by Richard Dobbie
I’m not going to confess that I have been the victim of any of these scams and swindles, but sometimes we all let our guard down. Especially when we are travelling independently and we haven’t quite got into “travel” mode.
So read on and learn from the confessions of others. And if you would like to confess, send your story to scams and swindles and we’ll publish it on Travelsnapz.com (but we won’t reveal your name).
Airport Taxi Scam
Taxi Sir, Taxi?
You’ve just got off the plane after a six-hour journey, you have passed through customs and you are here at last! But tired. You just want to get to the hotel and have a rest, relieve the jet lag, and get ready for all the excitement of the three-week holiday that you have been thinking about and planning for the last twelve months.
Taxi Sir? You want a taxi?
Of course you want a taxi. He even offers to carry one of your bags! (Gosh, the taxi drivers are even pleasant here – this holiday is going to be fun!) Out of the airport we go, past the taxi rank and into the car park. Before you know it, the boot of the unmarked taxi has been opened and the bag that he was carrying has been thrown in, and he is helping to stow the others.
Is this a real taxi? you ask.
Of course, of course, very good taxi sir – where you go?
You relent, give him the name of the hotel, and you are screeching out of the car park. After a while your mind starts to operate again. You look around. No taxi meter! I think you’re in trouble.
Go on – ask him how much is the fare. Go on – do it. You are going to have to pay it anyway so you may as well know what you are up for.
How much for the trip?
How you pay, US dollar? . . . . Just fifty dollar sir, cheap.
So you’ve been caught. That’s $15 a kilometre. That’s about three months’ wages for the guy who sweeps the streets you’re travelling on.
Never accept the offer of a taxi from someone in the foyer of the airport – always look for the official taxi rank, even if you have to queue. The other people queuing are saving money too!
Long Lost Friend Scam
Ah, my friend, how are you? Are you having a good time in our city? Are you comfortable in the hotel? Where are you going now?
The questions come one after the other. You have met in the busy street not far from your hotel. You are just going for a walk. And you just seemed to bump into this guy who acts like he knows you quite well.
He sees the doubt on your face. Don’t you remember me? I’m on the desk at your hotel. Ah that’s where you’ve seen him. Well you could have been excused for not recognising him straight away; after all, they all look very similar in these foreign countries.
You move across to the side of the pavement to get out of the traffic. You spend a few moments chatting about where you have been and what you have done. It’s good to have someone who is interested that you can talk to – it is difficult sometimes to get to know the locals and that’s one of the reasons you travel independently, so you can meet the locals.
Can you do me a favour? My car has just run out of petrol and I came away without my wallet. Can I borrow $20? I’ll give it back to you when I see you in the foyer of the hotel next.
You’re taken aback – but this can’t be a sham – you will see him at the desk in the hotel and you are staying for a few more days, so you’re bound to catch up.
You will never see this guy or your $20 again. Well maybe you will if you stand outside some of the big hotels – he will be waiting there watching for someone else like you to come out!
Never lend money to people in the streets unless you can afford not to see it again. It won’t be long lost friend, it will be long lost money!
More Scams and Swindles
Read about the airport x-ray scam, the hotel tout scam and more . . . in Part 2 of this series on Travelsnapz.com. Go to Part 2
About the author:
Richard Dobbie is a travel photographer and writer. Find out more and see his wonderful photos on his website: www.travelsnapz.com