11 Unsuspecting Travel Scams That Caught Travelers by Surprise

Imagine yourself in a new city, ready to explore, take in the sights, and experience something new. As you peacefully enjoy your “once in a lifetime” moment, you realize all of a sudden that something is not quite right—you’ve been scammed! Unfortunately, this is something that happens to travelers all over the world every day.

What Does That Look Like?

Traveler displeased tourist woman in casual clothes hat camera showing thumb down dislike gesture isolated on green background Passenger travel abroad on weekends getaway. Air flight journey concept
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From airport taxi drivers charging outrageous fees to locals trying to make a quick buck, travelers have fallen victim to some of the most cunning and deceptive scams, as revealed in a popular online forum. Here are 11 of the biggest “Wait a minute, this is a scam” moments experienced by travelers around the world.

1. Border Shenanigans: Getting Robbed Legally

robbery Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Upon reaching the border from Thailand to Cambodia, one person mentions being asked to fill out a form and pay a $5 entry fee. Just as they were filling it out, a guard grabbed the quarter-filled form, took the ‘fee,’ and went their merry way. Definitely nothing suspicious here!

2. “It’s a Gift!’

simple gift
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One forum user recalls her time in Pompeii, where an older woman in the bathroom cornered her. This elderly lady forcefully put a bracelet on the user’s hand and demanded money. That is one way to sell your product!

3. A Costly Friendship

holidays, friends, bachelorette party, nightlife and people concept - three women in evening dresses with microphone singing karaoke over night club disco lights background
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Here’s a tip: Don’t follow strangers to unknown locations, especially in a foreign country! For example, a couple narrates walking on the streets of Cuba when they meet with two locals. Having found themselves in an engaging conversation, the folks decide to go clubbing with them. Unfortunately, afterward, they followed the locals into a house and were pushed to buy cigars for a whopping $60!

4. Milked for Kindness

powder Milk Image Credit: Shutterstock.

One individual narrates being approached by a woman pleading for powdered milk for her baby. Out of kindheartedness, he agrees to walk with her to a local store and purchase it, only to find many such women later. The motive? Getting higher sales.

5. The $20 Pearl Jam Scam

crowd at concert - summer music festival
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A smooth-talking con artist scams one person in San Francisco by claiming to sell him Pearl Jam concert tickets for only $20. After waiting over thirty minutes in the lobby, the man realized the scammer had danced away with his cash. Safe to say, no concert was attended.

6. Dental Work for Tequila Shots

Cute girl using dental floss Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Once upon a time in Mexico, two lovebirds found a waiter self-inviting himself to their evening hangout. They downed a couple of shots with him to get him out of the picture. Skip to 3:00 am, and they find him banging on their door.

What for you may ask? Dental work for the tooth that fell out due to the shots. Be wary of whom you drink with, or you may end up paying for their dentist!

7. When Vending Machines and Ticket Agents Gang Up

Vending Machine Image Credit: Shutterstock.

A father and son duo got conned by a vending machine in Prague. They inserted coins in it multiple times in exchange for subway tickets, but in vain. The result? Getting rejected by the ticket agents while every local got to hop in!

8. Heist Turns Fashionable

Backpacker packing for his trip
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Elnur

A Japanese couple found themselves staying at a pleasant hammock hotel in Colombia. Not only this, but they came across a friendly hammock neighbor. Fast forward to the morning after, and they realize he ran away with their backpacks. Not to worry, though. The thief only got himself a bunch of ladies’ clothes.

9. From Tour Guide to Tour Greed

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Another forum user mentions being forced into an unsolicited tour guide. What started as an ‘I will take anything’ soon turned into ‘Give me $200’. Yikes!

10. Pity Party

Bored Girlfriend Waiting for her Date in a Restaurant. Unhappy young woman sitting at an anniversary party event Image Credit: Shutterstock.

One forum member recalls being urged by a man for help while on vacation. He complained about being robbed by a local and requested money. After handing out a $20 bill, she soon realized he was peddling the same story to others.

11. Damages That Don’t Exist

Woman checking in hotel
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A young couple on their college spring break shares a story of how they were forced to pay a $50 damage fee. When they returned to the resort they were staying in, the key to their room suddenly stopped working and a “repair guy” told them that there was a problem inside. And voila, after fixing the door, the guy showed a cheap plastic trash can in two pieces and demanded we pay for it. The same thing happened to a room down the hall where a different guy was claiming a kid broke a chair leg.

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