Yay, we go to Paris tomorrow! Finally we can go together on holidays, the last time we went anywhere (if you don’t count Hong Kong in December, since Sing still had to work over the phone/computer) was in May 2014.
It’s a really spontaneous trip, we were eating a meal together and I said ‘Let’s go to Dublin next weekend, have some dim sum and bubble tea’. And by the time we went back home, we decided to go on a 4 days trip to France. I got so excited, I had to share that news with you guys. At that point I was warned exactly 7 times to watch out for my belongings and scam artists.
To be honest with you, I’m that sucker who would probably go for it. Have a poor guy, give him a dog and I can give my wallet to him. Luckily, Sing is more rational than I am. And it all dates back to the first time we went together to Asia. We planned to visit Hong Kong, Thailand, China and Singapore so he kept showing me videos or informing me how foreigners fall for scams. Luckily, besides two of them, we did not experience any other scams and we didn’t lose any money or limbs, which was nice.
So to help you to not be THAT tourist we gathered the most common scams and hopefully non of you will ever have to face, any of them.
1. Fake monks
First I heard of them from my husband, then I was approached by them close to Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery (萬佛寺) in Hong Kong. I was later informed that it happens all around the world. The most ironic thing is, the ‘monk’ approached me, my husband pulled me away from him and 100m later showed me a sign saying that real monks don’t ask for money. So when I saw them in San Francisco, near Chinatown, I wasn’t scared to warn approached people.
You can also check out Facebook page called ‘Fake monks in Hong Kong’ (click here).
Comes in many variations, a beautiful girl approaches you just to take you to the bar and get a commission from the extremely expensive drinks you buy there or something similar. Of course when the bill shows up, the girl is nowhere to be found. Sing was once approached by a girl, but he told me ‘C’mon, I know it was fake. She was like 12 in 10-point scale, when I’m solid 4.’
I guess his harsh realism saved him some money.
3. Fake police
Sing was terrified when we drove in Thailand, since there was a white foreigner in the car (hard to guess who that was) and it just screamed with ‘Scam us’. Luckily no one approached us, but we heard stories of people stopped by a fake policeman, he or she will ask you for your documents and pretend there’s something wrong with them and won’t give you them back. Then they say that if you pay them, they will let you and your documents go. Sadly, I don’t know how you can avoid it, I guess the best thing you can do is check online the police badges of the country you visit and when approached by a policeman, you just ask to show the badge first.
4. The gem scam
Similar to online scam from ‘American soldier who found gold in Iraq‘. Locals will befriend you, then they will tell you about great investment opportunity with cargo full of precious gems that are worth so much money, when they are sold in foreign countries. But poor local person cannot afford to pay taxes and shipping… you can figure out the rest of the story. DON’T GIVE ANY MONEY, IGNORE THE REQUESTS, GO AWAY FROM A FAKE FRIEND. End of the story.
Pic from southeastasiabackpacker.com
5. The Tea Ceremony
I think this one would be popular in China, especially around people like my parents who want to ‘experience like locals’ (although my dad still think orange chicken is a real thing). It starts in a different ways, you might be approached by someone and invited directly to a tea house or as a ‘return of favor’ for taking a picture or something. You taste different samples, you might be forced to buy the one you liked the most, but in the end, even if you don’t buy anything, you will be left with a 500-700RMB bill.
6. Shopping tour scams
I don’t know if that’s really a scam, but I know it’s a thing in China. There are plenty of cheap travel tours, that end up in a jewelry shop or souvenir store and for some reason people agree to be to forced to buy something for ‘good price’. Momzilla was on one of those tours with Sing’s outside oldest cousin. She yelled to people that they shouldn’t buy it, it’s a ripoff etc. Guess who got kicked out of the tour?
You don’t mess with Momzilla.
7. Immigration office scam
This one is really disgusting and I’m still wondering how no one does anything about it. When you travel from Thailand to Cambodia, immigration officer says he or she won’t accept the 20 dollars official fee even if it’s clearly written on the office wall. They will try to make you lose your patience and just give them twice much. Our friend who has a Filipino wife says he always puts 10-20$ in his passport while crossing the boarder.
I can understand all the scammers on the streets, but doing the same thing when you’re a government official? What the hell? Anyone experienced it?
There are many, many types of scams. It’s so sad, but I hope this post will help you in avoiding most of them.
I also found this great infographic with scams around the world, but I want to add to the ‘Friendship bracelet’ scam that it might turn much worse than just asking for money. I heard of version that they put it on your finger then few men appear and force you to go to the nearest ATM and withdraw money for them. Please be careful everyone!
Have you ever been scammed or someone tried to scam you? What other techniques of scamming you’ve heard of? Let us know, so we can all be safe and happy during traveling 🙂