45 Most Common Tourist Scams in USA

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Image source: topstravel.net


Canyons, glaciers, deserts, rainforests, beaches, cities, skyscrapers, towns, music, Hollywood, you name it, the USA has it.

As one of the world’s superpowers, Uncle Sam has an astounding list of experiences to offer to make your holiday the trip of a lifetime.

However, with the third largest population in the world, the USA is also home to a number of criminals and scammers.

Over the years, these scums have perfected quite a couple of tricks up their sleeves to fleece you of your money.

Read on to learn how to protect yourself on this trip of a lifetime!




1. Music artist


How it works:

This is a scam that is common in New York City (Times Square especially or the Las Vegas strip). An overly friendly guy will approach you and offer a free CD of his music.

He claims that you would be doing him a huge favour if you were to accept it and play it in your country. Some would even autograph the CD as a show of sincerity.

Should you accept the CD, you will then be asked for payment. If you refuse, the scammer will refuse to take back the CD and make a scene claiming that you have stolen it.

Some would even have a gang of accomplices surround you and pressurize you into paying.


What to do:

There are actually legitimate sellers. But to spare yourself the trouble, spot these sellers from afar and avoid them.


2. Taking photos with TV / movie characters


How it works:

You can find tons of these characters on Broadway, such as spiderman, Elsa from Frozen, Ironman, etc.

If you were to take photos with them, be prepared to pay a tip, or be hounded or even attacked.


What to do:

If you must, either pay or take a photo from afar without them realizing it. Or just pay up for a cheap thrill.


3. Fake Las Vegas sign photographers

Image source: thousandwonders.net


How it works:

At the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, you will find many official-looking photographers ready to help you take a photo.

Note that there are no such official jobs around and these scammers will help you a photo first and then hound you for a tip.


What to do:

Just ask a fellow tourist to help you take a photo.


4. Fake charity peddlers

Image source: nydailynews.com


How it works:

There have been many reports of scammers claiming to represent some charity at the Times Square in New York.

For instance, they may claim to represent homeless people working for the Time Square news, or that they are helping people living in poverty in Africa, or even saving endangered animals from extinction etc.

To sound even more convincing, they come armed with fanciful brochures and postures.

Once you are hooked, they will ask you to sign on a form and to make a donation.


What to do:

If you really want to donate, go online, search for legitimate, registered organizations and donate to them instead.


5. The three card monte scam

Image source: nypost.com


How it works:

Besides in the US, the shell game is also especially common in Europe (e.g. Germany, UK).

This game involves the showing and then shuffling of three cards (e.g. 2 black, 1 red). You have to guess which card is the odd one out. Guess correctly and you double your money.

The scam is perpetrated by a group of scammers. There is one dealer, two to three in the crowd acting as onlookers, one playing the game and one on the lookout for the police.

This game seems easy but it is impossible to win, because the dealer uses a sleight of hand trick to swap the card.

If you see anyone winning, that is the accomplice. This is so as to tempt tourists into thinking that it is easy to win.

Watch out for those accomplices acting as onlookers, as they will pressure you into playing or intimidate you into staying. Some may even steal your valuables when you are distracted.

If you’re interested, here’s a video exposing how the scam is done:


What to do:

Avoid – it’s impossible to win.

And as we always recommend, arm yourself with an anti-theft bag or a money belt / hidden pouch. This makes it impossible for these thieves to steal from you.


6. Restaurant gratuity / double tip scam

Image source: nydailynews.com


How it works:

It has been reported that restaurants at Times Square have been charging customers double the tip, by adding an additional gratuity on the bill.

For those who are lucky, you might get a waiter who tells you that you don’t have to leave a tip at the end.


What to do:

Go through your restaurant bill carefully. Do some online research or check with your hotel staff on the reputable places to eat at.


7. Hidden “resort fees” at hotels


How it works:

For many hotels along the Las Vegas strip and even some in New York, they charge customers “resort fees” in addition to the advertised room rate.

The advertised room rates tend to be a low one to pull in unknowing tourists.

By the time you realize, it will probably be too late to back out.

Some of these hotels further benefit by separating this resort fee revenue from the normal revenue and not pay tax on the former.


What to do:

Do your research online to find the reputable places to stay.

Here’s a list of hotels which charge and also those which don’t. However, as we don’t have control over that site, do double check in case that page is not updated.

If you were asked to pay, here are three steps to avoid paying that charge.


8. Fake takeout menu

Image source: doctordisney.com


How it works:

This is an easy scam to fall for, as it looks so believable.

As the name suggests, these scammers will slip fake takeout menus under your hotel room door.

Should you order through the menu, the scammers will get your credit card information and you know what happens next.

Orlando / Disneyland seems to be the hotspot for this crime. Despite efforts by the authorities to clean it up, the scam still exists, probably because it is an easy and lucrative one.


What to do:

Double check with the hotel reception before ordering, or order room service instead.


9. Hot dog mustard / spilled liquid scam

Image source: newengland.com


How it works:

This usually happens in crowded places, where a man eating a hot dog (a mustard tube in a bun actually) “accidentally” squirts mustard over you.

He will help you clean up, forcefully even if he were to reject his help.

This is to create time and space for his accomplice to make off with your luggage or your valuables.

This is a common scam around the world (e.g. Argentina, UAE) just in different variations (e.g. bird poo, spilled liquid, green liquid, white liquid, spit, etc).


What to do:

Be wary around those eating a hot dog in crowded places (airports and malls largely). If anyone spills something on you and tries to help, stand your ground and push them away forcefully.

Only carry small amounts of cash around with you in a cheap, spare wallet. Avoid carrying the purse or wallet in the back pocket.

For the rest of your valuables, hide them securely with a money belt or hidden pouch and an anti-theft bag, this way, thieves will almost never be able to steal from you.

Further, keep most of your valuables and passport in the hotel / hostel safe, which can be further secured with hotel safety tools. Carry around a photocopy of your passport instead.


10. Street pickpockets


How it works:

Crowded streets, train stations, public transportation, markets, shopping malls, restaurants, tourist attractions, hotels, nightspots or anywhere tourists hang out at are pickpockets’ favourite spots.

These thieves work in gangs, and will hang around to spot anyone carrying an expensive or neglected phone / jewelery / valuable / bag and where it is stored.

Once they mark a target, they will surround him or her and then work like this:

  • One will keep a lookout and block passer-bys from seeing the scene.
  • Another will push or distract the target (e.g. ask you an innocent question / survey / drop something and ask you about it).
  • A third will steal your valuable / slash your bag and then passes it on.
  • The last will hide the loot under a jacket / coat / newspaper and then escapes with it.


What to do:

Stay alert and watch out for suspicious characters, though that is easier said than done in a crowded environment.

The best solution is still, to not make yourself look like a target. 

This is because once you are targeted, you will almost definitely lose your valuables in a split second.

To make it impossible for thieves to steal from you, we recommend:

  • Carry small amounts of cash in a cheap spare wallet that you wouldn’t mind losing. Do not leave it in your back pocket.
  • Conceal small valuables securely in a slim fitting money belt or hidden pouch.
  • Store larger valuables in an anti-theft bag that is slash resistant and lockable. Keep it in front of you.
  • Keep most of your valuables in your hotel / hostel safe, which can be further secured with hotel safety tools.
  • Carry around a photocopy of your passport instead instead of the actual one.



11. Shake my hand and buy my item to let go

Image source: tripsavvy.com


How it works:

As the title suggests, there have been reports (e.g. at Union Square) of a guy coming up to you to shake your hand while holding a box of candies.

Once you fall for it, he is not going to let go until you pay an inflated price for the box of candies he is holding.


What to do:

Decline and avoid.


12. Casino theft (many variations)

Image source: vegas-lights.us


How it works:

There have been reports of theft at casinos, in many different variations:

  • At female toilets in casinos, a thief can reach over the stall and grab handbags / purses off the door’s hooks
  • A scammer might drop some money on the floor and ask if those are yours. Once you are distracted, the scammer’s accomplice will swoop in and steal your bucket of coins or tokens.
  • In casinos with coinless machines, there are scammers who roam around trying to find machines with high credit. Next, they distract you, and an accomplice swoops in to cash out the machine by pressing the button to print out the redemption ticket and then run away with it.


What to do:

Avoid putting yourself in the aforementioned situations and stay alert.


13. Can you help cash out my chips / can you help me?

Image source: joshdoody.com


How it works:

This can come in many variations as well.

One common variation is near the casinos, where the scammer will say a sob story such as:

I was winning lots of money, but the casino accused me of card counting and threw me out. I didn’t even get a chance to cash out of my chips. I have $10,000 worth of it now, can I pay you $500 to help me cash it?


However, for me to trust you, can you pass me your wallet so that I can exchange it back with you once you cash in those chips?

Those are obviously fake chips but there are still tourists who fall for it.

Other variations could be for instance, claiming to be robbed and needing money for transport to the hotel / police station; or asking you to buy a jewellery which is obviously fake at an inflated price, etc.


What to do:

If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Never accept such kinds of propositions from a stranger.


14. VIP pass scam

Image source: visitlasvegas.com


How it works:

You will find VIP passes being promoted in nearly all casinos or strip corners in Las Vegas.

This pass, which may come with a free drink or expedited entry, doesn’t actually work as advertised.

The free drinks which these passes entitle you to are usually limited to a certain time. Expedited entry also doesn’t work if the club is full, which defeats the purpose of the pass in the first place.

There are even fake passes being sold, so do be wary of that.

Of course, there are legitimate VIP passes, but be prepared to spend more.

Also there is a risk of being rejected by the club hosts and employees who claim that these are fake. This is because the host / employee did not take a cut of the profits of the pass and so would not care.

Pass your pass to the cashier instead of to them.


What to do:

Do your research to find the legitimate promoters / places to buy from.

One way is to buy it at crowded areas or where there’s a police presence, and get the promoter’s name and mobile number.


15. Street cards / escort cards in Las Vegas

Image source: kreyolasjourneys.com


How it works:

These cards are given out on the strip, with each card showing a prostitute on it and the price of that prostitute.

Note that the fee shown on the card is for the prostitute to show up, anything else comes with extra charges.

And if you do not know, prostitution here is illegal. As such, they usually use fake pictures and aliases. Thus the person who turns up is not going to look like the one on the card!

What’s worse, because prostitution here is illegal, the person who turns up is more likely to be here to rob you, instead of engaging in any sexual activities.

Even for the real prostitutes, they are likely to rip you off and are unlikely to have gone through any health check ups.


What to do:

Do your research to find the legitimate promoters / places to buy from.

Don’t act on these cards but if you do, be prepared to pay out of your pocket. Or you can simply head to the legal red light district.

And of course, leave your valuables in your hotel / hostel room safe, which you can further secure with hotel safety tools.


16. Free meal at a casino


How it works:

You might meet an attractive stranger, who will try to hit it off with you.

Once trust is established, he / she will claim that he / she has just won big at the casino, and offers to treat you at some expensive restaurant.

Should you accept, halfway through the meal, your new found friend will excuse himself / herself to the bathroom and not come back.


What to do:

Reject such offers, especially from a random stranger.


17. Fake monks

Image source: nypost.com


How it works:

Fake monks are a global enterprise, you can find them everywhere around the world (e.g. Australia, Hong Kong).

These scammers, dressed in orange robes, go around tourist attractions. They offer golden medallions and greetings of peace in exchange for donations to help some temple which they are from.

If you refuse, they will turn aggressive and hound you, or snatch the medallion back as a last resort.

But that’s not all, if you’re unlucky, the fake monk might not be the only one hounding you.


What to do:

Decline and avoid.


18. “Free” comedy show scam

Image source: Broadway Comedy Club


How it works:

In New York, there have also been reports of this scam, where scammers hand out free comedy club (e.g. at Broadway Comedy Club) entrance tickets.

They claim that famous comedians such as David Letterman or Jimmy Falon have previously performed at these clubs.

Should you go, what you will find is an old, rundown bar, where you will be forced to buy two drinks at the minimum.

You should still count yourself lucky. This is because the unluckier ones might even have been scammed into paying for the “free” ticket and lied to that the drinks are free!


What to do:

Again, do some research online or check with your hotel staff on the legitimate comedy clubs to go to and the authorized dealers to buy from.


19. Slot machines at Las Vegas McCarran International airport

Image source: Flickr – Cragin Spring


How it works:

This is not technically a scam but more of a tourist trap.

However, it should not come as a surprise that the slot machines and video poker machines here have a lousier rate of return!

It has been reported that these machines only return roughly 85%, compared to the 92% at the casinos in town.


What to do:

Avoid playing here.



1. Public transportation pickpockets


How it works:

Crowded transportation hubs with confused tourists and crowded trains / buses to and from the airport and tourist attractions are pickpockets’ favourite spots.

These thieves work in gangs, and will hang around to spot anyone carrying an expensive or neglected phone / jewelery / valuable / bag and where it is stored.

Once they mark a target, they will surround him or her and then work like this:

  • One will keep a lookout and block passer-bys from seeing the scene
  • Another will push, block or distract the target at the station / train / bus / escalator / door (e.g. ask you an innocent question / survey / drop something and ask you about it)
  • A third will steal your valuable / slash your bag and then passes it on
  • The last will hide the loot under a jacket / coat / newspaper and then escapes with it


What to do:

Stay alert and watch out for suspicious characters, though that is easier said than done in a crowded environment.

The best solution is still, to not make yourself look like a target. 

This is because once you are targeted, you will almost definitely lose your valuables in a split second.

To make it impossible for thieves to steal from you, we recommend:

  • Carry small amounts of cash in a cheap spare wallet that you wouldn’t mind losing. Do not leave it in your back pocket.
  • Conceal small valuables securely in a slim fitting money belt or hidden pouch.
  • Store larger valuables in an anti-theft bag that is slash resistant and lockable. Keep it in front of you.
  • Keep most of your valuables in your hotel / hostel safe, which can be further secured with hotel safety tools.
  • Carry around a photocopy of your passport instead instead of the actual one.



2. Metrocard scam

Image source: nydailynews.com


How it works:

There have been reports where people pick up abandoned cards usually with little value left in them and resell them for a higher price, while claiming that it is actually a “discounted” price.

In fact, it was reported that a homeless man made over $20,000 just from reselling these cards.

Note that it is illegal for anyone besides the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to sell these cards.


What to do:

Only buy your transportation cards from the authorized MTA dealers.


3. Ferry to Staten Island / fake tickets

Image source: YouTube – Hoosier Tim’s Travel Videos


How it works:

Found on most tourists’ list of things to do, a trip on the iconic ferry to Staten Island is a great way to see New York’s harbour.

You might find street hawkers pushing these tickets at any price. But thing is, you do not have to pay to get on board!

Besides the Staten Island ferry ticket, there are other “fake” and overpriced tickets sold by unlicensed groups.

For instance, the infamous SJQ Sightseeing tours scammers who wear dark blue vests with those words, sell new Statue of Liberty tickets for $80-100, reused Statue of Liberty tickets and even Battery Park entrance tickets for $20 when entrance is free!

Image source: awalkintheparknyc.blogspot.com


Do beware of these crooks who operate around lower Manhattan!


What to do:

Do some research before buying these tickets. E.g. is a ticket required? If so, where is the authorized outlet to buy from?


4. Fake taxis / ubers at the airport


How it works:

Like many other countries globally (e.g. Philippines, Mexico), beware of drivers soliciting for customers away from the official queues.

They will claim to charge a lower price to entice you, however, you will definitely end up paying more.

For instance, he could be using a crooked meter, may drive you somewhere secluded and then demand a huge fee, or simply rob you of your valuables.


What to do:

Stick to the official taxi queue or use Uber / Lyft / other ride hailing apps.

If you are rushing for time, make sure that the cab’s number and company are visible on the outside.

For long routes, have a rough price and route in mind. You could check with your hotel staff or do some online research to find this out.


5. The runaway taxi driver


How it works:

There have been reports of taxi drivers coming out of the cab to help you with your luggage in the boot.

However, they miss out one or two small bags intentionally and then quickly drive off with them before you realize.

Cities where this scam has been reported: Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Nevada, Maryland, New Orlenas, Baltimore, Louisiana, etc


What to do:

Before getting into a cab, take note of the driver’s name, car plate number and the taxi company.

When alighting, be sure to account for all your luggage in the boot, especially if the driver seems to be in a rush.

Ideally, keep all your valuables secure on you by using a money belt / hidden pouch.


6. The “longhauling” taxi driver


How it works:

As the name suggests, the long-haul cab driver takes you on a longer route than required to earn more fare off you.

This is a prevalent practice especially by the Nellis and Desert cab drivers in Las Vegas.

This is because the distance between the airport and the strip is pretty short, so the driver brings you along a longer route to earn extra fare.

These cab drivers are smart. They test you by asking if this is the first time you have been to Vegas. If you say yes, you will find yourself heading down South through a tunnel which can add up to $10 to the fare.


What to do:

Say this is not the first time you are in Vegas and to go by the Swenson and Tropicana way.

If the driver refuses,  you can refuse to pay and threaten to report him to the Nevada Taxicab Authority’s 24 hotline at 702-668-4005.


7. Taxi driver’s advice

Image source: huffingtonpost.com


How it works:

In Las Vegas especially, do be wary of your cab driver’s advice.

Some will advise you that the place you are not going is not good / over-commercialized / over hyped and that as a local, he knows of a better place.

Most likely that place is an establishment he gets kickbacks from. This is a common scam around the world (e.g. Morocco, India).

Also, if you are travelling as a single man, shady cab drivers will invariably recommend a massage parlour or strip-joint to check out. Avoid these places as they are likely unregulated and you may be at the mercy of shady criminals.


What to do:

Take cab drivers’ advice with a pinch of salt.


8. Taxi “arranger”


How it works:

There have been reports in Miami some years back where scammers at long taxi queues would claim to help you get a cab for $20 which will go towards your fare.

This is obviously a scam yet there are some tourists who still fall for it.


What to do:

Ignore these offers.


9. Pedicab

Image source: nbcnewyork.com


How it works:

The pedicab is just like the cyclos in Vietnam and tuk tuks in Thailand. They are a scam waiting to happen, a scourge of the road.

Their pricing system is tricky (think hidden charges in extremely small font) and complicated.

As such, you won’t know the final price till the end of your journey, which will be much more than what you initially expect.

This exists as legally, they can charge whatever they want. As long as it is stated on the card they show to you.


What to do:

Avoid at all costs.


10. Traffic smash and grab


How it works:

There have been reports of scammers hiding in street corners where there are long red lights.

They wait for rental cars and once they spot a potential target, they will look inside to see if you have anything in the back seats. If you do, they will smash your back windows, grab your stuff and then escape.

Fortunately, this is not as common as in places like Brazil or Malaysia, but it is still one to watch out for.

Of course, besides street corners / near long red lights, as long as you leave valuables exposed in your car, you are fair game for thieves anywhere.


What to do:

Be careful around tourist areas and the business districts in Hawaii.

If you have valuables, keep them securely with you in an anti-theft bag or in a money belt or hidden pouch). All else should be hidden in the boot.



1. Selling free newspapers

Image source: chicagotribune.com


How it works:

Can you imagine, people selling free newspapers just to earn a penny in New York City?

What they do, is to put today’s edition on the top of a stack of old newspapers. They tell you that it is free, and should you take one, they will pass you an old newspaper from below.

Although you do not pay, they will bug you for a tip, which they claim will go towards some charity or non-profit organization. This is a lie.


What to do:

Avoid and reject.


2. Candy boys / men


How it works:

You will find these candy boys on the New York Subway.

They will approach you to buy some chocolate / candies, and claim that they are fundraising for their basketball team / charity.

They will even show you papers / photos of their team, and how they just need that bit more money to get gear for themselves, and try to evoke your sympathies.

What really happens is that these boys will be passing a cut of the proceeds to a neighbourhood wholesaler rather than any basketball team / charity.

In fact, one even made USD $55,000 a year from this!


What to do:

It’s up to you to choose whether you would like to buy these. After all, if the price is right, why not?


3. Snatch thefts / robberies / muggings

How it works:

There are many variations of snatch thefts, depending on where it occurs.

The first is that of a simple snatch of your phone or bag from behind you or on the table, and then running into a getaway car to escape.

The second happens at restaurants, where victims are usually in a relaxed state and distracted in conversation.

  • A bag, wallet / purse or camera slung around the chair, or left on an adjacent seat are super easy pickings for thieves. The either steal it stealthily, or do a distract and grab.
  • If you have laid out your valuables on the table, another trick scammers use is to lay out a map over them and to ask for directions. When they take the map back, they will take your valuables along as well.

The third favourite spot for thieves are at hotels and airports, as you will be carrying all your valuables out and are usually tired or distracted with the customs / registration process.

A fourth spot is the seats beside a train’s doors are a great spot as well as the thief can time his escape perfectly just before the doors close.

Finally, a fifth spot is at the nightclubs and areas around, where tourists either do not keep their valuables in their line of sight are too drunk to be aware of their surroundings.


What to do:

Stay alert at crowded places, and even at seemingly safe places like at a restaurant or hotel:

  • Do not lay your valuables out on the table or expose them unnecessarily in public.
  • Keep your bags in your line of sight and as close as possible (e.g. on your lap when at a restaurant).
  • Ideally, use a money belt or hidden pouch to conceal your valuables securely.


While out walking / on a vehicle on the road or streets:

  • Watch out for motorcyclists who seem to tail you, especially if they have a pillion rider (accomplice).
  • Carry your valuables in a bag across your body with a cross body anti-theft bag, away from the road / windows of your car / bus.
  • Do not carry items in your hands such as a mobile phone when walking by the road or when beside the window in a car / bus.
  • Avoid wearing obvious jewelry which can be easily ripped off your body.



4. Rigged ATMs / card skimming

Image source: atg.wa.gov


How it works:

ATMs can be rigged with a card skimmer (to capture your card details) and a pin-hole camera to capture your PIN.

Another form is to install something in the card slot to block your card from coming out.

Should you head into the bank branch or somewhere else to seek help, the thief in hiding will now come out to release your card and escape with it.

Also, there have even reports of robbery at these machines, so do stay on the lookout.


What to do:

If possible, try to only use ATM machines in controlled places such as banks and in the day. Also, avoid those in dark streets and at tourist attractions.

Before use, watch out for suspicious looking characters lurking in the area.

Finally, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, we highly recommend the use of an anti-theft bag or a money belt / hidden pouch, which will make it almost impossible for anyone to steal from you.


5. Electronic pickpocket


How it works:

If you carry a credit card, your cards can get swiped by a thief with a RFID scanner.

How this works: credit cards / e-passports / key cards etc contain a RFID chip (you can find a symbol of radio waves on your card). This chip is what allows you to make contact-less payments / perform actions through radio waves.

However, a crook walking by with a device can swipe your credit card’s numbers and expiration date or personal information from other cards.


What to do:

Use a RFID blocking travel wallet or RFID blocking money belt or hidden pouch to store your valuables securely.


6. Fake front desk phone calls


How it works:

There have been many reports of this in Georgia (and also all around the country).

Scammers use smuggled phones acting as fake front desk personnel, calling guests in the wee hours to request for credit card information and there are different ways of doing so:

  • Method #1: they claim that the hotel’s computer system has crashed or that there is an error with the number, and a number of sleepy guests do get caught off guard.
  • Method #2: the scammer claims that he just wants to verify your card details on record. He will provide the last 4 digits of your card, which are obviously wrong. When you point out the error, he will act confused and ask you to tell him all the numbers.


What to do:

Do not provide your credit card details over the phone no matter the occasion. Cut the phone and check with the front desk if in doubt.


7. Room service

Image source: uk.businessinsider.com


How it works:

Room service charges are usually charged to the credit card on file with the hotel.

If the staff demands cash when delivering your food, double check with the reception.


What to do:

Double check with the front desk if asked to pay cash upfront for room service.


8. The bump, drop and spoiled item scam


How it works:

Similar to the earlier scam, this can occur in many variations.

One is where the scammer will knock into you and drop a pair of broken glasses (can also be a broken phone, etc), then claiming that you have broken it.

They usually do this in a crowded place as it is easier to execute.

Further, it is also easier to intimidate you by claiming loudly with an accusatory tone that you have broken the item.


What to do:

When caught in such a situation, ignore and walk off.

Or you could accuse the other guy of bumping into you and threaten to call the police to mediate. That should solve the problem.


9. Italian suit scam


How it works:

This is one that also happens in Italy / Europe and it goes like this.

A scammer will happen to be lost and approach you for directions to the airport, as he is flying back to Italy.

Should you help him, he will thank you, make some small chat and then offer you some suits at a low price. He claims to have too many of these and he would like you to have it as appreciation for your help.

If you accept it, this also helps him as it is a great hassle to bring all these back home.


What to do:

These suits are mere thrift store stuff and not worth the few hundreds the scammer will ask for. Firmly reject.


10. “Dynamic” prices at hotdog / food carts


How it works:

Beware of those food carts on the street which do not post their prices.

Often times, they price discriminate and charge tourists / foreigners a higher price.

If you smell something amiss at the price they offer, simply walk away and the price offered will drop.


What to do:

Buy from stalls with prices displayed or simply walk away if charged an exorbitant price.


11. Beggars with babies

Image source: nycvalues.blogspot.com


How it works:

It was reported in 2014 that there was a group of women who spent long hours on the streets begging, using babies / toddlers with signs claiming that they are jobless and hungry.

They would work in shifts, passing the babies / toddlers to the woman on the next shift.


What to do:

Ignore them (they could easily get government services but chose not to, as they prefer cash) to discourage such actions.


12. Timeshare scams


How it works:

How it works over here is that you will find well dressed salespeople offering you free / discounted tickets to tourist attractions.

However, the catch is that you have to attend a timeshare sales pitch.

What happens next is that you will be subject to high pressure sales techniques over the next two hours either make a full purchase or sign up for a paid trial.


What to do:

Do not bother partaking in timeshare sessions. The timeshare apartment is likely a poor investment.

Plus you will almost never get the free gift due to the onerous terms and conditions. Or you might even have to pay to receive the “free” gift.


13. White van speaker scam

Image source: bbb.org


How it works:

This is a really old scam that still exists (also in Canada) which targets both locals and tourists.

The scammers, working in groups of 3, will wear a company uniform and drive their van around.

They would approach you and explain that due to some corporate error (e.g. over-order by client; system error, etc), they are now left with many speakers which they need to clear soon.

As such, they are able to offer you at lower than retail prices if you are interested to buy.

Should you reject the offer, that’s when the high pressure sales tactics will come in. They will bombard you with fancy looking marketing collateral, technical jargon, hound you if you try to leave and finally, lower the price significantly.

Note that it is not just speakers which can be sold, anything else can be sold too.


What to do:

Reject such offers – these are poor quality speakers / items.


14. Watch my place at the bar scam

Image source: coolcousin.com


How it works:

This is a very simple yet ingenious scam.

A girl might chat you up at the bar, and then leave her bag there and ask you to help look after it, as she goes get a drink / to the toilet.

She heads over to the bartender, orders a drink and then calls / waves at you. Should you wave back, you have just acknowledged to the bartender to put the drink on your tab.


What to do:

It’s alright to meet new people in the bar, just be wary of such situations.


15. Victim turned robber scam


How it works:

This can turn out in many variations.

For instance, the scammer might approach you in a dark street and ask for help as he has just been robbed. Should you take your wallet out, the scammer’s accomplices will appear out of nowhere and snatch it away.

Besides a wallet, it can be anything, such as needing a phone to make emergency calls as the scammer’s phone has just been stolen, or simply asking what time it is and requesting you to check your phone, etc.


What to do:

Whenever you hear a “sob story”, walk off.

And as mentioned earlier, arm yourself with an anti-theft bag or a money belt or hidden pouch to make it impossible for thieves to steal from you.


16. Public WIFI cyber thief


How it works:

There have been many reports where users of free WIFI in public places have had their data / identity stolen.


What to do:

Use hard-wired connection instead of public WIFI.

If you really must use public WIFI, avoid logging into personal accounts such as emails or bank accounts. Also,

  • Verify the network name (some hackers set up working WIFIs with similar names to the bar / place you are at to use their WIFI, where they can track your data)
  • Only visit the site if it has https:// in the link address, as this means that the communication between your computer and the network is encrypted and can’t be read by a third party
  • For those willing to pay for security, use a VPN service. The VPN acts as a physical barrier between your computer the web, and it will encrypt your communication before sending ito the web
  • However, note that even encrypted information can be decoded, so be wary of what sites you use / what information you enter




1. Emergency numbers to call

Image source: boingboing.net


  • All emergencies: 911

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  1. Rac

    I was walking towards battery park to get the ticket to the statue of liberty. There was those people with blue coat. They asked me where we were going. I said it we are going to battery park to get the ticket to statue of liberty. She said the line is so long. I have to wait 3 hours just to get the ticket and 3 hours for the boat and she said for kids they require birth certificate to get the ticket. It sounded very odd to me and I told them that that was not true because I have been there before and we didn’t need them. The lady said rules has changed. I actually believed them. I asked her so if I take this tour will I be able to see the statue of liberty and Ellis Island. She said no. The boat will stop so that you can take a picture but you won’t be able to get in the island. After asking the price which was almost 200$+ for one kid and two adult. I told her we will go wait in the line for 3 hours and if they ask for birth certificate we won’t go. We went to battery park to get the ticket there was not even a long line. We asked the trooper if we need a birth certificate he said it was not needed. The total was 37$ to get the ticket for 3. Once we got our ticket after 30 minutes we were on our way to liberty island. I still can’t believe I was almost scammed.

    • Kim

      Your gut is usually right!

  2. Morris Belemans

    america–the failed hu$tling empire of hyper-aggressive thugs who cannot perceive a world where they compromise with anyone. America is a culture of domination and subjugation. A culture of greed and narcissism. It could never be the idealized America that its soft power sells in the form of Friends and the myriad of movies that paint America as a unique a beautiful place.

    It’s a spiteful, sleazy, ugly culture that inhabits that “nation”–business vulture/venture. From top to bottom the shyster people are rotten. It hasn’t spread, they have always been a rotten and selfish people. It’s why politically you can accomplish nothing. The poor that the Left love to idealize is just as nasty and as cruel as the elite who use them and throw them away like garbage.

    • AKt

      Morris, whichever country you are from, the worst days of America is still much better the greatest days of any other country in the world.


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