The most common holiday scams encountered in the UK over the last 2 years are:-

1. Pickpockets

Generally, city centres are the most likely places where you find pickpockets, but also in tourist spots, busy high streets, crowded underground trains etc.  Often they work alone, but sometimes in teams that tend to strike when you are distracted. So, they create deliberate distractions. This may be an accomplice drops something that looks valuable or something that breaks and they make a scene over it.

It could be a setup such as an accomplice offering to take your photo or help in some other way.

Stay alert especially in busy places and keep your cash safe and secure. Ideally use a money belt or similar hiding place and only have a small amount of currency in a wallet that could be pickpocketed.

One trick seen worldwide is that an accomplice will spill something on you in the street that may look like bird poop. They will attempt to help you clean it off but the pickpocket is trying to get any valuables from you while distracted. 

2.         Moped Gangs

This a recent problem where young men on mopeds target someone with an expensive looking phone or watch, ride onto the pavement, grab the item and ride off as a gang.

They sometimes use uncalled for violence to get what they want quickly and sometimes demand the unlock code for the phone.

Don’t stand out – with an expensive mobile phone on show and do notice if there’s a gang of people on mopeds hanging around. 

3. Fake Designer Goods

There are fake designer goods everywhere you go in the world and the sellers generally operate in groups with lookouts for the Police so they can move on rather than get caught. If you choose to buy fake goods that is up to you but don’t expect to find great bargains on these temporary market stalls – the items are likely to be either stolen or fake.  Designer handbags, perfumes and clothes and are the most commonly faked. 

4. Fake Theatre Tickets

In central London and some other cities you will find half price theatre booths selling bargain tickets. These are genuine and are supported by the theatres as a way of getting unsold tickets out quickly to the public.

But there are also touts hanging around near the theatres selling ‘bargain’ tickets and these are more likely to be fake.

If you get stopped by someone with a sob story of why they can’t use their theatre tickets and have to sell them to you at a ridiculously low price – don’t fall for the scam. 

There are sometimes touts selling cut price travel tickets but these are very likely to be fake. Only buy travel tickets from authorised sellers.

5. Fake Auctions

These are usually held at retail units near tourist attractions or sometimes in legitimate markets where seemingly high value items such as mobile phones, computer devices and other electronics, are auctioned at a low price. There is normally a gang involved with scammers pretending to be clients getting the best bargains early on to attract more customers.  You may win but the item is likely to be damaged, second hand, lower quality or just different from what you expected.

6. Beggars

There are beggars in almost every city across the world. It is best not to give money as it can lead to you being harassed for more and begging can be used as a distraction for pickpockets.

Some beggars just ask for money but many have sob stories to try to embarrass you into giving them more.

The story may be that their car broke down and they have no money to get home or were mugged and hence have no money for transport or are homeless and need money for food.

There are, of course, many people trapped in such circumstances who don’t want to rob anyone but it can impossible to tell the difference between those people and the professional beggars who regard it as a lifestyle choice and an easy way to make money, especially from tourists.

Some beggars offer you their contact details and want your address so they can return the money. Do not give your name and address to anyone on a street.

7. Fake Charity Collectors

There are sometimes a lot of charity collectors on the street and almost all are genuine but there are some people who see charity collecting as a means of collecting for a good cause but then keeping the money for themselves. There are also a few people who create a charity organisation and collect money but then keep most of it for themselves – under the guise of admin costs etc.

8. Fake Waiter Scam

In the summertime, if it’s warm enough it can be pleasant to sit at tables outside the restaurant or bar. Some scammers dress to look a little like a waiter or waitress then when you are finishing your meal, approach you and ask for payment. But you need to be sure that person is a genuine waiter or waitress and not just a scammer or you won’t see your credit card again.

9. Single Men Targeted

A pretty girl asks you to go to a bar with her for a drink.  The bar will turn out to be off a quiet side street and you may enjoy the drinks but the price will be extortionate and the bouncers will insist you pay. This is immoral but not illegal so the Police will not be able to get your money back.

 10. Back of a Van Scam

The scammers may be wearing a company uniform. They would approach you and explain that due to some corporate error (e.g. over-ordering by a customer, computer error etc), they are now left with sets of expensive cutlery or watches or designer jewellery or clothes etc. which they need to clear today. So they can offer you a bargain price.

These are not bargains as you will find if you buy and take home.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-wasters do let me know – go to the About page then Contact Us.


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