Fake gladiators and rip-off taxi drivers targeting tourists – a guide to holiday scams | Personal Finance | Finance

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Scammers circulating tourism hot spots, from fake gladiators on the steps of the Colosseum to rip off airport taxis, are picking the pockets of holidaymakers.

Britons visitors to popular summer destinations are providing a steady stream of potential victims, according to a new warning.

Due to being unfamiliar with the local language, currency, and surroundings, tourists can be more vulnerable to deception and manipulation.

Magdalena Petrusic, Travel Expert from Colosseum Tours & Tickets, has identified the most common types of tourist scams to watch out for.

She said: “European attractions experience peak tourist traffic during the summer months when families go on vacation, and the weather is generally favourable. Whilst there are common types of scams that will circulate throughout the year, there are also specific scams that will occur more frequently in certain tourist hotspots. Therefore, it is important to be aware of this if you are planning to visit one of the places rife with scams.”

Fake gladiator scams – Colosseum, Rome

Rome’s Polizia di Stato police force has highlighted how foreign tourists are having up to 500 euros extorted from them by people posing as Roman soldiers and gladiators for selfies.

Visitors are invited to take an ‘imperial selfie’ with the characters who then put pressure on them to hand over cash.

Magdalena said: “This has long been a problem, with many tourists snapping photos with them, unaware that they will be charged.

“It is essential to understand that you should never have to pay someone to take a photo as it is illegal.”


Pickpocketing – Las Ramblas, Barcelona

Pickpocketing is a common scam that occurs in many tourist hotspots, including the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Trevi Fountain in Rome.

However, Las Ramblas in Barcelona is reportedly the worst for pickpocketing as thieves continue nabbing possessions from people’s pockets.

Las Ramblas is crowded all year round; its busiest time is during the peak summer season.

Research revealed the famous street had more than 3,270 reviews mentioning pickpockets on the famous street, which is first on many tourists’ checklists, the highest across Europe.

Magdalena said: “If you are heading to the Catalonian capital, ensure that all of your valuables are tightly zipped away in a bag or purse when you’re in tourist areas. Zips on bags should also face inward where possible.”

Taxi scams – Charles de Gaulle Airport, France

Airport taxi drivers will take longer routes of claim their meter is broken as a ruse to demand a higher fare.

Rogue drivers have been seen tempting visitors out of the queues for official taxi services outside Charles de Gaulle airport.

They will have no visible taxi meter in their car, which means visitors risk being hit with an large unexpected fare.

Magdalena said: “To avoid being a victim of this scam, always ensure the taxi you take gives you a quoted price before agreeing on the ride, and also provide the car with a proper meter inside that can be visible to passengers.”


Credit card scams – Budapest, Hungary

There is a long history of credit card scams, particularly in Budapest.

Magadalena said: “If you are paying by credit card in an offline store, make sure that the amount the seller enters on the terminal is the same as the price of the product or souvenir you are buying and that the amount deducted is in the correct currency.

“Never let someone take your credit card off you and out of sight, as this can also lead to the risk of credit card cloning or further unauthorised transactions.”

Buskers and beggars scam – Germany, Berlin

Across German cities, particularly Berlin, you will often find multiple buskers and beggars asking for money or food.

While most of them are harmless and genuinely in need, a few of them can be violent and can do anything to snatch your belongings. Some may try to engage you in conversations while their companions steal your bag.

Magdalena said: “You will need to keep an eye out for Alexanderplatz in Berlin and parks in Kreuzberg. The Hasenbergal district around the main station in Munich is also a very busy area that can put you at risk.

“Meanwhile, in Hamburg, be cautious around the Munckebergstrasse central station on the Reeperbahn.”