24 Most Common Tourist Scams in Italy

Rome, Florence, Venice, Sorrento, Positano, Taormina, Naples, Milan, Turin, Palermo, Bologna, Genoa, Verona, Pisa, Catania, Syracuse, Cagliari, Perugia, Padua, Siena, Leece, Bari


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Besides being home to the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites globally, Italy also offers delicious cuisine, trendy fashion, jaw dropping coasts, lakes, mountains and many more! A tourist mecca it is indeed, and one that every tourist must visit in one’s lifetime.

Unfortunately, the rise of tourism has also brought about a bunch of scammers to the country who target tourists for their valuables. Read on to learn how to protect yourself in this beautiful country!



1. Fashion guru asking for petrol money

There have been many reported cases of this scam, where a well-dressed man who speaks English approaches you while in his car. It could be for any reason, such as asking for directions or making a random comment. He will also ask where you are from and surprise, he has a friend/relative/family member there as well! This is a standard tactic to build rapport and gain trust.

Next, he lets you in on his big secret. Actually he is a manager at Giorgio Armani/Versace/Calvin Klein or what have you! He shows you some of the latest designs of the season, and proceeds to hand you a coat or even a bag as a gift for telling him the directions.

However, he claims that his car is running out of petrol and asks if you could spare him some money. It can be a preposterous amount from €50 to €200, yet many victims still fall for it!

There are actually other countries with this scam, but in different versions (e.g. USA, Netherlands).

Rule of thumb:

If someone tries to offer you a suit or something that sounds too good to be true on the streets, it is. Nothing is ever free.


2. Gypsy groups 


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Not exactly a tourist activity per se, but these gypsy groups tend to hang out around popular tourist spots. And you will find them all around Europe. They beg, they distract and then they steal, so do be wary of them. They used to be a common sight around the Colosseum in Rome, though that has improved with the clamping down by the authorities.

Also, they tend to be women or kids as tourists are likelier to let their guard down when facing them. There’s more to it than meets the eyes though, as they do have adult/male accomplices lurking ahead.

Another very effective trick which they use is the baby toss. As the name suggests, a doll resembling a baby, wrapped up in a blanket is thrown at the victim. While the victim panics and catches the “baby”, the gypsy and her accomplices grab/pickpocket the victim’s valuables.

Rule of thumb:

Stay far away from them.


3. Rome gladiators 

Rome gladiators

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The latest update as of November 2015 is that these charlatans have been outlawed. These are simply people dressed in gladiator costumes found at the Colosseum. Do not take photos of them, as you will be hounded for tips.

Rule of thumb:

However, if you don’t mind paying 10 Euros for memory’s sake, why not?


4. The string/bracelet scam

This is not as common as in France, but still found at a number of tourist areas such as the Spanish Steps in Rome.

What they do (normally Africans) is they will ask if you want a “friendship bracelet” or “friendship ring”. If you say yes, they will tie it around your wrist/finger in a way that makes it impossible to remove. They will then demand money from you. The more ruthless ones will gather some of his accomplices, bring you to the nearest ATM and threaten you to withdraw everything inside.

Another variation is that these scammers will first engage you in a conversation. They then ask if you want to see a magic trick. Before you know it, they would have skilfully tied a band around your wrist or fingers.

More creative scammers will approach couples and offer the band to the lady for free. Should the lady accept, another will pop out to offer the man. Since it is assumed to be free, the man generally accepts as well. But once you do, good luck as they will begin hounding you for payment.

The most ruthless ones will tie the friendship band and while distracting you, an accomplice will appear out of nowhere to steal your  valuables.

Rule of thumb:

When they approach, say no and keep walking away. If you are alert and have spotted them from a distance. Keep your hands well hidden in your jacket or somewhere.

For females travelling alone, watch out as they tend to target this group of travellers.


5. Pickpocketing

There are too many variations to list here. However, the modus operandi is always the same. They work in pairs, one distracts, one snatches and when the deed is done blend back into the crowd. Here are some common scenarios to watch out for:

a) Pickpocketing on trains/buses. The standard tactic is for someone to suddenly stop in front of you. His accomplice then swoops in from the back. Common areas of striking are for instance, bus lines 12/13 to Piazza Michelangelo and 7 to Fiesole.

b) Gypsies doing unusual things, such as breastfeeding a baby in an exposed way to catch your attention.

c) Tourist locations/busy streets. Stranger approaches to ask for help with a survey. Or it could be something as simple as a street game/exhibit. The Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence is a well known spot for pickpockets.

d) Gypsy pizza. Gypsy girls present a pizza box (or can be anything really) under your nose. This blocks your vision below and their accomplices will swoop in for your wallet.

e) Spill/puke: liquid is spilled on you, and someone offers to help you clean up even if you reject. Your belongings are then easily swiped as you will be caught off guard. Recent reports are that a harmless looking old man will usually offer to help.

Rule of thumb:

If you want to avoid becoming a victim, stay alert especially in busy places and keep your cash safe and secure. Only carry small amounts of cash around with you. Avoid carrying the purse or wallet in the back pocket. Also, use a spare walletmoney belt or anti-theft bag to further protect yourself from pickpockets.

Further, keep most of your valuables and passport in the hotel safe. Carry around a photocopy of your passport instead. Also, consider using hotel safety tools such as a hotel safe lock or door jammer to further strengthen the security of your hotel room.


6. Fake luxury products

Well, this definitely isn’t something unique to Italy. However, what is unique is that if you are caught with this, you can be charged with a €10,000 fine! Good news is that these fake products are easily spottable.

Rule of thumb:

Fakes are usually found on the streets and with too good to be true prices. Check out the reputable places to buy at instead.


7. Rose scam

Rose scam

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This same scam is common in France, where ladies with their husbands/boyfriends are usually targeted. What happens is that the scammer will compliment your looks and then pass you a rose.

Should you take it, he will hound your husband/boyfriend for money. It works as only a small amount of money is asked for and your husband/boyfriend is made to look like a jerk if he forces you to pass the rose back.

Rule of thumb:

Never accept anything from a stranger on the streets. It is never free.


8. Gold ring scam

Again, a scam that is common in France.

A gypsy will coincidentally find a gold ring on the floor, point at the “18k” hallmark on the ring and offer it to you. There ARE people who take it. It can be very convincing and goes something like this:

Scammer: “Sir, did you drop this ring?”
You: “No, I did not”
Scammer: “Well, you can give it to your wife, why not? It will make her happy. They might also insist that their religion (or some cock and bull reason) prevents them from keeping the ring.

If you accept, the gypsy will demand your money in return. She will simply say:

Scammer: “Sir, I am hungry, could you give me some money/change for a croissant?”

When you give, they will ask for more. Most people tend to give as they have accepted/taken something from the scammer. Reciprocity is a very powerful thing.

Sometimes, the scammer might walk away and reappear 5 minutes later to demand your money. Whatever it is, they will stop at nothing to get money from you.

The most scheming ones will have an accomplice pickpocket you while you are protesting. So don’t even engage them. If it is not yours, don’t’ take it. Keep a lookout for suspicious people and gold stuff on the ground! It is mere useless polished brass.

Rule of thumb:

Firmly reject and quickly be on your way.


9. Unofficial tour guides

Another common scam around the world (e.g. China, Sri Lanka), you will find unofficial tour guides touts at tourist spots. In Italy, you will see them at places with long queues such as the Vatican. They approach you, ask if you speak English and then offer a tour that is about to start. They claim this can help you avoid the queue.

As common sense dictates, ask how much it would cost upfront before engaging them. However, it is best to avoid engaging them as they might sing a different tune (i.e. ask for more money) at the end of the tour. They might even have more sinister plots brewing after the tour to scam you of your money.

Rule of thumb:

Stay away. Stick to the official queue or join reputable tours – you can easily find them online or by checking with your hotel staff.


10. Pigeon scam

Pigeons in Italy

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This is a common scam across Italy especially in large spaces such as squares. A random stranger grabs your hand, places some grain or corn in it and then whistles.

The pigeons fly over magically and the stranger will offer to take a picture for you which of course, will cost money.

Rule of thumb:

Firmly reject the offer and do not let anyone put anything in your hand.



1. Bag helpers

Never let anyone help you with your bag.

It could be a friendly stranger who steals your wallet from your bag. Or be an “official” looking employee who shows you to your seat, stows your seat and then demands a tip of €5. It might even be someone who runs off with your bag once he gets hold of it.

Rule of thumb:

Don’t ever let a random stranger help you with your bag.


2. Illegal taxis

These are cabs operating without license and are usually rip offs. Only take the risk if you are desperate and you know how much a certain distance or journey cost. Even then, the driver can simply stop and leave you stranded on a highway if you do not pay the extra money that he demands.

Rule of thumb:

An important tip for travellers to Italy, to get a cab, you don’t hail them from the streets. Instead, you get one at an official taxi station or you call to make a booking. Do note however, that the meter starts running once the booking is confirmed.

Also roughly find out the price of a trip. You could do so by doing a quick online check or by asking your hotel staff.


3. Overcharging taxis

Taxis in Italy

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Many of these can be found in Rome and Naples, though do be careful in other Italian cities as well.

Always ensure that the meter is on, again, unless you know how much a certain distance or journey should cost. At the start of a trip, also check the meter to gauge if it is running according to the KM/minute rates posted in the cab. Travelling to the airport is an exception however as a flat rate is charged.

Do not be surprised however, should you face certain charges. For example, extra charges for bags in the trunk, travelling on weekends/public holidays and travelling late at night. Some useful information:

  • Zone 1: historic centre; Zone 2: outside Rome’s beltway
  • Starting fare: €2.80 (7am-10pm weekdays); €4.00 (weekends, holidays); €5.80 (10pm-7am)
  • Surcharge from Termini: €2.00
  • Bag in trunk: €1.00
  • >5 passengers: €1.00

Rule of thumb:

As can be seen above, make sure that the meter is tuned in to the right zone and right starting fare! If they don’t, get out or take down their details (can be found on the inside rear door).

Make sure you have small charge as well, as the driver can simply insists that he does not have small notes/coins and pocket your change as a result.

Finally, if you travel alone, only deposit your bag when the driver is out of the cab. You could feign or request for his assistance, else you run the risk of him driving off with your belongings.


4. Overcharging water buses/vaporetti

Water buses in Venice

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Happens in Venice, where take the water bus is a must do experience for any tourists. Streets touts exploit that fact and resell tickets for an inflated price.

Rule of thumb:

Always check the latest prices on the web before buying. Or simply buy these tickets from the official sources.


5. Fake car crash

This is a scam that that has been reported in Sicily, Naples and in the Tuscany region. There are drivers of old vehicles who intentionally bang into/pretend to bang into your vehicle so as to claim damages.

Rule of thumb:

Nothing much you could do, besides to stay alert on the roads and make sure you have auto insurance.


6. Ticket helper

At popular train stations such as the Termini station, there are unauthorized “ticket helpers” roaming about to help tourists who seem unsure with how to buy tickets. They help you and will ask for a tip.

However, the nastier ones will simply grab your change. Or their accomplice may even steal your valuables or your luggage in the process.

Rule of thumb:

Again, never accept help from an overly friendly stranger when it is unsolicited. If you need help, ask a fellow commuter/tourist or check with the official staff.


7. Horse drawn carriages

Horse drawn carriages

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Just like the tuk tuks in Thailand and Vietnam, nothing shouts SCAM more than this. Be prepared for a €100 bill should you wish take this mode of transport.

Rule of thumb:



8. Car rental

Just like in Mexico, you might find yourself charged for damages on a car you rented which were not incurred during your usage.

Some of the tricks reported in Mexico, which may or may not occur here as well:

  • Damages: the company notice certain light scratches/damages and demand that you pay a fee for it.
  • Chipped windshield: Again, similar to the one on damages.
  • Spare tire/other item swap: While returning the car, an employee might come out when you are distracted and swap the spare tire for a spoilt one. Other items in your car can be swapped as well. You will then be asked to pay to repair the items

Rule of thumb:

Ask a local/hotel to recommend reputable shops to rent from. Or find them online. Also, take photos of the car and inspect it thoroughly for dents or scratches before using.



1. ATM skimmers

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This scam happens everywhere in the world (e.g. Brazil, Canada). Skimmers are little devices attached to the card slot of ATM machines. They can be really difficult to spot. Also, take note to cover your pin while typing it in, because there might have been cameras set up to capture your PIN and a card read to swipe your card.

There have also been reports where a scammer can distract you by tapping you as are withdrawing money to claim that you have dropped a $10 note behind you. Most people would turn, and at this point, an accomplice will appear out of nowhere to steal your card. And if you haven’t realize, scammer #1 would have already seen and memorized your PIN if you hadn’t bother to cover it up.

Rule of thumb:

Avoid using ATMs at dark, secluded areas. Scan the area as well for any suspicious looking characters.


2. Count your change

Euro vs Lira

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This is a typical scam around the world. Simply count your change, or make sure that your change is in Euros and not Lira. That is the old Italian currency that was in use till 2001/2.

Rule of thumb:

The Lira 500 looks awfully like the €2 coin. For big ticket items, always ensure you get receipts as proof in case anything goes awry. The law requires stores have to issue receipts so do not worry about requesting for one.

Also, be wary of those who drop your change. They might just switch a big note into a hidden small note.


3. The Guardia di Finanza (Tax Police)

Their job is to ensure that shops in Italy give out receipts which serve as a record for tax collection. How they go about checking is to ask you, the customer to produce a receipt when you exit from a restaurant or any shop.

The problem is that these police may sometimes be in plainclothes and not uniform. As such there are scammers who exploit this and pose as fake police. Upon seeing your receipt, they can claim that you have committed a crime and have to pay a fine.

Rule of thumb:

If you are unsure when someone in plainclothes approaches you for this purpose, stay clam. Ask for his badge and identification. Next, threaten to call the police hotline to verify his identity. If he demands that you pay a fine, insist to do it only at a police station.


4. Restaurant charges

Italy restaurant receipt

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Always ask for a menu and check the prices. You do not want to pay €30-50 for simple pasta or pizza dishes.

Post meal, there have also been reports of extra surcharges, unordered items and any shortchanging. However, note that pane e coperto (bread and cover) is not a scam. Servizio (service charge) is perfectly legitimate as well.

There have also been reports (compiled by Codacons, the Italian consumer watchdog association), where different prices were charged to locals and tourists.

Something of note is that ordering fish which sells by grams is particularly risky. Be careful of restaurants around the San Marco area in Venice as they have been to known to charge hundreds of euros for simple lobster/fish dishes.

Rule of thumb:

Do an online search or check with your hotel staff for reputable places to eat.

Over there, check the menu for price. Also look out for small footnotes which may indicate additional charges. Or small footnotes in a different language. Finally, check your bill.


5. Naples’ phone scam

Generously contributed by a reader in the comments section below, Heather observed touts offering a brand new phone at a low price on the streets. You can find this scam in other European countries as well, such as in Hungary and Poland.

This is reportedly common in Naples. Should you accept the offer, the seller and/or his accomplice will distract you and swap the phone/box the phone is in with a fake phone.

Then, there are others who simply hawk a fake phone on the streets.

Rule of thumb:

Do not buy anything from street touts. These are most likely fake, low quality items with an inflated price tag.


6. Club 84/sleaze

Run for your life if you hear someone offer you a free ticket to Club 84, as a €1,000 bill for drinks is normal there.  This goes for other sleazy clubs as well.

Another way touts of these free tickets approach you is to first ask for directions. Then as the conversation flows and rapport is built, drinks are suggested. This scam is also found in other European countries, such as Greece and Turkey.

Rule of thumb:

Never accept an offer for drinks from a random stranger on the streets. If you really want, test them by proposing to go to a different bar from what they suggest.



1. Emergency numbers to call

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  • Emergency number in Europe: 112
  • Police: 113
  • Fire engine: 115
  • Ambulance: 118

Connect with us!

Get protected!


  1. Heather82

    I’m surprised I’m not seeing what’s perhaps the most popular scam, especially in Naples’area. You’ll get approached by someone in the street trying to sell you an item, usually a brand new, working smartphone, at a very good price. If this isn’t alarming you enough, know that if you do buy something from the person, they’ll manage to make a last-second swap of the bag/box they’re giving you (by attracting your attention on something else), and you won’t find anything valuable in there.

    • Admin

      Thanks for sharing Heather! Have updated the list with your contribution 🙂

    • Lora

      Ok I’ll share one to there was this guy who cane and he was like pretending to shout while talking to his phone then he started touching his *area* then he removed it then he started saying that it’s only 5 or 0ne euro I don’t really remember..in short he was an asshole and when I said no he moved to the other girls and I was like if he was in some other no nonsense country,bitch he could have been beaten or something even tougher to death..

  2. Tan

    okay I’ll share one too. I was stupid enough to say yes to a guy who talked to me while I was sitting on the grass, not far from the Coliseum (about 5 min walk), enjoying the sun. I am a girl and the only excuse I have to say here for myself is I was trying to be more open with people so he said he would have loved to talk to me longer (so romantic) and went to a shop to buy some wine/champagne. Literally 2 minutes later he asked me for money for this cheap bottle of alcohol. I understood that I was scammed so to get away – gave him about 10 euro. Still very disappointed in myself.

    • Admin

      It’s ok Tan, I myself have been scammed too, all part and parcel of travelling, and such experiences makes us better travellers in the future. Thanks for sharing! 🙂


    We got a couple of hundred euros bill in st marco restaruant for ordering a fish which is on menu for 8.50 eruo, but they charged on grams of weight. The venice restaurants selling fish/lobsters are bunch of con artists and crooks. Be aware!

    • Admin

      That’s daylight robbery! 🙁

  4. Steve

    Just returned from Rome, florence and Venice. Three times, the taxi driver properly set his meter to”1″ and started at the correct starting price. However, the digits to the right of the meter were not zero, but some other number around 2-4 euros. When the trip was completed, the driver hits a button adding on that extra charge, which I believe would be for tolls or baggage. I complained each time and the driver immediately removed the additional charge. I was not impressed with how many times that happened to us. Beware!

    • Admin

      Good spot Steve, thanks for sharing!

      • CM

        use uber or taxify if it is existing. saves a lot of trouble!

  5. Kieran

    Common scam I’ve seen in heavily populated tourist areas during the summer season is for a ‘scammer’ to shout “PICKPOCKET!”. The natural response is for everyone to check if their wallet/valuables are still in the right place, they are for now. Well done guys. You just alerted all the scammers in the area where your valuables are, and they know where and who to target!

  6. Victor

    I was scammed on the first day of my Italy trip. It happened at the Bologna centrale train station in the evening. I was nervous that day because i could not find a correct platform to change train to Modena. I am still confused after i asked the train conductors for directions, then i was approached by a young man. He showed me all the directions to the platform and also advised me not to board the wrong train. Shortly after i thanked him, he asked me for tips. I refused to give him money but he kept on disturbing me. I had no choice so i gave him 2 euros to avoid any troubles. It was a horrible experience for me.

    • f

      Doesn’t sound so horrible. He helped you out and it cost you a pittance.

      • Jadzia

        I think it’s disgusting. I live in a touristy city in France and have often helped people with directions and information. Why would I charge for that? It’s just being a decent person.

  7. Dan

    I am ashamed to admit it, but I just today for a variation of the petrol/gas scam in Milano. The line was that he was a rep from a watch company and he just finished a trade show. He had these left over watches he wanted to get rid of so he didn’t have to pay taxes on them when returning home to Zurich. He had a brochure and was quite good at the spiel. Of course he needed gas money and even offered to give me the watches when I tried to back away. I guess that is when he got me. The watches were made out to be worth hundreds of Euros. I looked them up and they are some cheap China made crap that looks nice when flashed in front of you. Wish I would have read about this scam before coming to Italy.

  8. jijo

    Dear All,

    I had a very bad experience from Rome, I had to pay EURO 2140/- (fake bill) to save my life from a night club(Paris Roma) were I consumed alcohol worth 100 EURO max.

    Always ask the price in advance for whatever you buy /whatever they serve else you will be in trouble and they will not allow you to leave the place w/o clearing the bill


    • Cindybin

      Well you shouldn’t use alcohol at all! All these booze scams could be avoided if people would just grow up and set an example and have some morals and not use alcohol. Alcohol is a drug! Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right! And what gets me is that I have ranted against alcohol for 16 years online, typing my fingers to the bone!

      • Ben

        Shoulda, coulda, woulda……. blah blah blah Miss Cindybin. This site is about helping to prevent not criticise like what your doing. Why don’t you do some traveling and gain some experience before you talk.

        • Sally127

          IKR Ben, this is a travel site, no one cares about your opinions on alcohol use honey

      • Gabe

        Oh stop. You’re embarrassing yourself.

      • Aaron

        And that practice has and will never get you anywhere. Feel free to take off the white wig at anytime and get a life so you don’t waste any more time on this frivolous internet crusade you seem hell bent on continuing.

  9. Gie

    Published exchange rate in the airport or other money changer did not include 20% service charge/tax.

  10. Jude

    Watch car rentals in Italy – highway robbery esp Hertz, Avis and Budget

    • Frank Varga

      Hi Jude
      We are traveling to Italy in a few weeks flying into Rome and have already booked our rental vehicle through Avis at the airport, we booked it online in Melbourne via Auto Europe which is an Australian company and already paid in full. Do I still need to look out for a scam on pickup.

  11. Alessandro

    Hi, I’m Italian, living outside Milano. I’m sorry with people had scum experience in my country. we have bad and good things.
    I think another scam is the gondola in venice, he asked us 150€ for a couple tour. ( same as horse scam). I mean if you came from far far away maybe you accept to pay but, you know…
    One scam you forgot is some people go on train and ask help for pay ticket, usually ask for same euros not mutch, but is a scam, I seen from my childage. another scam you have to know if you have a car is abusive parking helper, sometimes with worksuit too! He just help you find a park and ask you 1 or 2 euro, without really helped you.
    recently I have seen many people look at car engine in same commercial zones park, I have no figure out what scam it is yet, I’ll working on it. sorry for my english I use only abroad.

  12. Nick A

    Today in Rome my wife and I were crossing the road down by the Tiber and were spotted by a well dressed guy in a small car who followed the EXACT patter described in 1 above. He started off asking directions “as he wasn’t sure which side of the river he was on”, talked about working for Gallery Lafayette in Paris. He then said he’d give us one of his samples, a jacket, and at this point, we made our excuses and he drove off. He was very convincing and it was only when we Googled “Rome Scams” and got to this site, that my nagging doubts were confirmed!

  13. Rania

    Today I was in Rome going back to hotel and a guy who looks like a tourist asked us about where is the Vatican or metro station and then a guy in normal clothes showed up and claimed he is police and showed me a badge m. Then he asked us to show our IDs and our money. I got out my insurance Id and then he asked to show him all the money we have as this guy spoke to other tourists and he has fake dollars (both me and my husband) I told him let us go to police station and I shouted where a nearby group saw us and he told me it is fine go ahead to your hotel

  14. Danny


    Be sure to double check the meter rate or the agreed price for a trip from the Milan Airport to downtown Milan.
    We were charged 130eu for a ride that should have cost no more than 90eu

    • Disappointed

      Happened to me here in Palermo tonight. Should be 45€ or so to the centro, was 73 of which i paid 70. Nice feeling to get ripped off 1st thing when coming to a city you’re long awaited to visit. Meter was running, guess it was his own kind of meter. Stupid not to ask for fee beforehand but i really didnt think the taxis in line outside this internationak airport were there to fuck u in the ass.

  15. Marie

    Whilst travelling to Pisa Airport on the motorway we thought a stone had hit the passenger window although there was no vehicle near us to have caused this. We think this was probably a catapult or some such propeller. After this a car overtook us, pointing to our car and beeping his horn. He pulled into the next layby and signalled that we should do likewise. The passenger approached our car alongside the our passenger door claiming we had broken his wing mirror and claiming you could see the damage that had occurred on the side of our car. My husband who was driving got out and went to the scam vehicle parked some way behind us where the driver in the car showed him a broken wing mirror and a website on his ‘phone saying a replacement would cost E600. You pay cash he shouted – and at this point my husband said he wasn’t paying anything as we hadn’t collided with anyone and walked back to our car and we pulled away. They came up behind us again but when we left the motorway we lost them. When we checked our car on stopping there was a black ink line along the side of our car which had obviously been put on as the scammer approached us in the lay-by. It rubbed off with a tissue.

    It doesn’t help that hire cars are often easy to pick out because the hire companies mark them as such in some way. We had a smiley face sticker on the back window. So just beware.

    • DeAnn

      Same thing happened to us on our way to Pisa. We didn’t follow the guy, but wondered what had hit our window. Glad you posted. I thought it seemed fishy.

    • Kate

      This happened to us in Sicily – on the road between Ispica and Pachino. Driver kept trying to get us off the main road away from people – showing affected concern for the dangerous traffic conditions. We got caught out and are now incredulous that we fell for it. Just want to warn others.

    • John w

      Something similar happened to us yesterday. We were driving back to our base in Syracuse from the nature reserve 30 mins away. Having spent a lovely afternoon on the beach, going for a swim and walking, we just set and a few hundred yards down the road there was a car parked at the side of the road (not the place to park on the single track country road), I passed the car with what I thought was plenty of room and as we passed we heard the thud (dull bang at the side off the car), well I thought we must have clipped wing mirrors though it wasn’t the kind of noise you would expect from a wing mirror collision but I thought to myself it couldn’t have been anything else. Anyway, I didn’t stop as I wasn’t sure but the guy (who was stood at the back of his car at the time) sped after us and signalled us off the road, to which I obliged. So moments later I get out of the car and he was polite , dicn’t speak any Engish at all but signalled that we had broken his wing mirror and indicated we should pay him some cash to avoid police and insurance. He didn’t mention an amount at this time and we shrugged our shoulder jesticulating that we had very little money and disputed that we couldn’t have done it. But he pointed to a black line of plastic type of smudge down the side of the car as evidence that we had hit his wing mirror and showed us the damage, so confused, I foolishly went to show that I had little money in my wallet (only 30 euros I thought I had even less) but he more or less said to give him that and he would accept it to pay for damage and avoid calling police etc), I gave it to him just to get rid of him. I was then surprised how quickly he just jumped back into his car and sped off before we had even got back into our car.

      We wondered if we had been scammed at all, and how did that black line get down the rear passenger side of the car ? It was like an uneven black line of plastic smudge (almost tar like substance). Surely if we had hit his wing mirror the impact would have damaged our wing mirror too not the rear side of the car. We wondered if he could have daubed that black stuff on the car as he got out his car behind us and clearly scammed us.?!

  16. PercyRoma

    I am very mindful of these scams when i visit Rome or any place. I think if one keeps their antenna up and in every situation ask themselves if they believe there is an angle here, it might protect them from these horrible parasites… When I got out, I do not engage with anyone as I have no business engaging with people I know nothing about. I stay with my own group and do my best to ignore anyone coming into my company uninvited. It is a good tip to have the contact numbers of the Police in whatever country and also to photo copy official i.d. documents. Never carry too much cash at any time. If you see something you’d like to buy you can always return the next day to purchase something. I never carry a lot of cash when I am out sightseeing. I bring an amount that I could survive without If I have the misfortune of being robbed, I could survive it so it wouldn’t spoil my holiday!

  17. merume

    I was just hit by the car rental scam by Budget/Avis in Italy – when I picked up the car there was a small black mark on the front bumper which I didn’t even notice.

    When I dropped off the car at Marco Polo airport, they charged my 207 euros for it(!) – see http://imgur.com/a/9bLKB

    So, always check and document before you even open the door.

    • Cheryl

      Always, always use your mobile phone to take photos of every inch of the car when you are handed the keys. Let them see you taking the photos. Point out any tiny dirt spot or ding.

  18. Russ

    This evening around 10:30pm we returned from eating out after a lovely day at the outdoor pool. Florence is lovely but just near our apartment while I was in a shop paying for icecreams a man had approached my wife and ‘given’ her and my my young daughter small wooden carvings. His patter was swift and he was insisting that these were gifts. He quickly statet that he had family in uk to hiuld rapport and that his wife was giving birth today! Presumably to gain empathy from me. I became quicjly suspicious that he wanted some kind of payment but he said not but contradicted himself and asked for a ‘contribution’.. he was saying that he co tell that I was a ‘good man’ and so on and procceeded to adirn me with some leather wrist bracelet. I became super concoous of my surroundings… my wife and kids had made it into out apartment main door and my pocjets had not been picked… Yet. The smallest note I had on me was 20 euros. I challenged him. I said i didnt want them. I offered thst he tske them back. I gave him my wridt to take back the bracelet. I said this is some kind of scam. He took the bracelet back and began to ask where are my wife and children gone. By niw he had realised i wasnt paying up. He was now saying that I wasa bad man. He had certainly changed his tune. If he took one step inside our apartment main door I thought to myself. I got the wooden carvings and gave them back to him abd shut the door on him. What an aweful feeling. My wife and I then had an argument afterwards and my daughter was in tears. Horrible experience. What a shame on our last night in Florence… off to Venice tomorrow… reading the comments and tips above I guess I had better remain vigilent… but I guess sadly it goes with the territory.

    • Tate

      Same exact thing happened to my wife and I in Florence yesterday. Man with wooden carvings and string bracelet. We didn’t give him anything and he took the “gifts” back.

  19. Sue and John

    Scammed on regional train in Cinque Terre by train guard- not only fined 108 euro but he also took all our train tickets for our next leg to Rome. When we reported incident, he was interrogated, denied all and others indicated knowingly that this was not unknown. We had to replace tickets and surprise- when we checked on train our previously allocated seats were occupied. In other words, not only did this rail official pocket the so-called fine but so sold the tickets he stole from us!

  20. pat

    Italy has to realize that if it makes no efforts, tourists will get fedup and never return… Italy is surely not in a position to lose some tourism income!

  21. damian

    the worst ever country scammer in europe

  22. Carol Ann Murphy

    Beh, I got taken for 1 euro by a taxi driver and feel very lucky…that is the only $/item I lost last week. It was my third trip to Rome and I was extremely careful [zipped money pouch inside my buttoned blouse w/cord all tucked out of site] and aware of my surroundings. I know how to speak read, write and SPEAK Italian so perhaps that is why I did not feel too vulnerable traveling alone outside of my original travel group. Yes, I was ‘hit’ on by the rose, bracelet and neon sellers and I politely said “no, grazie 2x” if they persisted it went “up” and loudly to “NO, VA VIA” which means NO, GO AWAY! I wore a determined and unpleasant expression on my face when I walked with a brisk pace in the terminis, as if to say ‘do not even try to mess with me.’ I had a very FUN Trip!

  23. mojopdx

    BEWARE! Another car scam in Italy. Rental cars are marked with neon yellow stickers, so everyone knows you’re a tourist driving. Man # 1 comes up behind on a bike or scooter, slashes your rear tire, then acts “helpful” telling you the tire is flat. When you pull over, he stays with you. Tries to convince you to go to a “garage” nearby with him. DON’T do it, they take you to an isolated place & rob you at gun point. When you refuse (as we did) Man # 2 comes along to be “helpful” & also tries to convince you to go to the “garage.” They’re both casing the car & your belongings. At some point, you’ll be distracted & they’ll get something from the car. In our case, it was my husband’s passport. So be forewarned. You’ll be charged for all the car damages, the police can’t do anything. However, there is a US Consulate in Milan, so you can get another passport if needed. The Consulate says this is the # 2 scam against tourists in Italy now.

  24. Yadira Arellano

    Sat at a cafe in Cannes that had a well worn newspaper on it…got charged 2 euros for just sitting at that table. Oh well, nothing is free but I still get surprised once in a while.

  25. Cheryl

    My husband and I were in Matera, Italy when an African tried the bracelet trick but I pulled away. He started begging for money. I firmly said no but he became belligerent. I said I would call the police. I am 63 years old and have traveled a lot so I know the scams. I did call the police since he had grabbed me. The police all pretended not to speak any English at all, so don’t expect any help from them with this street scum. The police are very lazy in France and Italy and don’t care what happens to tourists.

  26. Manuel

    Haha, beware of the gas stations (Q8) seemingly having kinda cheap gas but they actually got two prices. The higher one, being like 25% higher is for being “serviced”, so we just paid like 20€ extra for having a guy fill up our vehicle! 😀

  27. JP

    It’s honestly sad how many scams there are in Rome since it is such a beautiful place. Yesterday I was walking around Rome and an African started complimenting my pants and tried to give me something but the best thing to do is just keep walking (which I did and always works). Also, firmly saying ‘nein’ (no in German) works well too lol.

  28. Hyder Gowher

    Tire slash / valuable belongs stolen attempt scam.

    On may 4th, we drove from Zurich, Switzerland to Milan, Italy. Our rental car had Zürich number plate and car rental graphics therefore it was straight up give away we are new in the city. Within 10 mins of driving inside the city, our passenger back tire started losing air. So we pulled inside a quite street to check the vehicle notification. (Catch: right when we pulled-in, a Roman/italian speaking man on scooter showed up and stated showing us area to get our flat tire fix.)

    He kept speaking in his native langauage and keep pointing figure at a direction and made every effort to get our attention; and we said “thank you” and drove in that direction. Within 3 mins on the road our tire was completely flat and we found parking on another street which was kinda busy street.

    Right when we pulled in, another guy on scooter with his phone glued to helmet pulled up and started pointing us to the same direction. He even assisted me to take my spare tire out and our bags from the back of trunk out and kept speaking in native language; kinda forcing us and showing direction and diverted our direction.

    Within that second another guy sneaked into front seat of the car and was going through my wife’s purse. Luckily my wife saw the guy and shouted by asking “excuse me, what are you doing in our bags;” and both the guys took off.

    Luckily the guy just picked my wife’s purse which had our passports, credit cards, cash; and he dint get away with anything.

    When we went to tire shop, the mechic pointed out saying that the tire had be slash on the side and the brand new winter tire is non-fixable.

    With rental company guidelines, we had to install not one, but two brand new tires worth 400€.

    Since this was our first impression in Italy, we were paranoid. Our trip taste completely changed and we looked at every person who approached us with a questionable face.

    This was a very well organized crime where these scammers slash tires, and when the car stops; they take their attention and steal their belongings.

    We left the city very next day since we dint feel safe and stayed at lake Como, Italy and made our way back to Zurich.

    We tried to make police complain but due to language barrier we couldn’t get through.

  29. Andrew

    Today we got scammed, luckily not too badly.
    We were walking along Via Bissolati towards the Villa Borghese gardens. A well dressed man in a car pulled over and hesitatingly asked if we spoke English whilst holding a map. I wen5 over and spoke with him and he explained he was slightly lost and was looking for Termini. Me being the good bloke I am talked with him then he said we were from New Zealand and his wife was from Hamilton and that the issue was he’d forgotten their anniversary and he was going to Termini to buy flowers on his Amex card. Then he told us he was with Ferrari as a senior manager in their accounts section and that was fine. Then he said ‘ look you’ve been so helpful I’ll give you this gift that we give all our drivers – it’s special and I’d like you to have it. I was a bit hesitant but he seemed genuine. He then asked if we had any money he could use to buy the flowers so I handed over several Euros and off he went. I’m picking the ‘gift’ cost a few Euros less than what we ‘paid’ for it but we got scammed👍😂. You live and learn. We’ve just looked on a website and sure as shit there’s an almost identical situation that was played out except the bloke was from Armani and gave someone some ‘fur coats’. No bloody wonder it works for them. He appeared to be a well heeled 60 year old who played us…… here’s a phot of my ‘gift’ – the watch works and keeps time, the pen works and I need battery for the torch😂😂😂

    • Jannsaa

      Just met this guy today! But his wife was from Norway!. haha. Had to Google it to see if this was a scam. Amazing! But we didnt have any cash on us so we could not help him with the flowers. What a pro guy!

  30. Wennee

    We got scammed by an airport taxi driver who drove like hell, first timer and we didn’t research on these and charged us 90 euros plus 40euros coz he switch 50euros with 10 so total of 130 euros for a 40 minute taxi drive were just glad we arrived at our hotel alive, so sad how they feed their families by stealing money from tourist and leaving a very bad impression for their country, well what can you do with uneducated people who lives from stealing money and that’s what they’re going to teach their kids, very sad.

  31. rod

    On a recent trip to Sicily: Lost in Enna and with limited Italian, we asked a man on the side of the road for directions. He told us to turn around at the bus stop down the road. As I was about to pull back out into the street, he came swiftly down the street on his motorcycle, and dumped it about 8-10 meters up the street from us. Seeing the bike out of the corner of my eye, I stopped before going out onto the street. The bike slid past the car about 2 meters away. The rider then got up limping and yelling and trying to claim that his crash was my fault.
    My best guess is that the rider was trying to create an “accident” as part of a scam. If so, he needs more practice and a less cautious driver.
    We spent about 30 minutes helping the police fill out an incident report which basically said that we had witnessed an accident. The police made a point of stating that there was no contact, then gave us very good directions for our intended destination.

    • Andy

      As an Australian with an Italian girlfriend, even though I speak very little Italian myself, it’s been fun to watch my her really let loose at scammers, last night a smelly rose guy entered the restaurant we were in, he hassled the young Italian couple behind us till, in English I suggested he leave them alone, undeterred he tried to then push the rose onto my gf…. I beat her to it this time,,, funny thing was this nice rose guy tripped out the door while calling me “a f**k ‘, and actually flipping me the bird,, haha classic

  32. Mike

    I parked on the street in Mazara dell Vallo. I thought I was lucky when find a free parking spot within white marks. Suddenly a guy rushed from near restaurant to our car asked €2 for parking I gave him €5 he brought change from restaurant. To play his role he attached piece of paper to rear wiper..then I realized it’s scam.

  33. Anonymous

    My mother was scammed the other day when a guy at Napoli central train station came up and started pressing buttons and bought ticket reservations for 60 euro, instead of our tickets for like 350 euros. then he asked for 100 euros for helping us “save money” and she gave it to him. When we got on the train and left we had to pay over 800 euros for our seats over half the original price. 😑

  34. A wee bit wiser

    We had a backpack stolen on the train from Rome to Florence, and unfortunately it had my laptop and camera in it. We had taken pics on our phones, but lost a lot that were on the camera. The laptop thankfully, was password protected, but I still spent a lot of time when we got to Florence changing a lot of passwords. We had the backpack in the overhead storage bin, directly over top of our seats. We were in the last two seats on the train car. Someone apparently stood behind our seats, reached up and grab the backpack – while we were looking out the window enjoying the beautiful scenery. Next time, backpack will stay in our laps the whole time, or at our feet. Rookie mistake, and will be more vigilant next time.


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