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Top 10 Sneakiest Holiday Scams
Most people think that holidays are all about drinking cocktails, dive-bombing into swimming pools and generally having an ace time. They’re wrong.
Holidays are about survival. A good holiday is one where you manage to make it back home without having been mugged, conned or murdered.
The most effective way to achieve this is to NEVER go on holiday – prevention is the best cure. The second best way is to HIDE in your hotel room and avoid all forms of human interaction.
But if you are one of these gung-ho travelling types who insist on breaking cover then you need to study this guide to the sneakiest, most weasliest holiday scams out there – these are scams which are used every day of the year against people like you.
So hold on to your wallets, kids – we’re going in!
1. The Bird Crap Scam
Most holiday scams involve tourists being crapped on in some way but this one takes things literally. You will be walking along when you feel something splatter onto your back. A passer-by sees what’s happened and points at the horrible globule of bird poo on your coat.
Thankfully this kind soul has some tissues and a bottle of water which they use to wipe away the foul smelling white goo. You thank them as they walk off, thinking just how brilliant humans can be sometimes – that is, until you check your pockets and find your wallet and mobile phone has been nabbed.
The way this works is that an accomplice uses a syringe to squirt the fake ‘bird poo’ substance onto your back while the scammer uses the close-contact of the clean-up operation to pickpocket valuables. The same kind of con is done using various types of nasty globby substances: tomato sauce, mustard, oil, dirty water etc.
2. The Scratch Card Scam
You are approached by a respectable looking person who hands you a free scratchcard and the chance to win a luxury holiday. Yeah, like that’s really going to happen.
Scratch. Scratch. Scratch. Wahoo! You’ve only gone and won. And to claim the luxury holiday you just need to attend a presentation which is being held in the resort.
This is when your scam detector should start rattling off the wall because there are dozens of other ‘winners’ who turn up at the presentation. In fact, everybody who has been handed a scratchcard has also ‘won’.
And your prize isn’t a luxury holiday; it is to spend the next five hours being battered with high-pressure sales techniques by a bunch of rat-faced dickheads in cheap suits who try to make you buy into a worthless ‘holiday club’.
3. The Bogus Taxi Scam
Your flight lands, you grab your luggage and find yourself stood in the airport concourse. You’re now officially ‘on your hols’. But you’re tired and frazzled and just want to get to your hotel. At that very moment a friendly man glides into view with a trolley for your luggage and the offer of a nearby taxi. Champion!
And the next thing you know your face is on the front page of the local newspaper alongside the story of how you were robbed and brutally murdered by the driver of an illegal taxi – which is a shame.
Okay, so that’s the worst case scenario; but using an illegal cab is a tried and tested way of getting ripped-off: extortionate fares, theft of luggage etc. You’re much better sticking to the official taxi ranks like carhire.org.
4. The Gold Ring Scam
We can thank our Parisian friends for this beauty. You see a person bend down to pick something up. They turn to you holding a shiny golden ring and ask if you have dropped it.
The way this scam plays out depends on how you answer. If you are nasty, you may pretend it is yours and will be offered it – for a small finder’s fee. If you are honest you will be given an emotional story to explain why you should have it – in return for a small payment.
Whichever way this goes, the end result is the same. You get a worthless brass ring. The scammer gets some of your money.
5. The Airport Scanner Scam
You’re queuing to go through the metal detector at the airport. You’ve put your valuables into the black plastic dish and sent it trundling towards the X-ray machine.
The man in front of you passes through the detector, the alarm goes off. He then takes ages faffing around, checking and double-checking his pockets, until he eventually finds a coin – bloody idiot. You follow him through and collect your tray on the other side but… your valuables are gone.
The bumbling Mr Bean act is used by the conman to buy time for his accomplice on the other side to nick your stuff and disappear. This scam is a particular problem in airports, like those in America, where people are allowed in and out of the departures area.
6. The Holiday Rep Scam
You’re on a day trip as part of a package holiday and your rep offers to show you some of the best places to shop. These are the resort’s best kept secrets where you will find genuine bargains, they say.
So you are herded into a shop with the comfort of knowing that the coconut carved into a gorilla which you have just bought is a brilliant bargain. As you are hurried back onto the coach you don’t notice that the shelves of most shops are heaving with coconut gorillas – and at much cheaper prices.
The tour guide’s recommendations are not based on local knowledge but on the amount of commission they receive from the shop owner to bring gullible tourists into their lair. Just remember – holiday reps are evil.
7. The Hotel Reception Scam
It is way too early in the morning and you are woken by a call from hotel reception. They are having a problem processing a payment and need to verify your credit card details. In a bleary-eyed haze you mumble out the numbers before rolling over and returning to the arms of sleepy land.
But for the scammer, who you have just given your details to, there is a busy day ahead as they try to use your card to rack-up payments which will dwarf Greek national debt.
8. The Nibbles Scam
You spot a nice restaurant and go through the usual holiday menu checklist. Ridiculously cheap? Check. Photographs of food? Check. Chips? Check.
So with all boxes ticked you grab a table and find yourselves warmly greeted by a waiter who slips a basket of bread things in front of you. Complementary nibbles – nice.
You start casually picking away at the bread while deciding what to have with your chips – and you, my friend, have just been poked with the scam stick. Because when you pay the bill you will find that those nibbles weren’t free and actually cost some money.
Okay, so this isn’t the most heinous of scams in the grand scheme of things…but it’s still a bit annoying.
9. Hire Car Scam
It’s the end of your hols. Your flight home is in the early hours so you leave the hire car outside the company’s car park and drop the keys into a box. You have been driving it in the style of an elderly vicar with piles to ensure there is absolutely no damage. So what could possibly go wrong?
A couple of weeks later, while watching your suntan disappear, your credit card bill arrives and shows a payment to the hire car company for ‘damages’ – usually a dink or scratch. If you complain about this payment you are likely to get it reduced but the amount of hassle involved means most people just accept this fictional damage.
Best way to guard against this is to get the car checked when you drop it off and also take photographs of it before and after use.
10. The Compensation Scam
You are making your way through a crowd and brush past somebody who acts like a Premiership striker in search of a freekick. They stagger back dramatically with their sunglasses being knocked to the ground.
They pick them up and start shouting and gesticulating as they show you a nasty crack on the lens. You shrug your shoulders but it only makes things worse as they become more hysterical and start demanding compensation for the damage.
As more people are drawn to this piece of street theatre you realise you have been cast in the role of baddie. You just want it to end so hand over a few notes. The sunglasses were, of course, already broken before they hit the ground. The same scam is done with various objects being dropped and hysterical requests for compensation.
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