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Safari Travel Blog

Travel scams

By Emma Hill | 22 Nov 2012
Travel Scams
Depending on where you travel to, scamming can be fairly common, especially in big cities. Travellers can be easy targets, but if you know what to look for then this can be avoided.

Gold ring

I Personally experienced the common gold ring scam, in which someone claims to find a golden ring in front of you and makes a massive fuss. In our case the woman gave it to us then asked for money, snatching it back and running away when we said we didn’t have any. At the time we didn’t think anything of it, we just thought she was a bit odd. However two days later a father and son did the exact same thing—this time we completely ignored it. Although common, this scam may be performed slightly differently. If you see this, just ignore them and pretend not to notice.

Chinese tea ceremony

Another infamous scam is the Chinese tea scam. In this young Chinese girls, who pretend to be on holiday or students, approach unsuspecting (usually male) travellers and ask if they want to experience ‘real’ Chinese culture at a traditional Chinese tea ceremony. Obviously most people travelling would want to fully experience the culture, so they go for the tea only to find the bill ¥200 rather than ¥2. The travellers make a fuss but reluctantly pay up. Little do they know that these girls are hired by the tea shop in the first place.

Unlicensed taxis

If you’re flying to your destination, watch out for fake airport taxis. It happens all too commonly when people jump into a taxi that isn’t official and end up paying an extortionate amount. Usually this is because they’ve taken a scenic route which, although costly, is not the worst thing to happen. Alternatively, they can hold your luggage ‘hostage’ and make you pay a ransom to get it back. To avoid this make sure your taxi is licenced (licence and photo should be visible),try to get a fixed rate, and never pay before you get there.


Another taxi-related scam is when the taxi driver short changes you. This is usually performed by them hiding the money you just gave them and swapping it for a smaller note, then demanding more money.  This can also happen in smaller shops, restaurants, etc. To avoid this, clearly state what money you’re handing them and mentally prepare what change you’re expecting before the transaction.

Out of gas

A common New York trick is the out of gas scam. For this, someone, usually with children, will tell you a sob story and ask for cash for gas to get to a funeral or wedding or suchlike. In this situation just say no, but if you do feel guilty you could always tell them you will if they walk to the gas station with you. The likelihood is this will make them scram anyway.

Jet skis

Asia’s jet ski scam is well known. People hire jet skis only to be later fined for apparent damages which they haven’t caused. Keep an eye on the organisers and see if they are trying to pull this scam on customers before you jump right in, and check the skis in advance.
Of course, all this doesn’t mean you trust no-one while away. Use your judgement and just remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

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