Unless you are a tough cookie hardened from years upon years of travelling, it is easy to see through the Bambi eyes and the baby gazelle gait when a person is new to a place. More importantly, it is easy for people looking to take advantage of someone’s poor innocence to see when a person is new to a place and is therefore vulnerable.
And though, inevitable as it may be to have human interactions showcasing your virtue when you ask for help and directions to the nearest gas station or the washroom, try to keep an eye out for people practicing time honoured scams around the streets, or your lovely grandma’s favourite watch will end up on uncle Bad Touch’s wrist;
Attraction is closed
It’s probably best if you keep a map on you at all times because in some countries like Thailand if you ask around for directions, a scammer may find you, tell you the attraction you want to go to is closed and promptly break into a rendition of I can show you the world and take you to an attraction they’re in cahoots with to get a profitable commission.
The Notebook, Ethiopia
You may end up meeting some brilliant entrepreneurs that you can’t really help but grudgingly respect while also despising them. See, they know you’re a soft mush on the inside. Practically a melted marshmallow. So while in Ethiopia, a sweet looking child may ask you to buy them a notebook and you obviously care about education so you do. Except once your back is turned the child will return the notebook, the shop will pay the child and the cycle shall repeat for every soft cored bleeding heart that pings that deceptive little cretins radar.
ATM helper, South Africa
This may occur in a lot of places where gullible tourists are found, but in South Africa it seems to be the most prevalent as it is one of their local time honoured scams. What they do is they find you next to an ATM machine and tell you that they can help you avoid the local bank fees like a Good Samaritan, because they know everyone hates that extra bank fees, everyone. Only you’ll realise you’ve been had when your account is drained to a husk because you let them scan your card with their card skimmer and entered your pin in front of them.
The worst bear hug ever, Bolivia
There are a few things worse than getting bad touched in a foreign country. Which is exactly what you need to look out for in the cramped, overcrowded streets of Bolivia, especially around the La Cancha. If you find yourself too distracted by the crowd and stall and the fares, you leave yourself open to what would be considered more straight out theft and assault rather than a scam. You may, in a moment of weakness, find yourself pressed against a group of muscular men; with your movement restricted they’d empty your pockets before the shock even wears off. So keep a constant eye out for easy escapes and open streets.
The helpless beggar, Everywhere
In almost every country, in almost every city you are going to come across a persistent beggar that will tell you their entire backstory, how many children they have in the hospital or if they are children, how many parents they have in the hospital. It is one of the most classic time honoured scams. Doesn’t matter whether you are in Dubai or Lagos. While it’s very important to help someone, it’s also important to know that many of these beggars are employed by illegal organisations. All their earnings go to these people who keep creating a bigger problem for a bigger income and if you help the wrong person even with the right intentions you may just end up funding this screwed up program.