money,” Cara, 45, says.

Another Mamamia staffer says she was almost forced to pay for henna she did not ask for, after a group of women grabbed her arm and began drawing with reckless abandon.

“Before I knew it, they were charging be $70 and wouldn’t let me go until I started crying.’

How to avoid: Just cry, obviously.

The pick-pocket who make you bend down

“Outside the La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona there are a lot of pick pockets. They will lead you to souvenir stands with all their products on the ground. When you bend over to look a pick pocket will come from behind and try to take your wallet if you’ve moved your bag behind your back,” Sarah recalls.

How to avoid: Hold onto your bag and its zips all the time.

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