Tourist Scam Alert: 2012
Tourists are targeted by scam and rip-off artists everywhere in Europe. If you know the games (spilling the mustard, bus 64 in Rome, and so on), you're less likely to be a victim. By sharing the latest scams (and learning from each others' mistakes) we'll all travel more safely.
Remember, pickpocketing attempts throughout Europe can be expected unless you wear a moneybelt under your clothing. Smart travelers leave wallets at home and store their credit cards, passport, paper money and rail ticket(s) in a secure moneybelt. Visit our Travel Store for Rick Steves' recommended moneybelts.
What cons and scams have you encountered?
Read the Distillation: Tourist Scams, 2005
- Please don't post questions here. Use our Travelers Helpline.
Unethical Hotel Practices in Paris
As posted by another traveler, beware of hotels that charge in full when you arrive at the hotel, and even before you see the room. We were completely unsatisfied by our "cell block" of a room (and unlike the picures on the web site and description as superior!) and checked back out immediately. The hotel refused to refund our money for 4 nights, even though they say nothing about this policy on the confirmation. Our credit card company backed the hotel, shame on them. But we have learned...never again.
Naples, Fl USA Tue 01/01/2013
We were saved on more than one occasion from being grossly overcharged by cab drivers taking us between our hotels and the airports by obtaining information on typical cab fares before our trip. We also took a few extra minutes to confirm the taxi fares by stopping at the tourist information desks at the airports before getting into a cab. On our first city visit during a 3 week trip through Europe the cab driver tried to charge us 36 Euros for a 12 Euro ride in Lisbon. I quickly jumped out of the cab at our hotel and grabbed the bellman to confront the cab driver (since the driver supposedly spoke no english), while my travel partner retrieved our luggage from the trunk. The bellman sternly spoke to our driver who never got out of the cab - knowing his scam was exposed and he most likely lost money now by taking a longer route - and we only had to pay him the 12 Euros. A little knowledge goes a long way.
Naples, Fl USA Tue 01/01/2013
Bird poo scam
Whilst looking at the wonderful view at the bridge in Ronda, my husband was unfortunately liberally spattered with bird poo. A very kind man, holding paper handkerchiefs offered to help. When my husband was nearly clear of mess he disappeared. it wasn't until a while later when we went to pay for lunch that we found all of our cash had gone. Luckily credit cards had been left, too difficult to shift I suppose. In hindsight (a perfect science I know) we should have realised that there was too much poo and that he was too friendly. Tourist office was extremely helpful. A young couple who overheard what had happened also showed concern, which I believe was genuine. We have been travelling Europe and other parts of the world, including Rio, for more than 40 years now and our first unfortunate incident. It will certainly put us on our guard in future.
Birmingham, UK Tue 12/25/2012
Italy Autostrada Scam
My wife and I are seasoned Europe travelers and are aware of most scams. After a six-hour drive from Santa Maria de Leuca (heel of the boot) to Naples, we arrived at an empty self-service toll booth to pay our toll. I lowered the window to deposit my ticket when a young man came from behind the machine, grabbed the ticket and deposited it. The toll was 17.60 euros and when I started to deposit two ten euro notes, he conveyed in Italian that there was a problem with the machine and to not deposit my money. He probably told the car behind me that I was a tourist who couldn't pay my toll and that driver backed out. He continually pushed a red emergency button until a voice responded and I am sure he said I couldn't pay my toll. A long receipt in Italian showing 17.60 euro rolled out and was given to me along with 2.40 euro in change. I knew in the first two minutes this was not right but, not thinking clearly and frustrated, when I thought I had a receipt and the gate went up I gave him the tens and took off. It wasn't until later that I found the only English on the receipt, "unpaid toll ticket". Be sure to pick a self-service toll lane without what appears to be a window washer. If one pops up after you are hemmed in and tries this scam, at some point you will have the receipt, perhaps some change he has given you and the gate will lift - keep your money raise the window and scram. When you get home pay the toll (within 15 days) before the authorities contact your car rental agency which has the right to charge your credit card for the toll as well as an admin fee of 48-60 euros.
San Diego, CA USA Thu 12/06/2012
Hotels charging for entire stay before stepping in room.
Beware of Hotels that charge you for your entire stay soon as you step in their lobby especially if you have booked directly. I had this experience in Hotel Alhambra in Paris. Extremely unsanitary place lacking basic cleanliness. Upon asking to check out, I was told that it is not possible to get refund for the remaining days, even though there is nothing written on the paperwork.
Paris, France Thu 11/29/2012
Gold ring again???
Seriously, why add to this comment section with the same con over and over and over again? How about some other scams ion other cities or countries?
Atlanta, GA USA Wed 11/28/2012
PHOTO CAMERA scam
be careful not to take photos for others, once i was in bruselles a guy asked me to take photo for him with his iphone, then after the shot he leaned over to watch the photo and also took whatever was in my pocket.
Paris, IDF USA Wed 11/28/2012
gold ring scam
3rd day in Nice and had the gold ring scam tried twice today.
Don't know what they wanted but just responded to their jibberish with a forceful no, and a stern face.
One was by a female and one by a male.
By appearances neither would fit the profile of whom you expect to see lounging on the French Riveria so my guard was already up and once I saw the ring I remembered reading about it here earlier.
camano island, wa USA Mon 11/26/2012
Scams in Europe
THANK YOU for posting all of these scams! We were so prepared when we went to Paris, Barcelona, Venice, Florence, Rome....and encountered MANY of those you described. Especially in Paris...the ring scam by the Seine, the petitioners MANY times, the flower scam in Barcelona and Venice. We felt so empowered knowing what was going on and never bought tickets from anyone on the street and NEVER use an ATM in a crowded area. Dressing down and minimal jewelry; and always wear a money belt; and wear a cross-body purse with your arm over it kept us safe. Hidden pockets in travel pants is a great find as well. Thank you and keep posting!
Sheryl & Michael
Kihei, HI USA Thu 11/15/2012
Gold ring scam - Paris
Continue to beware of gold-ring bling on the streets of Paris! While walking by the Seine in route to the Palace D'Oranges, a young woman appeared to drop something in front of me. She picked it up and thrust it towards me, uttering something in French. When I explained that I spoke French badly, she replied in accented English that it was a wedding ring and appeared to be real gold. She asked if I would like the ring and she handed it to me. The ring was quite large and appeared to be a wedding band. I then realized the scam when she said that I could keep the ring but could I please give her a few Euros for a Coca Cola? I thrust the ring back into her hand and quickly walked off, only to turn the corner and walk right into another gold ring situation. Humorously, I had seen the young woman sitting on the bridge until she appeared to spy me as her next victim and start walking towards me. A quick "No, Merci" and brisk walk off did the trick. While I lost a few confidence points for looking like such an easy tourist mark, I didn't loose any Euros to these con artists.
Everett, WA USA Mon 11/05/2012
Scams in Paris
Gold ring scam is alive and well to this day in Paris. Encountered on my way to the Louvre. I just kept on walking and waved her away. Brown hair, middle aged woman. Also had the petition scam and nice people talking at bus stations. Just ignore! Only valuable I carried was an expired driver's license, one credit card and cell phone for pictures. All in different pieces of clothing. No cash, no passport.
Boca Raton, FL USA Thu 11/01/2012
Self Serve Metro Tickets - Paris
I thought I was smarter than this...I went to the Ticket Vending Kiosk at Gare Nord after arriving on the Eurostar. It was a late train so I knew I only needed a 1 direction pass to my hotel's area. However after sensing a que develop behind me, I became a little less deliberate reading the screen. Then it happened. A fairly fluent english speaking, with a Sub-Saharan African accent began to "help" me. Long story short, after watching the displays, I was convinced the machine dispensed 3x Zone 1-5 tickets good for 4 days. As I was paying the man cash, because I didnt have a chip card, the hair stood up on the back of my neck but being polite, I ignored my quickly emerging sixth sense and kissed 45 euros goodbye. I got to my hotel but the next day ended up buying new tickets. Grosss loss was about 40 euros and I forever will feel dumber for falling for this and not calling him out.
Williamsburg, VA USA Wed 10/31/2012
RE: Traffic Scams
Fines for driving into the inner downtown cities of places like Rome, Florence, etc are NOT scams. It's a legitimate deterrent which aims to reduce gridlock.
USA Mon 10/29/2012
Rome traffic fine
Regarding the Traffic Scam in Rome: the City center of Florence is limited to cars with special permits to enter. If you enter a snapshot of your license plate will be taken and if rented will be tracked back to you through the car rental agency and you will be ticketed. We called out hotel and they provided us with a very specific route. We didn't get a ticket. The fines are very high and so many tourists have no idea about this. Check before you drive into a major Italian cento. I suspect you got the ticket in Florence, however, Rome may have a similar law.
Seattle, WA USA Sun 10/28/2012
My wife and I were at an ATM machine on Rue de Pont Neuf in Paris, right across from our hotel. As soon as I had entered my PIN number in the machine, I got swarmed by some young boys (probably Gypsies, but I can't say for sure. They came at me from both sides. One blocked my view of the screen with a sheet of paper while the other started pushing buttons on the ATM machine. They got away with 300 euros and there was nothing I could do about it. It was my fault as I had neglected to be aware of my surroundings due to being focused on the ATM machine. You have to really be watchful of what is going on around you in Paris.
Le Roy, NY USA Fri 10/19/2012
pickpocketing in Vienna uderground
This happened almost 10 years ago, but I thought it could still be relevant because other people told me it happened to them as well, years later. I was in the main station (Westbahnhof) underground, it was very crowded. When the train arrived it became even more crowded as people was pushing to get in. I felt someone touching my backpack, doing something to it, but I couldn't even look back for the crowd. Once I as on board I noticed that zipper were open and the thieves were lucky to get my wallet. They were even luckier that a card opening the locker where my big bag was stashed was also in my wallet, and did indeed use it. I lost almost all that I had, but my flight tickets, train ticket back to Munich, passport and a book.
I went to the police who was extremely patronizing and unhelpful. I was so distraught that when the policeman shouted at me, I shouted back. Not that it helped, but it made me feel better.
Later, my travelling plans changed, I was spending some hours in the same train station, waiting for my train, I felt I was being watched by a group of gipsy looking men. Probably by the same people who took my stuff, though I could never prove it.
The lesson is to never put your wallet where it would be in easy reach for others. Pretty simple, but it cost me dearly to learn it.
Israel Mon 10/15/2012
Bulgarian tour booking
Can't really call it a scam but we were most deceived with BalkanTrails. My husband got in touch for a tour of Bulgaria and their initial exchange of E-mails went fairly well. He was even considering booking with them when we came across a piece on Bulgarian travel agent practices. It made us aware of a few issues.
We were disappointed to learn BalkanTrails company resume was made up in such a sense the traveler is lured into booking with what seems a well established tour operation while, in fact, it isn't.
They state 10 years of organizing and leading tours for both groups and individuals in Easten Europe, but we could not find record of any tours by BalkanTrails older than one year.
The name of Grand Circle Travel was mentioned and we decided to call and get information at the headquarters of this company in Boston, MA.
After a long wait we finally got in touch with a consultant who was kind enough to check for us and later confirmed Mr. Vlad Trestian was their employee as a tour director on small river boats in Europe. We thought this was weird and could not make the connection between being a tour leader on boats and organizing private tours of Bulgaria.
A further research showed no BalkanTrails registration in Bulgaria. This is entirely confirmed as true by the Bulgarian tour operator we hired for our tour.
Dealing with Balkan trails was disappointing.
LA, CA USA Sun 10/07/2012
Gold ring scam
Just a note that the gold ring scam is alive and well in Paris. The first time I was approached, it was my first day in Paris. I engaged in conversation but quickly realized it was a scam of some kind and refused the ring and walked off. I then counted six more times over the next three days that someone walking toward me reached down to the ground to "pick up" a ring they were rolling out of her or his palm. They would then say something along the lines of "pardon" and try to get my attention. After the first time, I didn't acknowledge any of them, but was amazed at how many times it happened.
Portland, OR USA Thu 10/04/2012
Phone House scam?
Tara in Franklinville, NJ...what happened to you was NOT a scam, but rather an inconvenience caused by your not obtaining your passport back from the store before you left. Reporting this business in a Scams section of this website is inaccurate and further chastising them because they didn't stop their world to accommodate you instead of the customers in front of them is as a result of your own actions.
Langley, VA USA Sat 09/29/2012
Subway in Milan
My boyfriend and I were at the self-service ticket machine at the Milan subway station by the central train station yesterday, and we were approached by a young lady who tried to explain to us how everything works. Knowing about all the scams and pick-pocketing in Italy, both of us were on high alert and trying to work through it while ignoring her. After making sure what we wanted to purchase and checking the price was right, we proceed with the payment. As my boyfriend put in the money, I saw the girl put in an extra ticket on the screen! So I told my boyfriend about it and said we must make sure we get all 3 tickets and all the change. As the 3rd ticket comes out, the girl tried to grab it; my boyfriend tried to block her while I quickly snatched it. As the change came out, she tried to grab those again and in the midst of all the action, she took 2 euro. As we tried to walk away, she held out her hand asking for more! We were both upset by the experience but have definitely learned that next time we should walk away if someone tries to distract us for using those self-serve ticket machine.
Seattle, WA USA Sat 09/29/2012
Robbed at ATM near Rue Cler, Paris
On our first day in Paris, Sept. 3, our son-in-law went to the ATM on La Motte Picquet next to the SuperMarche in front of Ecole Militaire. At the exact time his 300 euros were emerging, four 12 year-olds attacked from behind and grabbed the money. He and two onlookers gave chase but at 57 years old, the chase was over after 2 blocks. Staff at Hotel Muguet said this happens all the time, in even in Rue Cler where one would think is safe.
Elma, WA USA Mon 09/24/2012
The Phone House poor customer service
We stopped in at The Phone House at 41 Rue Cler, 7 arrondisement, Paris to buy a GSM phone and SIM card. They required a passport for the transaction. Three hours later, I realized the passport was not returned to me. I went back, the store was closed, and the tour bus was leaving in the AM before The Phone Store opens. I telephoned twice from the road, and they twice refused to talk to me, telling me they had customers they needed to attend to and they would call me back in an hour. I suggested that I would give them my FedEx account number and to please forward the passport to me at my next hotel, but they refused, saying that the only solution was for me to return in person to pick up the passport. Our tour escort arranged for a friend to go to the store and pick up the passport, but that person was also refused. Finally, after a heated telephone call where I demanded that they give the passport to the friend, they relented.
Franklinville, NJ USA Fri 09/21/2012
Signing Anti-Drug Petitions
I recently noted several good looking young guys prospecting for people to sign an 'Anti-Drugs Petition' in Via Fillungo in Lucca (the busiest Shopping street in Lucca).
They prey on tourists and are professional Spruikers. Once you sign they push for a donation. On the petition there will names of the previous victims/suckers, and the amount they supposedly donated.
I would guess most people give 1,2 or 5 Euro and then the Scammers add a '0' to these numbers which is psycological method to intimidate you you cough up a large sum 'to help' the poor individuals.
These sheets have no receipts or recorded /corresponding numbers. It is an obvious scam. What is a petition going to achieve ?? It's a SCAM.
These guys are professional so just ignore or say 'No thanks'.
They usually start with "Where are you from..?".
My advice is never give money in the street unless it's in your home town and you know the people or organization like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Lions Clubs etc.
Lucca, Italy Wed 09/19/2012
Polite young guy= Scammed in paris
I'm still quite embarrassed as I thought I was quite prepared. However a friend and I (two american young ladies) were scammed by the polite frenchman at the Gare de Nord. We were in such a rush and speak maybe a few words of french, this nice young guy came to our "rescue". He told us where to go then left us to purchase our tickets, so we didn't think anything of it, then mysteriously he re-appeared after I had put my card in the machine (a card with a chip which would have worked) and told us if we didn't have a french card it wouldn't work. We both felt something was wrong with his politeness nevertheless he became pushy and insisted on buying the ticket for us and we pay him in cash. Long story short we paid double for what we thought was a five day pass and turned out to be a child's one day pass. We tried to get help at the metro information desk but they refused to speak to us because we didn't speak french. Moral of the story: go with your gut feeling people aren't that polite! and learn some french
NC USA Thu 09/13/2012
I was Scammed in Amsterdam
After telling the cab driver I wanted to go to the train station, he told me trains were not running to the airport because lightening struck and the station's electrical system was down. He said cabs were very hard to come by since the train passengers were having to find alternate transportation to the airport. Well, I knew it could be a scam, but allowed the driver to take me all the way to Schiphol. What if it were true after all? Would I be able to get another cab?? Well, now that I'm back in the states, I did a google search. Guess what? He lied to me! Oh well. Easy come easy go. :D
Yelm, Wa USA Thu 09/13/2012
Shading B&B in Arromanches
My wife and I stayed at a B&B in Arromanches called Chez Mounie at 16 rue Maurice Lithare. It was posted at 60 euro per night not including breakfast. As we got into town later in the afternoon and were having trouble getting a room, we stayed here. We stayed for two nights and had breakfast two mornings. When we went to leave he informed us that not 60 but 70 euros per night plus breakfast. We haggled with him as he spoke English, but still felt he overcharged us for an average room and mediocre breakfast. Don't stay here or be sure to get the price stated clearly before accepting the room.
Ferndale, Ca USA Mon 09/10/2012
Prague Waiter Scam
At the end of our first meal in Prague the waiter, instead of bringing of proper bill, scrawled out some numbers on a blank sheet. Luckily we had read about this before hand and had a total written down on a scrap of paper. He tried to charge us 600kc for a bill that should have been 435kc.
Kitchener, Ont Canada Fri 09/07/2012
Do not expose your valuables
Distraction Tactic at Rome Trainstation While at the Rome train station, we knew the people next to us were eying our professional cameras. We held tightly to everything, determined not to be ripped off. They even had their "drunk" friends chase balloons in front of us to distract us. We ended up having to go outside and stand with our backs to a wall. Imagine our surprise later when we discovered a razor blade had cut through my camera strap! We were as vigilant as could be and still almost lost one camera. Vicki Bremerton, WA USA 07/15/2012
Displaying expensive items is akin to posting a sign "PLEASE ROB ME". Keep those items in tattered paper bags (if it has a McDonalds logo on it all the better).
Weston, MA USA Mon 08/27/2012
McDonalds in Madrid
Had our backpack stuffed under my chair looking out the window at McD's. A few minutes laster a young guy came up to me and said to be careful, as a man had came by and tried to get my backpack by using his foot to pull at an exposed strap as he walked by. Close call as we had just flown in from Lisbon and our passports were still in the bag. I always put the strap through my chair but failed to do so this time.. And I consider myself to be extremely diligent..
MPLS, MN USA Sat 08/25/2012
Bar Scam In Athens, Greece. (Page updated)
I was warned before I visited Athens about scams from 'friendly' locals towards tourists. It targets male tourists who are by themselves, and those who get tricked can lose a lot of Euros. Here is an article that describes the people and areas involved. Stay safe guys.
Henderson, NV USA Tue 08/21/2012
Local folks care
Just wanted to recognize a helpful older gentleman from the Naples area. He was riding the Circumvesuviana on a Saturday, and I think he was trying to keep tourists safe. I noticed him warning some boy scouts to keep their cameras safe. I was looking at the map to figure out which of the two stops for Herculaneum to take. He asked me if I was going to the archeological site, and pointed to the correct stop- and he told me to be careful "Attenzione" and indicated that I should keep my camera close. I was traveling by myself in Naples, and I have never had so many senior citizens warn to to be careful, "Attenzione", and that funny thing they do with their finger to their lower eyelid. Even the pizza guys at Da Michele sent me off into the night with warning and advice. It was touching and a bit humorous after a while. I was careful and had a wonderful and safe visit to Naples. One of my favorite memories from that trip was "Attenzione!"
Dallas, TX USA Sat 08/18/2012
The Joys of Rental Cars (not)
Bogus Parking tickets, fines, tolls, petrol, parking, scratches, dents - oh the joy of "driving" in Europe. Pisa is perfectly well serviced by train, but I'm guessing you just HAD to have a rental car. And this is exactly why I will NEVER rent another car in Europe.
USA Wed 08/15/2012
Rick's not kidding
After reading R.S.'s books, I was pretty relaxed while we were on our trip because I took precautions (we didn't keep anything in our pockets, used twist ties to secure the zipper on our daypack when in crowded tourists areas, and of course used a money belt). It's a good thing, because we saw every single scam Rick mentions.
We watched pickpocketers working the crowd under the Eiffel Tower, were asked to sign petitions at least a dozen times, were offered a "found" gold ring on our way to the Orsay (we almost burst out laughing), were offered Metro tickets by a shady guy in Rome, and were purposely shortchanged several times by small shop owners in Italy (they give you your paper currency change and then pause--they wait for you to ask for the coins and then act as though it was an innocent mistake).
I thought we were awesome until we got home and found some useless Italian lira coins in our leftover money. . . somebody got us when we were tired! :)
Portland, )R USA Thu 08/09/2012
tourist scams paris
Ring scam all over Paris, Nov. 2010. We stopped to watch them work behind the Arc. A few saw us and started swearing at us and giving us the finger. We didn't see anyone fall for the scam. Can't figure out why they were doing it then and I see here they are still trying it! Anyone approaches us in a foreign country I shout NO! And walk away fast. Haven't had a problem after starting to do that.
Germantown, WI USA Mon 08/06/2012
Bar Scam In Athens Greece
I was warned before I visited Athens about scams from 'friendly' locals towards tourists. It targets male tourists who are by themselves, and those who get tricked can lose a lot of Euros. Here is an article that describes the people and areas involved. Stay safe guys. http://mydestinationtheworld.com/W.P./?page_id=63
Henderson, NV USA Tue 07/31/2012
Rome Taxi Fairs
Regulated taxi fares in Rome recently changed. Not all cabs have updated meters. Just be alert. TC
Atl, GA USA Sat 07/28/2012
Velcro-lined trousers pockets
One might consider lining men's trousers pockets with Velcro. I had local seamstresses sew it on full-length to both front pockets, but 3/4 or 2/3 should be enough) to keep anything valuable from slipping out and b) to surprise a pickpocket. (The hooked part faces the back of a hand, to make a quick grab somewhat unpleasant.)
I rarely put anything important there on visits to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Madrid, and Barcelona: usually a lightweight wallet, with just enough cash to meet anticipated needs. A debit card in the other pocket was not noticeable. I did use a hotel safe where feasible, but usually, my passport, most cash, and one credit card were in my money belt, with clothing hiding its presence, Another credit card and more cash were in pockets in a vest from Magellan's.(I didn't put anything inside my shoes; perhaps I should have!)
My clothing didn't look scruffy, but it didn't look flashy, either. Why tempt thieves? And women could maybe use Velcro to keep something from falling out of, or easily hauled out of, a bag.
Worcester, MA USA Thu 07/26/2012
Taxi Charge in Madrid
Charge for luggage in Madrid is NOT a scam. The charge is usually 1 euro per bag. We saw it posted on the charge sheet on the window of every taxi we took in Spain. Helps if you can read Spanish. The charge is added at the end of the ride. No wonder he would jot open the trunk until you paid.
Bainbridge Island, Wa USA Tue 07/24/2012
Distraction Tactic at Rome Trainstation
While at the Rome train station, we knew the people next to us were eying our professional cameras. We held tightly to everything, determined not to be ripped off. They even had their "drunk" friends chase balloons in front of us to distract us. We ended up having to go outside and stand with our backs to a wall. Imagine our surprise later when we discovered a razor blade had cut through my camera strap! We were as vigilant as could be and still almost lost one camera.
Bremerton, WA USA Sun 07/15/2012
Pick pocket proof your self
Money belts are great, however, fearlessly, I recently went – with Carol - to the most active pickpocket areas in Europe (according to lots of travel experts like Rick Steves) with no money belt and no fears of being pick pocketed thanks to Clothing Arts. We spent several days in Barcelona, frequently on the notorious La Rambla and parallel streets. We walked el Raval (another notorious neighborhood) because the apartment we rented was in el Raval on the edge of La Rambla. Several days, were also spent in London including times at Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus and almost daily using Waterloo Station – our apartment was two blocks down from the station.
Daily, I wore pants from Clothing Arts whom I found Googling on the net. The pants have zippered pockets with tabs and flaps that button over the zippers. There is a hidden zippered passport pocket that is accessible from inside one of the rear zippered pockets. No need for me to reach into my tummy for cash or credit card. I stopped wearing my money belt the first day of trip. The cotton pants are very comfortable in the heat of Barcelona and the sunny beach at Barceloneta. The pants even come with a detachable water bottle holder. I now prefer these pants over my Orvis Travel pants. Carol wishes there was a woman's version because she had to wear her Rick Steves money belt.
I have no connection with the company. The pants are great.
Belmont, MA USA Sun 07/15/2012
Beware the Snake Oil Merchant
While dining on a terrace in Barcelona's Plaça de Sant Jaume after a late night stroll through the Gothic Quarter, we observed a scam artist work his routine. You'll know what's up when you observe a dishevelled man carrying a couple wilted roses approach your table, insisting you buy. Despite our repeated attempts to shoo him away and ignore his presence, his scheme was finally thwarted by an intervening waiter, who lectured the couple sitting beside us that the thief was attempting to rob the woman's purse while using his aggressive street vendor tactics on us as a cover. The woman was so busy chatting up her partner that she failed to keep an eye on her purse, which was sitting on a chair beside her, unsupervised. Moral of the story? Keep your valuables close and stay alert for would-be thieves co-opting you into their sinister ploys. Watch out for your fellow tourists!
Another word of caution: In busy plazas at night, there are almost always multiple people scattered about selling lit-up darts which they continually toss high up into the air. We saw many people distracted by the affair, which we believe was a pickpocket tactic. Ignore the bauble, it won't land on you. And don't buy them for your kids, they're incredibly obnoxious!
People sitting on the steps of La Seu Cathedral were momentarily distracted by an amateur magic show which ended as soon as it arrived. Hug onto your valuables!
Los Angeles, CA USA Sat 07/07/2012
Madrid taxi luggage charge
Taxi driver insisted on 2 euro charge for bags in addition to fare. He had also taken a longer route. Refused to pay luggage charge but would not open trunk until paid. Later was Told to copy license number found usually on top of right rear window and report to local police.
Kinnelon, Nj USA Sat 07/07/2012
Taxis at Termini
Be very careful about the taxi stand at Termini station in Rome. We knew not to get in an unmarked taxi and went to the taxi queue. As we approached, a taxi driver waved us over to his marked cab. He put our luggage in the trunk and as we started off, I noticed he didn't use the meter. We knew we were being scammed but didn't really know what to do about it, as our luggage was in the trunk. Thankfully, he only charged us 20 Euros for what should have been a 10 Euro ride. The hotel staff told us we should have written down his information and come up to get them for aid. Lesson learned and we were just grateful it wasn't more money.
Tempe, AZ USA Sat 07/07/2012
Pickpocketed in Madrid
Pickpocketed in the rain! Credit cards/passports secured but a little cash ($65) was removed by 2 young girls in Madrid. We tried not to speak on the Metro so we would not stand out as tourists but ...duh...I had my Rick Steves guidebook in my hand! Masses crossing street in the pouring rain, lots of bumping with umbrellas and bodies. Grabbed my open purse and looked into faces of 2 teenage girls. More humiliated than financially upset; I'm from New York City! I should know how to protect my valuables! Walked on to the Prado and still had a great day in the rain. Lesson well learned: hide your guidebook on public transportation.
San Mateo, CA USA Fri 07/06/2012
Possible new scams in Paris?
While in Paris, there was a man with an empty baby carriage at the top of the Metro steps who seemed to be targeting tourists for "help" taking the carriage down, while nearby him were hovering several suspicious looking young women. Don't know if this may be an up and coming scam? Seems plausible - While busy with carrying the carriage, perhaps one of the young women taps into the tourist's pockets or purse?
Another individual noted a suspicious instance where an elderly woman in a wheelchair was asking for help getting across a crowded, busy tourist street. Evidently a French citizen angrily confronted her and seemed to indicate she may have been part of a scam. Again, a case where a "helpful" tourist would have their hands busy while others picked pockets as they pushed the woman in the wheelchair.
I would be curious to see if anyone else has observed these, and if they are indeed new thievery methods to be on the watch for. Since a lot of the pickpockets' standard methods (ring, petition, etc.) are being foiled because everyone is knowledgeable about them, the thieves have to come up with something new.
Orlando, FL USA Fri 07/06/2012
I always turn in my rental at the airport and take the train into Paris for a few days, at the end of trips to France. Once at Gard du Nord, a main station, I was looking at signs to determine how to make my way to the main Metro line to get to my hotel. A man offered to help, then offered his metro 'pass' that would let me ride for free for several days, that I could buy for much less than issue price. His 'pass' was actually a used one-time ticket. I typically carry a small backpack with all zippers closed while in any major city in Europe, and have never been the victim of a scam or theft.
Waddell, AZ USA Fri 07/06/2012
Polite Frenchman = Oxymoron?
The Gare du Nord "polite frenchman" scam is true!!! No one was nice to us during our trip except this guy. What are the chances?? Well, in our desperation to make it to the airport on time we fell for it.
It was early in the morning before dawn and nothing in the station was open. The self-service ticket machines were our only option. After realizing the machines would not accept credit cards without chip & PIN nor bills, a "polite frenchman" moved in to offer help with his credit card. I even spoke french with the guy and watched him select the tickets. He must've pulled a quick one because by the time we got to CDG, the tickets proved invalid and we weren't the only ones. After pressing the button for assistance, we were able to get through. Moral of the story? Always carry change. Someone please tell me if the frenchman turns rude when you insist on selecting your own fare.
Los Angeles, CA USA Fri 07/06/2012
Taxi cab scam
Beware of Paris cab drivers upsizing the cab fare and trip. I ordered a cab for pickup at my hotel. This was for a short trip to the Air France Le Cars airport bus. The cabbie, realizing I was airport bound, immediately began pressuring me for a full ride to the airport. Only 35 euro's! As I asked for more specifics, the price last quoted was 50 euro's. I'm sure as he stalled in heavy Paris trafffic and I was now late for a plane, it would have ended at 60 euros. My advice, stick to the luxury of Air France Le Cars buses!
Seattle, WA USA Tue 07/03/2012
Paris RER Gare de Lyon
I travel across Europe a fair bit using trains and coming from the UK often have to transfer across Paris. To get from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon you use RER line D and travel two stops. Easy enough, but every time I do this journey it worries me. There are always pickpockets (usually, but not exclusively young black guys wearing a lot of bling) and the trick is to be very aware.
Try to choose a carriage with few other tourists as one of the dippers will block the exit doors, which is much easier to do if lots of people are trying to descend with heavy luggage. Take a second look at anyone who hangs around on the platform before suddenly deciding to get on the train at the last second. It's only a ten minute journey but you need to be alert for that short time.
UK Tue 06/26/2012
fake plain clothes police city park budapest
Similar to an above story from Barcelona.
Whilst walking in the City Park Budapest after a few pleasant beers, around 6.30 in the evening, a man approached us with a map - he pretended to be greek, and asked directions in English to a place that was miles away.
Like a fool I took his map and spoke to him.
Quick as a flash two very bad impersonation plain clothes police appeared out of the bushes, flashed fake id at us and shouted "Police". I shouted "nein!" even louder and began to walk very quickly towards the nearby metro station in the middle of the park.
The three clowns who tried this scam quickly disappeared.
Manchester, England, England Sat 06/23/2012
My wife and I recently returned from 12 days in Paris, Venice, Florence and Rome. We had an incredible time, and part of my pleasure came from thwarting a few "attempted" scams: the petition scam near St. Chappell, the bracelet scam in front of Sacre Coeur, and a "speak English" scam. Thanks to this forum, we were well prepared and did not encounter any other problems. I was actually expecting to see the gold ring scam, but I never did.
There are also some scammers who ride the metro, such as the guy who boarded the back of the metro car where we were sitting on our first day, and he proceeded to put up a curtain, play music, and do some kind of weak puppet show (I did not watch, as I was on to him from the beginning). After the music stopped, he started going around with his cup, collecting money for his "performance." Since I had no Euro coins in my pocket (we had just arrived), I certainly wasn't going to give him a five for that, so I just ignored him. He got off the train and proceeded to yell at me, but I just ignored him as we moved on. I did learn from that experience to always have a few Euro coins in my pocket, such as for paying the street artists who perform in front of you while you are eating at an outdoor cafe.
Oxford, MS USA Fri 06/22/2012
Thank you for alerting us to tourists scams! I just returned from Paris and had the "gold ring" scam tried on me twice, the "deaf person" request to sign a petition and give money, and the "friendship" bracelet scam to get money. Each time I started to yell out "no, it's a scam!!!" and it was so funny watching the would be scam artist try to wave me away from them! In Barcelona, we also had what I would describe as young "gypsy" girls ask us to get our camera out of our backpack so they could take a picture of us "for us". Luckily, we were alerted that this could be a way to pick pocket us and we said no. We arrived home after three weeks of travel without losing a dime!
Naples, Fl USA Wed 06/20/2012
Scammed in Paris
Just been scammed twice yesterday and today. Yesterday the deaf petition in front of Louvre and today the dropped gold ring scam beside the museum de l'orangerie. I guess I saw it coming, but to be honest I don't care.
Houston, TX USA Wed 06/20/2012
I've seen several comments on getting from CDG to Paris. There are several online sites which offer to send a car to CDG to take you to your hotel, and the same service will pick you up at your hotel for the return trip to CDG. The price is quite reasonable for the service. Viator is one of the sites I use. Also, you will get a much beter exhange rate on Euros once you are in Europe. Check with your American bank and see if they have a "partner" bank where you're heading anywhere in the world. I've done this all over Europe and in Asia, even China.
Las Vegas, NV USA Wed 06/13/2012
Gold Ring Scam in Paris
We have been in Paris only 1 day and already had the gold ring scam tried on us TWICE! Both times we said no....someone steps in front of us and appears to find a gold ring on the ground. They hold it up and ask if it is ours. Because we have read the info on this site we did not become victims. Both times it was near the Louvre. Both times...it was a dark haired woman who approached us. This site is invaluable.
Boston, MA USA Mon 06/11/2012
Gare du nord ticket conman (Paris)
Beware very polite and 'friendly' conman giving 'help' at the Gare du nord. He approached my sisters and I and insisted on using his credit card to buy us tickets to CDG. We then had to give him the cash - of course the tickets did not work once we arrived at CDG - they were just simple métro tickets - do not accept any help when buying tickets at French stations unless from an official employee.
Paris, Sun 06/10/2012
metro station scam (Rome)
Here is a new scam we encountered in Rome recently. Avoid using paper euros in train stations. Plan ahead to have coins for the ticket machines. We had a machine "eat" a 20 euro. To make the story short, thieves put a folded up piece of paper in the machines to jam them-they later collect your money. The attendant at the opposite metro got the euro for us and she explained that this is a common occurrence in unmanned stations.
atlanta, ga USA Sat 06/09/2012
Leaving the Central Train Station we saw designated area for taxis and a small fee to be paid for pairing you with an approved service. Thinking that was unnecessary we took a random cab on the street which charged a rate about 3x as high as the pre-approved taxis in the designated area. Beware - there is a wide variance in rates that may be charged. What should have been a $12 fare was closer to $40. Your hotel clerk can also give you names of reputable companies.
Detroit, MI USA Fri 06/08/2012
All 3 scams in only 2 days
We've been in Paris only 2 days and have already had the petition scam, the deaf mute with petition, the "do you speak English", and last but not least the lost gold ring. You wonder why the Paris police can't entertain themselves by running stings. We took pictures of the gypsy (?) girls working the crowd after they tried it on us.
Altoona, Pakfpp USA Wed 06/06/2012
Luggage Stolen from Locked Car
We were driving from Florence to Sinalunga in Tuscany and passed through Panzano in Chianti. A charming village-we parked our car and locked the doors. This was the only time that we were traveling in a car with luggage and we discovered when we reached Sinalunga that our luggage and backpacks had been stolen. Since Panzano was our only stop we know that it happened in the car park. Be alert. Not sure what else we could have done except back in against a wall making it more difficult. The good news and since then we had one American family and an Italian man who have found the back packs on the side of the road minus the electronics etc and gotten them back to us. Unfortunately we were left without clothes for our last 4 days. It was very disapppointing. We did have our cash, credit cards and passwords in our Rick Steves money belts.
Cary, NC USA Mon 06/04/2012
ATM scam in Rome
Used ATM near Spanish steps. Put in request for money, but nothing received. Got card back and did not think about it until I tried another ATM two days later. By then, my bank account drained of thousands.
Petaluma, Ca USA Mon 06/04/2012
Please be aware that the European Public Transit is by honour system and in many Countries, e.g. Italy, you have to validate your ticket. The transportation officer did his job and ignorance is no excuse. My husband visited the Milan Fair and purchased a ticket that did not include the Fair zone. Arriving there, the station was blocked off and every ticket checked, he and plenty other foreign visitors were caught and payed 70 Euros each. Was he angry? Yes, at himself for not paying better attention to the ticket vending machine. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, validate your ticket!
Frankfurt, Hessen Germany Tue 05/29/2012
Road Block Scam
We have just returned from travelling through Europe and I would like to share with others how we were scammed in Avignon (France.) We were driving through Avignon and were looking for our hotel via GPS when we came accross two converging roads blocked off by large boulders and also a car. We reversed out and were about to go around through the only through road available when the car was approached by a group of scruffy lookIng men. Instead of driving off through them we unfortunately stopped to ask directions, while we four in the car were distracted by the men (we now realise were gypsies)talking to us another of the gypsies quickly opened the cars hatch and took a piece of luggage (backpack.) It contained all our photo's which were on a small hard drive and also a notebook computer (the only time, unfortunately that the two were together in one bag.) it happened so quickly and quietly we were totally unaware, until the car beeped at us to warn the back was open. Our warning to others, be aware, make sure your central locking is on and be wary of who you stop to ask directions from. The French police were extremely unhelpful and thought it a great joke that we had been scammed so we don't expect much action from them, a serious warning to those of you planning a trip to Europe though.
Perth Western Australia, WA Australia Mon 05/28/2012
assaulted in prague by train police
Today was our first day in prague,we purchased a one day train pass bc we are only here until tomorrow, we did not know we had to validate the ticket even tho the purchase date said today. We were approached by 3 plain clothed men whom apparently were the train police demanding for800 kc each as we were being fined for not validating the ticket. They took our id (drivers license) and dragged us to an atm underground and assaulted my boyfriend by chocking him by the neck when he tried to take pix of the guy who took our ids from us and wouldnt give it back. We wanted to report them to the US embassy.the czech police came and were totally useless. Please beware in prague and try to avoid speaking eng loudly in public as were obviously targeted and discriminated. We are going to the US embassy tomorrow. This is total bullshit. We will never comeback to prague again.
stacy and tim
nyc, USA Mon 05/28/2012
Pre trip Euro purchase
I just bought some EUROS from Wells Fargo prior to a trip and noticed that they quote an exchange rate about 6 cents above the daily quote in the media. I checked my bank statements from my most recent trip a couple months ago and noticed that even at an ATM in Euorpe, I recieved an exchange rate within a couple of penies of the posted daily rate. Even with a $5 per transaction WF fee, this seems to be far better than buying the EUROS stateside. I still am of the opinion that one should have some EUROS handy once on the ground, but I will never again buy them stateside if I can help it. Even VISA gives you a decent exchange rate although they do charge a 3% fee on most of their cards.
Santa Rosa, CA USA Thu 05/24/2012
Pickpockets "Helping" Athens Metro users
From a friend riding the Athens metro recently, her husband had his wallet taken. They later realized how it happened...
"When we got off at Monastiraki Station, a guy was telling everyone to take the elevator as the escalator WAS busy and had a huge line. So 3 couples, all with suitcases, went to the elevator where two men were inside waiting to go to street level. When the 6 of us got onto the elevator, the two men shifted positions to accommodate us and our suitcases. But later we realized the two men didn't get off of the elevator at street level, saying they were going to a different floor. BUT...we didn't realize at the time, there were no other floors...just the station landing and the street level. We are still wondering if the other two couples got hit, too."
- As mentioned many times on these scams...watch out for people being a bit too helpful.
Böblingen, GM Wed 05/23/2012
Paris Metro Police
While exiting the Paris Metro at the Eiffel Tower station, our family for four was stopped by RER (Traffic) Police and asked for our tickets with which we had boarded. Three of us had them, but my 24 year old daughter had thrown hers away as it was a one trip ticket, and now defunct, as we had reached our destination. The agent demanded a 40 euro fine. We all explained our situation, e.g., how did we get on the metro in the first place(?), and even showed the agent many unused tickets, offering him one. He then pulled out his printed book of fines and showed us the 25 euro fine if you have an unused ticket with you. We tried to explain that if three of us had unused tickets already in our possession, why would we bother to cheat for one 1.2 euro fare? We tried to reason with the agent: we are a family from the US, enjoying his lovely city, going to the Eiffel Tower, not trying to cheat anyone...no luck. We had to pay the 25 euro fine right then and there, and how convenient the agent had a hand-held credit card machine with him, at one of the busiest tourist locations! We were entirely disgusted, and then watched him hit up the next American couple behind us. A lesson well learned: never dispose for your Metro tickets until you are certain you're finished with your travel. And yes, this practice is mentioned in many Paris guides. Duh.
chicago,, IL USA Mon 05/21/2012
TGV Bathroom Peep
Watch out women when riding the TGV. My group encountered a pair (old/young men) who somehow rigged the bathroom door to not close all the way. Woman walks in past old man who happens to be sitting outside the door. You shut the door completely and push the lock but the lock only goes halfway.You don't think much of it and continue. Suddenly, another man flings the door wide open before you can react.
Las Vegas, NV USA Sat 05/19/2012
Pickpocketed at the Prado! And yes, Rick warned me. The guidebook tells us to watch out for young girls, who resemble American college kids. Walking across the street, umbrella in one hand, Rick's guidebook in the other. A bunch of people bumping and pushing to get to the other side of the street in torrential rain. A moment too late I felt for my purse - and looked straight into the face of my pickpocket. By the time I looked down, she and her friend had disappeared into the crowd with $75. She was so adept at her "trade" that she had opened both my purse AND my attached change purse inside! Luckily my husband had my passport in his moneybelt - or the very first day of our 3-week Spainish adventure might have been our last.
San Mateo, CA USA Fri 05/18/2012
Train Station in Naples (May 2012)
My husband, son and I were about to board the bullet train from Naples to Rome (the week of 5/10/12) when a man asked my husband to see his ticket. My husband hesitated so the man said "don't worry, I work for the trains" (in English). My husband showed the ticket to the man and he proceeded to lead us to our seats. What we failed to notice at first is that the man did not have a uniform on. The man took us to our seats and demanded money. I said "no" and insisted that we could have found our own seats. He would not take "no" for an answer, so told him to go away "vado via", which he did while cursing me. (For the record, there were no officials on the train at the time although there were several passengers around us (all appeared to be Italian). It was very upsetting.
Karen and Bob Hendrick
Arlington, VA USA Tue 05/15/2012
Paris Metro Scammers
We took the RER from Charles de Gaulle to Paris Nord planning on changing to the metro to get to our hotel. The only way to buy metro tickets was through a machine which accepted credit cards or coins, no bills. We had euros, but no coins. We could not find any machine which accepted our credit card, each one gave the same message "cannot read card," but we did find lots of scammers who politely offered to purchase two metro tickets for us using their metro pass. The first scammer despite my telling him no bought two tickets and told me the cost was €28, we walked away only to be approached again by someone else who offered us two tickets for €12. The actually price for two tickets is about €2.6 We encountered several other persons who had just arrived and had the same problems using their credit cards. We left the station and took a cab for less than €8.
Tucson, AZ USA Mon 05/14/2012
Switzerland is Safe!!
Larry, et al. Re: Passports in Switzerland
Just carry your Passport when in Switzerland. Switzerland is probably the safest country in the world. I've lived here for over two years, and have never worried about my personal safety - be it having my pocket picked in the middle of the city or walking home late at night in my neighborhood outside of the city center. Locals actually "save seats" at busy restaurants with designer handbags. I think it's silly - but shows the low level of crime.
Zurich, USA Sun 05/13/2012
Paris CDG Taxi Cab Scam
My girlfriend & I just arrived in Paris at CDG on Saturday Apr 14. We were going to a timeshare near Disneyland Paris and I had ordered the TGV tickets online. We were standing at one of the elevators with our bags to go down to the trains. A guy in his 30's came up to us and said: "You probably didn't hear yet, but there's a train strike into Paris. You can share my taxi and it'll be cheaper for you." We were on to his game and we wanted him to move on, so we told him that we had our tickets and we were traveling to outside of Paris - to the east of it. So then he tells us that all of the trains are affected. My friend said that no, she wasn't interested. I said no thanks as well. He then tries to make it sound like one of us said ok, and the other needed to be convinced. Finally a very firm no from both of us sent him on his way.
Tinton Falls, NJ USA Sun 04/22/2012
Free gift scam
We had just arrived in Rome, checked our bags at the hotel, and went out to find a place for lunch. We hadn't gone 20 feet before an older man (60-ish) stopped his car to ask for directions. Said he was a executive for G. Armani, in town for a trade show, had a wife who worked for the consulate in Spain, and she was (surprise!) from our state of Massachusetts. He showed us a sales binder, and offered me a free G. Armani bag. My husband was immediately suspicious: the sales binder was old and worn, not something a G.Armani exec would carry, he had pulled his car to the curb in a way that we couldn't manuever around, and no one gives you something for nothing. He refused the bag, grabbed my arm, and we walked away. Mr. Exec drove off in a huff. His next line would've been to ask for gas money. I never saw it coming, but Pete had read RS' book and was ready.
donna & Pete
Haverhill, ma USA Wed 04/18/2012
Its no doubt helpful to read these accounts and have a general awareness that not everyone in Europe is looking out for your welfare, but it can be carried a bit too far when it interrupts your holiday due to excessive 'Scam Scare'.
I lived in Europe for years, traveled extensively and have never had the slightest difficulty: On the other hand I didn't go around making sure everyone understood I was an American tourist.
I've watched groups of gypsies gear up for a 'hit' on someone, and have observed pickpockets getting busted for choosing the wrong target and... I also understand that Rick Steve's sage advice to travel as a 'temporary European' is really something to pay attention to while traveling there. You don't make yourself as much of a conspicuous target Its travel camoflauge, making it difficult for scam artist by denying them a target rich environment. Its just plain smart to blend in whenever you can.
Honolulu, HI USA Fri 04/13/2012
Foreign exchange ripoff
I have just returned from Italy where I naively used FOREXCHANGE at the STAZIONE TERMINI in ROME to convert $500AUS and was slugged an enormous 19.7% commission fee, yes thats right 19.7%! Which added to the €4.90 fixed fee meant they "took" $100 out of my $500AUS. Be warned!
Australia Fri 04/06/2012
Dragged by handbag strap in Rome
An older petit family friend was injured in Rome several years ago (broken arm and bruises), while walking down a side street with her travel companions in broad daylight. Always safety conscious, she carried a very small amount of money in her handbag. Before leaving for Rome, she had purchased a new travel handbag that included a slash proof shoulder strap, which was worn across the body, thinking that it was a nice safety feature. She was walking toward the outside of the sidewalk with her friends, as a car approached from behind with two men. Apparently, while his friend drove down the narrow street, one of the men leaned out of the car window next to the sidewalk grabbing the shoulder strap of her handbag expecting it to break and then drive off with her money. Sadly, she was pulled off her feet and dragged down the sidewalk before the thief released the handbag and his friend drove off. Thankfully her friends were with her.
Dallas, TX USA Sun 03/25/2012
Last summer we travelled extensively through England and France. Paris was the only place we encountered scam activity, seeing the "ring" routine done twice on the Champs Elysee, the petition activity by the Louvre, and some gypsy asking for money in the train station where Eurostar exited in Paris. Had we not read these previous posts and Rick's tour books, we might have fallen into this. Kudos to all these postings that make us aware of the things that could happen to the uneducated traveler. Just be vigilant, we were traveling with 2 adults and two children and we made them aware of these situations without frightening them either.
Clearwater, FL USA Tue 03/20/2012
The reverse SCAM ! On a recent trip to Italy I took eight Iphones with me. Once each day I would target one of the most obvious scammers that approached me... and just before he/she had a chance to start their game I would thrust the Iphone of the day into their hands and plead with them to take my picture as I backed away - of course they immediately disappeared into the crowds with their windfall and I was free to enjoy the sites. So what is the reverse scam you might ask... the Iphones had been collected from friends and associates over the years after a each unit had met with a water obstacle and received irreparable damage !
Sydney, NS Canada Mon 03/19/2012
Pickpockets in Louvre
A lady we spoke with while waiting for the bus said she was pickpocketed in the Louvre at the very crowded Mona Lisa portrait. Beware.
Fort Worth, TX USA Fri 03/16/2012
Tricky Taxi Drivers
Finding a trustworthy taxi driver is quite the trick. The best option? Call up a recognized taxi company. But you definitely get overcharged about 50% of the time no matter where you are, your own country included. And if you know the route, that's best. If not, you have to rely on luck. If you do find an honest taxi driver, get his or her number and try it out a few times. If it all seems legit, good. If not, well, you move on. I still think that calling a taxi company is your best option though.
San Francisco, CA USA Thu 03/15/2012
Scam in Vienna
I was recently in Vienna, Austria one of the most beautiful European cities I have visited so far. My tour group had already bought tickets to see a concert featuring Mozart's work that evening but there were many vendors still selling tickets to the show. We thought this to be normal since it was a popular performance but then we noticed that each of the workers for one of the vendors tried to sell us a different ticket for that night at the same location at the same time. He said, "Here Lady Gaga ticket, cheap, at ......" and then he tried a different artists name with the same line to another friend of ours.
All I'm saying is, if you're going to buy tickets for a performance in a city be sure to buy it at the location or your hotel (sometimes they feature it). NEVER buy from the street vendors selling the tickets, no matter how legit they look.
corinth, TX USA Thu 03/01/2012
Drugged in Prague bar?
The other night a buddy and I were out drinking in the Zizkov neighborhood. Its where I live while I'm here as a student for the semester. After normal closing time we found our way into a non-stop that seemed alright - a little rough around the edges, but populated with nice enough looking folks - a couple at a table and both women and men at the bar. We sat in an adjoining room and received table service from the bartender, who was friendly. At no point were our drinks left unattended. At some point during our second round my buddy got up to use the bathroom and the bartender came over to the table, and after a second I realized he was propositioning me. I waved him off, telling him he had the wrong idea. He then walked off behind me and apparently directed my friend to a different bathroom than the one I had used previously, one through a well-lit room with a bed. When he walked out the guy was still in the room. He got back to the table and told me about the weird bathroom - I told him about the proposition and we decided to down our drinks and get the F out of dodge.
We're both big guys who can hold our own at a bar, and we apparently (according to my roommate, whom we awoke) we made it home fine and drank for another hour. The thing is, neither one of us have any recollection after deciding to leave the bar. I've been a bartender for a long time and frequently drink enough to kill an ox, yet the only times I have ever blacked-out involved combining alcohol with pills in my early 20s. The night in question was a complete black-out. The next day it took me about 12 hours to shake off the haze, and another 24 to begin to realize we were probably drugged. I brought it up to my buddy, and he agreed, and mentioned that he'd had a similar experience at another non-stop the previous week, one where he blacked out after leaving following an odd conversation with a local.
Most of the drugged stories here involve theft. I'm pretty sure that's not what this guy was after, and I wonder how common it is in the shady, seedy, and somewhat rough world of Prague non-stop bars. I feel like we dodged a bullet - but damn, was not expecting the smiling bartender in a populated place to be a predator.
I can't find any stories online of this sort of thing happening here, and I wonder if its more prevalent in this area than any other city with a seedy underbelly. I like adventure and a certain amount of risk, and I always keep my wits about me, but I'm wondering if I should avoid the non-stops all together. Anybody got any insight?
Prague, cz Wed 02/29/2012
TRAFFIC SCAM IN ROME
Mr. Michel Tiride Executive Vice President & President Hertz International 225 Brae Blvd. Park Ridge, NJ 07656
Dear Mr. Tiride:
On March 12, 2012, we rented a car from Hertz (#E8614942512) in Florence, Italy. On March 17, we drove into Rome and checked into the Hotel Trevi and immediately turned our car over to the hotel valet to park overnight at an off-site garage or so we were informed. The hotel charged us 50 Euro for the service.
Later, on February 20, 2012, I received a citation and request to pay a 101.41 Euro traffic fine from the Rome Police for "driving in a limited traffic area without authorization" at PST DI RIPETA VARCO No. 2.
The facts are these: 1. At no time while driving in Italy was I stopped by the police much less given a citation. 2. I was not in possession of the vehicle during the time of the infraction. 3. The Hotel Trevi valet had taken the car immediately upon our arrival in Rome and did not return it until we checked out the following morning to return to Florence. 4. I have no idea where PST DI RIPETA VARCO No. 2 is located. 5. By law, the police were able to obtain my personal information from the Hertz rental agency upon request although the hertz staff were aware of the scam tactics and had no proof of any violation. 6. There is no proof of any violation being issued and received by me.
Having lived in Mexico and El Salvador for ten years, I was immediately suspicious of a scam and Googled "Traffic Violation Scams Italy." I found this to be a common practice, especially in Rome and Florence.
What disturbs me most is that the Hotel Trevi, Hertz and the Rome Police were all complicit in this carrying out this tourist scam. I would expect Hertz to at least warn their customers about this possibility since you are directly complicit in staging the scam. I have, of course, no intention of paying the fine for this alleged violation and by the same token, have no intention of renting from Hertz on subsequent travels in the U.S. and elsewhere.
I am sure you are aware of this scam operation in Italy (and elsewhere, I'm sure) and am disappointed that you have not instructed your rental agents and franchise operators to warn their customers in advance that they may be subject to this scam.
Harvey Alexander Smith
Palm Harbor, Florid USA Wed 02/29/2012
Focus for safety
I became aware of someone a man walking parallel, apparently following me for quite a distance. I focused my camera on him and as soon as I did he sat and covered his face and repeated snapping pictures; he left the scene. It may be a good way to discourage some who may be targeting tourists.
Orange County, Ca. USA Mon 02/20/2012
Sacre Coeur Paris Petition Scam/Mugging/Attack
Been to Paris many times and have never encountered what happened this week. At the Sacre Coeur broad daylight 3.30pm came up the main front steps to be met by many of the bracelet/ring guys- a sharp no and they leave you alone. Enjoyed food etc at the top of sacre coeur and decided to go down the other side only to be surrounded by about ten Roma gypsey teenagers with their petitions, again a sharp no and I thought I would be on my way. Two of the girls grabbed me and twisted my arms behind my back trying to get me to let go of my small travel pocket bag and managed to go through my coat pockets and steal my iphone. They also attacked my twelve year old daughter who after I was attacked I had to pick her up of the floor- all very scary. These girls are animals. They are willing not only to pick pocket but to attack you. I am glad that myself and my daughter walked away with a stolen phone and bruises- it could have been alot worse. French police were very good and very understanding but told me this happens all the time. If you see these girls with their petitons walk/run in the opposite direction.
USA Sat 02/18/2012
AutoEuropa Insurance scam in Rome
February 16, 2012 Never rent a car from Auto Europa (i.e. Sicily by Car), certainly not at the Fiumicino Airport !!! On February 2, 1011 we rented a car from Thrifty.com via the InterNet. We picked up the car at Fiumicino Airport in Rome on June 2nd from Auto Europa (Sicily by Car), who is the subcontractor of Thrifty in Italy. Since I booked the car on my Gold AMEX, which states that they cover the insurance and the C.D.W., we refused to pay for the extra insurance, so they took a safety deposit of 1485.76 Eu. saying it would be returned, if there was no damage on the car. It was an old, banged up car with 18098 km on the odometer. The inspection sheet showed at least 15 scratches and dents, which were marked. Our inspection revealed at least another 15 scratches and dents on the car, which we also marked on the Inspection sheet, since no-one was around in the garage at 7:00 P.M, and then we drove away. Upon returning the car they said there were new scratches on the car and a stone chipping on the windshield. I knew about the stone chipping, which was very small and no cracks around it. It would have cost $50.00 to fix it in Toronto. But I knew nothing about the new scratches. Besides how can you tell new scratches, when there were already at least 20-25 on the car and half of them were not even marked by the rental agents on the inspection sheet? Nevertheless they refused to return the safety deposit amount. A month later a charge of Eu. 712.79 appeared on my AMEX statement by Auto Europa. Obviously they replaced the entire windshield and repainted the entire car body on my cost. Interestingly, the previously existing scratches did not bother them before! Since the Bill, they sent me later at my request, was an estimate, not a repair bill, I am almost certain, they never actually performed the repair. I strongly believe, after us the car was rented out in the same shape, as we returned it, perhaps they marked the stone chip on the windshield on the Inspection sheet. Eventually, after a lot of hassle, AMEX refunded the repair bill, saying that they are aware of this type of insurance scam, but would cost much more to contest it.
Toronto, ONT Canada Thu 02/16/2012
Paris apartment security deposit
I gave UsaParis, an apartment rental agency, $500 as a security deposit for our Paris France apartment. It was to be accounted for and returned within 30 days after we left. The apartment was left in perfect condition and no complaints of any damage were given. The rental agency refuses to return the money, account for it, or even respond to contacts. more than 5 months have gone by since we left the apartment.
Davis, CA USA Mon 02/13/2012
Heading back to Italy for the sixth time. I've learned so much about travel from the RS books and forum. We've been approached by scammers, and I've actually seen people pickpocketed but thanks to the info here I was not a victim. My advice, is to develop your "security" plan before you leave and then enjoy your trip. First off TRAVEL LIGHT especially if you'll be using trains and busses for your ground travel. It's not enough to BUY a moneybelt/travel wallet you have to actually USE it. Leave the bling back home. Make copies of all your travel documents including itineraires, reservations lodgings etc. Then email to yourself. Be aware of current scams in the areas where you'll be travelling. Learn some basic words and phrases in the language of the countries where you'll be travelling. It's not enough to BUY the Rick Steve's guide you have to actually READ it--then you'll know about validating train tickets and how the bus tickets work. Use common sense, don't leave your stuff unattended (much easier when you don't bring too much stuff). You don't have to ignore people, but be aware of the context-- if someone asks for directions move on, if someone wants to sell you something move on fast. If you find your personal space is being invaded move. I've found my daypack unzipped dozens of times after using the metro---apparently my bottled water, RS guide, fruit and rain jacket weren't that appealing LOL.
St Louis, mo USA Sun 02/12/2012
Scams in Cortona
My Italian grandfather would have been mortified, had he been along. In Cortona, just at the town hall, the ordered wine was barely better than vinegar....tourist wine ! We sent it back and they replaced it without a word.
Austin, Texas USA Wed 02/08/2012
Passport - Leave in the hotel safe!
LarryinColorado: That may be true in Switzerland, but it may not be either. I have traveled through Switzerland many times and only at the border in was I asked for a Passport. Of course you will have your passport on you at that time. But as far as walking around the cities or countryside, it is EXTREMELY doubtful you will be stopped and asked for a Passport at ay time. In the event of an emergency, I think it would also be extremely doubtful no one would help you if you had simply a photo ID (License) and/or a passport copy. As a matter of fact, I have exchanged Euros into Swiss Francs and the banks and exchange have always accepted a standard ID card or photocopy of my passport. As far as any other country I have traveled through, no one has every refused a photo9copy or other form of government ID, at leaset since 1989 when the iron curtain fell and inter-Schengen travel made borders invisible and then need for a constant Passport on you a thing of the past. You can take my advice ot leave it, but one thing I will tell you is that in 30+ years of constant travel for my job and working with other ex=pats who live and travelk within Europe, I have never once lost a passport or have been inconvenienced by the loss of mine. I cant say that about others I have traveled with, a few to the point of rearranging flights and spennding an extra night or two in a hotel whilst their passports were reissued at an Embassy. If you DO lose your passport because you stubbornly want to have it on your person, you better hope and pray you lose it in a city with an Embassy from your country.
Anyway, advice from an expert, take it or leave it.
Paris, France Mon 02/06/2012
Carry your passport? No!
I've lived in Germany and Italy for almost 10 years now, and have traveled extensively in Europe and I NEVER carry my passport, and I've never been stopped. If you get stopped, it's no big deal to explain it's in your hotel and the police are very welcome to come back with you and look at it. If I lose my other ID, driver's license, debit card-that's bad, passport can be catastrophic. If you read further down, you'll see how easy it is for people to rob you, and even if it's in a neck wallet it's still possible.
Landstuhl, Germany Mon 02/06/2012
I travel and work in Europe and in Asia. The US is the most competitive retail market in the world; almost everything, especially electronics and cameras, are cheaper in the US than abroad. Many companies 'dump' their products in America.
Don't be afraid to be a tourist. I can't blend in due to clothes, haircuts, etc. I'm a 'mark', but it isn't a problem if I take a few precautions. Airports and train stations (!) are crossroads of confusion. Try to scope out where you're going beforehand. Google maps (and street view) is worthwhile.
Just because someone speaks English doesn't mean they have your better interests in mind.
Check your vanity along with jewelry at the hotel. Fashion statements are always accepted as part of police reports. Nothing says 'rob me' like jewelry. Do you really need a watch? (You likely have a cell phone that keeps excellent time.) The bottoms of designer purses were made to be cut and their contents dropped into a shopping bag in a crowded area. Pickpockets nab fanny packs justs as easily as a purse.
Even in China I do not carry my passport; it, along with most cash, is in the hotel safe. The police know you're an American a mile away. (Put yourself in the extreme...If you were to get mugged and knocked unconscious, your purse, wallet, etc. would go with your attackers.) If you still want some ID, get a passport card: http://travel.state.gov/passport/ppt_card/ppt_card_3926.html. It's not a substitute for a passport, but it's legit ID.
McClean, VA USA Sat 02/04/2012
According to the US State Dept (travel.state.gov);
"In Switzerland it is expected that citizens and visitors carry an I.D. and/or a passport. Should the police stop you, and you are without an I.D., it is possible that you may be taken in for questioning"
The Swiss Post website has a list of acceptable identification. The only one US visitors are likely to have is a passport. It says nothing about a photocopy of the passport being acceptable, and that is unlikely, since real passposts now have a microchip with identifying information in them.
I don't know what other countries require you carry your passport at all times, but I think it is just common sense. Keep it on your person, secure, as in your money belt.
Littleton, CO USA Tue 01/31/2012
Naples Italy Camera Sale Scam
In Naples, Italy, a common scam is for a couple of guys to try and sell you a killer digital camera for a price anyone could not refuse. Yet, when the moment arrives to take the camera into possession, the second guy (with a big coat) switches his camera bag with one hidden from behind his back that has a big rock in it. The first guy will even ask you for an extra two dollars for coffee. After I found my rock, and chased them down the street, they had a car and driver waiting to leave me in the dust...$300 light.
Naples, USA Sun 01/29/2012
Never leave handbags/purses unattended!
J. Dubbs should have followed my advice listed only 2-3 days before losing her purse. I will repeat...NEVER ever leave a bag unattended, any place. Secondly, dont carry your passport around every place you go. Take only a photo ID, photocopy of your passport and leave the Passport in the hotel or a safe place, not on your person. Advice from a 30 year travel Pro.
Paris, France Sat 01/28/2012
Handbag stolen at Galeries Lafayette, Paris
I was shopping at Galeries Lafayette in Paris today, where I got my handbag stolen (wallet, passport etc.)
I was trying on shoes in -1 floor, where I set my bag down next to me (it was in the way). 5 seconds later when I was about to pick it up again, it was already gone.
Unbelievable...I didn't ever think a fancy department store was a place to worry about getting my purse stolen but apparently it happens ALL THE TIME. It is exactly the same sentiment I have and the fact that shoppers let their guard down, which makes Lafayette a great place for thieves. Don't EVER let your bag go and keep your guard up at places that you would otherwise feel relaxed.
Everyone knows to be careful in train stations and crowded metro buses - remember to add department stores (GALERIES LAFAYETTE PARIS) to your list while travelling.
Paris, France Fri 01/27/2012
No wonder you were a victim.
NEVER, ever leave a bag or expensive item unattended when traveling. That goes for Rome, Tokyo, New York or Melbourne. Also, that goes for in Churches, Airports, cafes, or Hotel lobbies. Sorry your kindle was stolen, but you asked for it.
Paris, France Wed 01/25/2012
Watch Out !
Be carefull, I was in Santa Maria de Vittorio today in Roma to see Bernini scuplpture... I was reading about it on my Kindle Fire.... then I set my bag down,,and walked away about 20 feet, I put .50 Euro and turned on light and took 5-6 photos.... when I came back to seat.... my Kindle Fire was gone !! I had noticed some seedy character in the church but I was so close to the bag, I though it was OK.... those few minutes I took my eye off it,,, guy grabbed the Kindle. I do know better but was a bit jet lagged... Be careful,, they're waiting and will take advantage in a church !
St. Thomas, VI USA Tue 01/24/2012
My wife and I went to Florence for the Holidays. On the Ponte Vecchio bridge. I was looking in a jewelry shop and felt hemmed in by shoppers, then I felt my wallet slip in my front pocket, I turned and a gentleman started appologizing profusely in English, and then promptly walked quickly off the bridge. Both in Rome and Florence we have spotted people (normal looking people) following us. Use the method from the movies, cross the street, stop at a window, they will stop they will cross. Usually there are several operatives in league with these people. I always carrying a camera, so I stop point it right at them and take a picture. They quickly loose interest.
Seattle, WA USA Mon 01/16/2012
Paris Metro to Versailles
I was on the metro from Paris to Versailles and my ticket worked. On the way back to Paris from Versailles the machines were malfunctioning because my ticket didn't work and a few tourists were struggling to get through as well. The doors opened and closed on their own. We went through the doors that stayed open. Once on the train a couple men dressed in uniform asked for tickets and they said me and my buddy's ticket weren't valid. There was another tourist next to me who had an "invalid" ticket. They said the fine is 25 euros. I told them I want to talk to the police and go to the U.S. embassy. They said if I don't pay 25 euros then it would be 55 euros with the police. They later said it would be 68 euros if I don't pay. I refused to pay and they asked for my passport. I told them I didn't have it and I am not paying because the machines in Versaille weren't working. They said we will go to the police at St. Michel. I said ok and they got off at the next stop which was nowhere near St. Michel. The guy next to me paid but me and my buddy didn't. At the time I thought it was legit but wanted to make some noise with the U.S. embassy so other Americans could be more alert and was willing to fight any fines if possible. Later on though I got the feeling it was all a scam.
San Diego, CA USA Wed 01/11/2012
Attentive US girl in Nice Train Station
While waiting for a train in Nice a young American woman starts chatting up our group of 6. She was scoping us out then as her partner walking the wrong way on the train as everyone entered with luggage went for my husband's velcro pants with his money(we had our money belts and he only had about E50 in the pocket) but husband pushed the fellow into a compartment, and the guy throws the money under the seat and as my husband went for the money he runs out as I yell Thief Thief after realizing what happened. Never get too too chatty with a stranger who just happens to start talking to you unless you have your valuables in a money belt. We usually can spot cons and have never been troubled but this was a first.
Philadelphia, PA USA Fri 01/06/2012
Champs Elysees Money Scam
I was walking on the Champs Elysees near the Arc du Triomphe when I was approached by a Chinese couple who appeared to be quite distressed. The man asked if I was American, did I speak English? I said yes, I did. The man proceeded to tell me that his wife had spotted a Louis Vuitton handbag at a shop across the boulevard, but the store would not take his money because they were Chinese. His wife was heartbroken, he was desperate. Would I please go in and buy the handbag for his wife? He had Euros and promised immediate reimbursement. This was a scam that I'd not heard of but caught onto right away. I was pretty obvious that he wanted me to buy a very expensive bag with my good money and rip me off by "paying me back" with bogus Euros. Needless to say, I said "No" and walked away. When I looked back they had targeted another American. Remember: if the story sounds wrong, looks wrong, and feels wrong it is wrong.
Port Townsend, WA USA Fri 01/06/2012
ATM scam in Paris
While at an ATM in Paris, the guy at the neighboring ATM asks you a question, saying he doesn't understand what his screen is telling him. Meanwhile he or his friend is taking the currency your ATM is dispensing. Moral: use only "single" ATMs, in an uncrowded area, and pay strict attention.
Denver, Colora USA Thu 01/05/2012
the ring trick three times in Paris near the Eiffel Tower and on Champs de Elisees on January 2010. Luckily they didn't steal anything from us. We started shouting out loud when the 3rd one approached us and the guy ran away as if taken by the devil.
Argentina Wed 01/04/2012