Since tourists are apt to be easily confused and gullible they attract not only businessmen sensing a profit but also criminals sensing a quick and easy route to lots of cash.
There is often only a fine line dividing the two and sometimes they blend together. Overcharging taxis are a fine example of this. Travel scams often take a more subtle form than straightforward robbery, although the effects are the same and just as disheartening for the victim.
1. The Cash Machine Scam
Some scams are universal, while others tend to occur primarily in one area. An example of the universal scam is installing a card reader and a camera on legitimate cash machines and then using the card details to empty the bank account. This is in effect a technologically advanced version of cash point robbery with the minor benefit for the victim that it removes the threat of violence. Almost all cash machines these days have devices to protect against such tampering and users should always be aware of their surroundings when using them.
2. Bar and Restaurant Scams
A scam which I have heard of mainly happening in Turkey is the overpriced restaurant or bar. This usually involves a friendly individual approaching the victim and inviting them to have a drink or get some food. They go to a bar or restaurant and are soon joined by a couple of young ladies. When the bill finally arrives it transpires that not only was the victim paying for the drinks of the entire group but also that the bar has charged a literally extortionate price for each drink. If the victim is unlucky enough to have a large amount of money on them at this point then they could be in trouble, but many people have escaped by going to a cash machine, with one of the gang, and then finding a policeman on the way.
3. The Gem Scam
The gem scam is one more prevalent in Asia and is interesting in that it appeals to the greed of the victim. The premise is that while browsing through a gem store the victim will be approached by someone who recognises their business acumen and financial competence. The scammer will then explain a scheme whereby he wants to export gems to the victims homeland but has been unable to get a permit to do so. If the victim pays the scammer a small percentage of the total value they can transport the gems and sell them for their real value when they get home. If they are lucky this could be a standing arrangement. Needless to say the gems are worthless and the small percentage is actually a large scam.
4. The Closed Hotel Scam
The closed hotel scam is popular in many parts of the world. This is where a visitor arriving in a town is told that the hotel where they have booked a room is closed, but luckily enough the taxi driver knows somewhere just as good, if not better. Of course the new hotel is extremely expensive and the driver is getting a fat cut.
This is just a taste of the many and varied scams out in the wide world, although it gives you an idea of the recurring themes. I would be very interested to hear further examples people may know of.