Moneychanger on the street- Quick hands and less money given to you. I have seen slight of hand scammers, runners that take it all, and even 'legitimate' shops in London and other parts of Europe that have horrible/borderline criminal exchange rates (10-30% lower than interbank rates) while displaying a "commission free" sign! Try to use reputable/official money changers, be aware of the exchange rate and count your money before you leave the counter.
ATM card clone- Scammers are getting high tech. A scanning device is attached to an ATM machine where you insert your card (it’s not as obvious as you would think). Scammers are watching or videorecording to get your PIN. If something doesn’t look right at the ATM, just use another one. Always hold your other hand over the keypad since they need your PIN for the scam to work.
Infamous ‘Tourist Tax’ scam/theft is probably the most widespread one around the world. This is where vendors charge you extra, perhaps for not being 'local', speaking the language or they just want to overcharge you. While this is often a small amount above the regular price, the gelato shops in Italy for instance have a reputation of vastly overcharging tourists for ice cream once it’s handed over… don't be shy about asking for a price BEFORE you buy something, no matter where you are travelling. I also recall taking the same public bus in Mexico for around 1 week and was never charged the same amount twice!
Bait and switch- Street vendors in Europe or electronics shops on Nathan road in Hong Kong are famous for this. The scam is usually done for high end electronics such as digital cameras or smartphones, which are offered to you at amazing prices. After agreeing and taking your money you are either given something else that is not worth nearly as much as you paid or in the case of street vendors, the nice box you saw the vendor put the phone inside, does not actually have the phone in it…
Need your Help!- Car broken down, things stolen, stranded.... etc. There are many variations of this scam and it happens just about everywhere. I’m not saying that you should never help someone in need, but how well do you know this person and do you really think they are telling you the truth…. Your decision
Wrong public transportation ticket- This happened in Eastern Europe but could also occur in other parts of the world. This is done by individuals claiming to be a ticket inspector (maybe you didn’t stamp your ticket right away) or groups that can intimidate you for money saying you do not have the correct ticket (even though you do) and you must pay the ‘fine’ immediately. Mexico, Italy and Indonesia might have actual police officers doing this scam.
Cheap Counterfeit goods- You usually get offered these at 'bargain' prices as vendors are being up front about it being counterfeit, but some try to pass it off as genuine. The ten dollar NorthFace backpack in Thailand is not genuine and will probably start falling apart before the end of your trip....
Beware of the overnight trains in Europe, India and Asia. Thieves abound especially trains originating from or going to Italy. We had at least 3 people trying to enter our sleeper compartment on the night train out of Milan. On arrival in Paris we heard from other passengers that some of their bags had been stolen (they didn’t lock the sleeper compartment door). I’ve also heard about people having things stolen during overnight buses while stowed in the compartments below, so keep your valuables close to you. Also reconsider leaving valuables in your room; use lockers if possible
Shortchanged/counterfeit money - Try to get familiar with the money so people cannot shortchange you for bills that look similar, but have a lower value (i.e. 5 dirhams instead of 50 or 500 dirham notes). My cousin even had counterfeit money given to him as change in Italy
Jet ski scam – They claim you returned it damaged, especially in Thailand. The owner will point out a crack or some kind of damage on the bottom of the jet ski (maybe not even the one you rented) and demand thousands of dollars/euros/pounds for repairs. If they have your passport as collateral, this is a hard scam to get out of without lighter pockets. The scam has worked so many times, they will not give up easily. You should call the tourist police right away and try to have the police get your passport back. Unfortunately, Thai police have reportedly been in on this scam for a cut of the profits. Note, this scam can also happen with motorbike and car rentals (especially from small businesses or individuals) but is most frequently used with jet ski rentals.
Cheap bus tickets in Thailand- if the price is too low it’s probably a scam. They stopped the van and demanded more money before taking us to the actual location of the long distance bus. In the end we paid around what all the other vendors were charging for the tickets, so this scam was more of an annoyance and frustration than anything else
Taxi meter broken- this is another of the most common scams and can happen anywhere in the world. Cabbies have a reputation for ripping people off, so it’s best if you know what the fare should cost beforehand and insist on the driver using the meter (or get out of the vehicle and take another taxi or tuktuk that will use their meter)
Ask for prices and agree on price FIRST -this is probably one of the most important traits for not getting ripped off while traveling. You can ask your hotel/backpackers advice on transportation, street food or what a particular souvenir should cost. Having a general idea of what things cost can help you avoid getting ripped off. I also try to shop at street market stalls, stores and even grocery stores with prices marked. This way there will not be any surprises when going to pay
Be extremely cautious of anything that involves buying something to resell ‘back home’ or elsewhere ‘to make money’. This scam can be for artwork in Europe, antiques in China or Central America, gems in Africa or Asia… too many variations to list (also see the Found Ring scam below). Just keep in mind you are not on holiday to buy and sell things, so don’t let these scammers appeal to the idea of making some ‘quick money’
Be aware of these other scams: