Here’s a list of European travel scams that have been around for years.  Just about everyone that travels has been exposed to some version of these.


ROME. The Dropped Keys on the subway.

This is a very common classic scam encountered during European travel. I was on the subway with my husband. We had our suitcases with us. The train arrived, doors opened, we entered.  We noticed a guy drop his keys on the train floor without getting on the train. While the guy was pretending to retrieve his keys he felt my husband’s ankles apparently looking for an ankle-belt with money. All the while my husband, suspecting a robbery, kept his hand firmly on his wallet. The doors closed and the potential thief was left on the platform. His efforts were in vain.

Public transportation vehicles are ideal places for pickpockets. The objective here is to pickpocket the victim just before the subway doors close so there is little he can do once the train leaves.

PALERMO, ITALY. The Independent Tour Guide.

A minivan with a “City Tour” sign was parked close to our hotel. We approached and asked the cost and what the tour entailed. After a long and detailed explanation he told us the cost was €60.00 per person. There were four of us. We knew this was an outrageously high price and we walked away. He pursued us and said the Hop-On-Hop-Off tour bus was also €60.00 per person plus an additional €2.00 per person for the audio tour and didn’t show you half of what he could. And because we were so nice he’d give us a discount. Eventually the price got down to less than half of the original quote. Still, we had grown suspicious and decided against his tour. A few blocks away we found the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus actually only charged €10.00 and no extra for the audio.  Here the objective is to get you right out of the hotel before you’ve had the chance to explore options.

PRAGUE. Wrong Change.

We had dinner at a sidewalk café in the beautiful central square in Prague. We paid the bill but the change was wrong. We brought this to the server’s attention and it was corrected.

A day later we had lunch there and the same thing happened. We met friends who told us the same thing happened to them. Apparently this place specialized in giving wrong change to tourists in the hope they won’t notice. Let’s say they give wrong change to 10 people and 8 or 9 notice it. That means 10 to 20% don’t notice and the waiter gets away with it. Not bad odds.

MADRID. The Rambunctious Kids.

European travel scams in Spain

Beautiful Madrid

I had just withdrawn €300 during my lunch hour because I was going away for the weekend. I thought I’d have lunch at a little salad place but would buy a magazine first to read while I ate. At the magazine stand two young guys horse-playing bumped into me. When I got to the restaurant I realized my wallet had been stolen. My thought is that I was followed from the bank and the two guys distracted me while a third lifted my wallet. I had to return to the bank for another €300. That was a very expensive weekend.

Share your classic scam story to help other travelers be aware.

Want to know more? Here are the 5 classic tourist scams and how to avoid them.  Also check out more travel scams in Europe as well as scams in Africa and Asia.


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