Drawing in millions of tourists annually, Europe is most definitely a continent worth exploring in its entirety. However, the massive influx of outsiders has a not-so-enticing side-effect as well that local authorities have to deal with: scammers (criminals, of course). The more touristy a certain location, the more likely you are to run into shady people and for this particular reason, we decided to bring the scam-awareness radar to Europe and list you the most common ways in which you can end up with a headache. Here are the top five scams that occur in Europe!
1. Pirate cabs and UBER drivers:
The problem with most central transport hubs in Europe is that they are encircled by pirate cabs: taxis that are either not registered (and thus illegal) or registered but driven by individuals who will go to any lengths to strip you of as much cash as possible. UBER, while quite prominent in the west, is lesser known as you head east. This does not mean that it is absent completely in Eastern Europe – it’s just that it is completely unreliable and time-wasting. Pirate cabs and pirate UBER drivers will take you on trips much longer than your fare would normally be and then extort you unrelentingly. To protect yourself, it would be best not to use cabs lurking near airports or train stations, but since we know that such an idea cannot always come to fruition due to large bags, we recommend that you always check your routes ahead via your smartphones. Oh, and never forget to urge the drivers to start their metres – if they do not possess one, DO NOT solicit their services.
2. The charity swindle:
Alright, so pay close attention to this one, for it is one of the most obnoxious acts ever to have been invented by humanity. Preying on the good-willing, certain individuals around Europe will stop people on the street asking for money so that it may in turn be redirected towards the purposes of charity. The big catch, however, is that the charity itself does not exist and the files that they’ll often hand you are professionally-crafted forgeries. Some of these nasty individuals will even hand you written receipts after you’ve given them your hard-earned cash (also forgeries with no actual purpose or function). The best way to avoid these people is to never talk to them when they approach you – just ignore them and walk away. While some street-charities are indeed genuine, the chance for you to get scammed is 90% (a 9/10 ratio) – and since there is no way to differentiate the two types, it is better to avoid these people if you are on a tight budget.
3. Catch this:
This scam is quite dated if we come to think of it but certain individuals in Europe tend to disagree. The swindle goes as follows: you’ll encounter an individual (both women and men practice this) holding something that looks “undroppable” (a porcelain something, a fake baby, etc). When you approach them, they’ll shout something (or not, your mileage may vary) and cast their items at you. In the case of a fake baby, it is human nature to instantly react and do your best to save its life (not knowing that it is a doll). When you make the move, however, the scammer dashes at you while your hands are full and rip off your purse or snatch your phone. By the time you realise what has happened, the scammer will be long gone. The best way to avoid this is to always keep a close eye on people looking suspicious and holding items that do not belong in the scenery. Note that the fake baby is the most used item by these types of criminals.
4. Photo scam:
There are multiple ways in which you can get scammed when photos are involved but this one is quite possibly the most innocent-looking one. A makeshift family or a couple walks up to you and asks you if you are willing to take their photo. While you are wholeheartedly invested in the mission, their accomplice will sneak up to you from behind and rid you of your valuables. This is a well-known pickpocketing scam as they always require some sort of a distraction.
5. Phone theft:
This is a classic and it is extremely widespread in Europe. Tourists who are unaware of this scam should pay close attention as altruism does not always serve the forces of good. A person will approach you and tell you a wacky story about how he or she must contact someone urgently but is unable to do so due to twisted circumstances. Subsequently, they will ask you for your phone for a quick call. If you decide to hand it to them, they will make a run for it and it is bye-bye for you. Note that this scam is often performed on overburdened tourists as they have a decreased chance to outrun the thieves.
Did you enjoy our list? What scams have you witnessed in Europe and what solutions have you found for them? Tell us all about it below in the comment section and make sure to check back from time to time for some exciting new updates and content! Always be wary and informed! Stay tuned!