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During this hiatus from cruising, I thought it could be helpful if CC members shared their stories about various scams cruisers have encountered.  Please submit anything you may know of that would help alert the rest of us to be wary when dealing with others either onshore or onboard.

 

I will begin with a scam I encountered.  I once spent a week in Saint Thomas.  Many of the shops in Charlotte Amalie only open on days when there are cruise ships in port.  A friend wanted to buy a digital camera and we went to a camera shop downtown.  During his negotiations for the purchase price of the camera, the shop worker would not negotiate price but offered a free accessory that would equal the amount of the discount being sought.  After leaving the shop, we went directly to a nearby bar, got a drink and inspected the contents of the boxes in his bag.  To his surprise, the box containing the free accessory only had a rock in it.  We immediately returned to the shop and confronted the worker and obtained the promised accessory.  It was not until later that I realized they thought we were off a cruise ship and would not discover the deception until after we sailed.  Moral: always check your purchases before returning to the ship.

Edited by Daniel A
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11 minutes ago, Charles4515 said:

Onboard the biggest scam is the art auctions. The "art" is mass produced in factories. 

not the ones I purchased

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Pickpockets in Europe have a number of great scams that I've read about or heard about from others or experienced. Some common ones include:

 

  • The "bird poop" scam -- the scammer will approach you and, unbeknownst to you, squirt some unpleasant mixture on you. Then they will helpfully tell you that you have bird poop on your shirt and they will offer to help you clean it off. While you are distracted and your guard is down, their accomplice will pick your pocket or make off with your bag.
  • The "baby toss" scam -- the person, usually a woman and poorly dressed, will approach you with a baby wrapped in rags. She then will quickly toss the baby toward you -- your instinctive reaction is to catch it. Meanwhile, her accomplices (often small children) grab your wallet, camera, phone, etc in the confusion. After the crooks run away, the victim discovers that the “baby” is nothing more than a doll.
  • The newspaper/cardboard scam -- you find yourself approached by a group of children, waving newspapers and cardboard signs. If you don't move away aggressively, they will surround you and, using the papers/signs to distract you or shield their hands, they will rifle your pockets. (Experienced this one myself on the Spanish steps in Rome...)

 

 

 

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Another scam used by taxi drivers is what I like to call the "deflation" scam. It works like this:

 

The taxi driver tells you as you are approaching your destination what the fare is. Let's say it is 14 euros. Since many travelers don't have a lot of small change or bills, the tourist may hand the driver a 20 euro note, expecting change.

 

The driver executes a quick sleight of hand and then holds up a 10 euro note. "Sorry, you owe me another 4 euros."

 

Often people are already confused about foreign bills and/or distracted and/or tired and will assume that they just made a mistake. Or, they may know they weren't mistaken, but they have no way to prove it, and the driver starts to get angry. So they hand over the extra.

 

How to avoid:  When you get out the actual currency note to pay, hand it to the driver flat (not folded) with the denomination clearly visible and say to them "Here is 20 euros -- can you please give me 5 back (assuming you want to tip a euro, which would be fairly standard).

 

Edited to add:  If you know you gave the right amount and the driver is putting on an act, you can also pull out your cell phone and ask them for the number to call to report an issue. Also ask for their taxi registration number and look as if you will carry through. At this point they may back down.

 

Edited by cruisemom42
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1 hour ago, cruisemom42 said:

Pickpockets in Europe have a number of great scams that I've read about or heard about from others or experienced. Some common ones include:

 

  • The newspaper/cardboard scam -- you find yourself approached by a group of children, waving newspapers and cardboard signs. If you don't move away aggressively, they will surround you and, using the papers/signs to distract you or shield their hands, they will rifle your pockets. (Experienced this one myself on the Spanish steps in Rome...)

A man from my cruise group had this happen at the Arch of Constantine.  It was an adult woman who picked his pocket.  Fortunately, a group of us detained the woman and the kids ran away.  He got his wallet back but the police wouldn't arrest her as they knew the victim would never return to court.  She was merely told to go somewhere else not on his post.

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2 hours ago, cruisemom42 said:

Another scam used by taxi drivers is what I like to call the "deflation" scam. It works like this:

 

The taxi driver tells you as you are approaching your destination what the fare is. Let's say it is 14 euros. Since many travelers don't have a lot of small change or bills, the tourist may hand the driver a 20 euro note, expecting change.

 

The driver executes a quick sleight of hand and then holds up a 10 euro note. "Sorry, you owe me another 4 euros."

 

Often people are already confused about foreign bills and/or distracted and/or tired and will assume that they just made a mistake. Or, they may know they weren't mistaken, but they have no way to prove it, and the driver starts to get angry. So they hand over the extra.

 

How to avoid:  When you get out the actual currency note to pay, hand it to the driver flat (not folded) with the denomination clearly visible and say to them "Here is 20 euros -- can you please give me 5 back (assuming you want to tip a euro, which would be fairly standard).

 

Edited to add:  If you know you gave the right amount and the driver is putting on an act, you can also pull out your cell phone and ask them for the number to call to report an issue. Also ask for their taxi registration number and look as if you will carry through. At this point they may back down.

 

We had a different taxi scam in Athens. We asked what the fare would be to the museum that we wished to go to, and were quoted a fare. When we got there the meter was much higher. He shrugged and said something about a lot of traffic.

 

And what are you supposed to do in a foreign country?

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3 minutes ago, ontheweb said:

We had a different taxi scam in Athens. We asked what the fare would be to the museum that we wished to go to, and were quoted a fare. When we got there the meter was much higher. He shrugged and said something about a lot of traffic.

 

And what are you supposed to do in a foreign country?

 

Was it a lot higher or only a little higher?

 

If he was going by the meter, then often it is true that with traffic the rate varies. Taxi meters count both distance traveled and time spent sitting (in traffic, at lights, or if you ask them to wait while you go grab something from the grocery store...).

 

 

 

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Just now, cruisemom42 said:

 

Was it a lot higher or only a little higher?

 

If he was going by the meter, then often it is true that with traffic the rate varies. Taxi meters count both distance traveled and time spent sitting (in traffic, at lights, or if you ask them to wait while you go grab something from the grocery store...).

 

 

 

It was a lot higher. There was no way the meter was going to be anywhere close to the price he had originally quoted.

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Just now, ontheweb said:

It was a lot higher. There was no way the meter was going to be anywhere close to the price he had originally quoted.

 

Then that was a scam, I guess. In some cities taxi meters have two rates, a day rate and an "after hours" rate that carries a premium. He (or she) may have switched the rate on you.

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3 hours ago, cruisemom42 said:

The "bird poop" scam -- the scammer will approach you and, unbeknownst to you, squirt some unpleasant mixture on you. Then they will helpfully tell you that you have bird poop on your shirt and they will offer to help you clean it off. While you are distracted and your guard is down, their accomplice will pick your pocket or make off with your bag.

That one got us both at the same time on a quiet residential street in Barcelona. Didn't even know it til it was time to pay for a special lunch. After that we keep a debit and a credit card and about $100 in the document case with our credit card which is NEVER carried with us.

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We must have hit the Place de la Concorde just as a training seminar let out.  Within 20 minutes we were approached with the following:  a young woman walking in front of us suddenly bends down and picks up a gold ring from the pavement - she asks us if we had dropped it —- then asks if we want it to either keep or turn into the police - saying that she has “no papers” and therefore cannot go to the police, but perhaps we could give her something so she could buy a sandwich - not having had anything to eat all day.  The point seems to be to get you to pull out a wallet so her nearby accomplice can do a grab-and-run.  This happened twice while on the Place - then once as we walked across the bridge towards the Senat then three more times as we walked along the Left Bank.

 

Fortunately our antennae were activated and we did not bite.

Edited by navybankerteacher
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What an interesting discussion thread.
Many thanks for starting this!

 

I've previously heard of some of these,

but there are always new ones, aren't they?!

It's amazing how bold and cunning they are.

 

Keep your street smarts turned ON!

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8 hours ago, Daniel A said:

During this hiatus from cruising, I thought it could be helpful if CC members shared their stories about various scams cruisers have encountered.  Please submit anything you may know of that would help alert the rest of us to be wary when dealing with others either onshore or onboard.

 

I will begin with a scam I encountered.  I once spent a week in Saint Thomas.  Many of the shops in Charlotte Amalie only open on days when there are cruise ships in port.  A friend wanted to buy a digital camera and we went to a camera shop downtown.  During his negotiations for the purchase price of the camera, the shop worker would not negotiate price but offered a free accessory that would equal the amount of the discount being sought.  After leaving the shop, we went directly to a nearby bar, got a drink and inspected the contents of the boxes in his bag.  To his surprise, the box containing the free accessory only had a rock in it.  We immediately returned to the shop and confronted the worker and obtained the promised accessory.  It was not until later that I realized they thought we were off a cruise ship and would not discover the deception until after we sailed.  Moral: always check your purchases before returning to the ship.

 

... so ... you didn't want the rock, then?

- Joel

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6 hours ago, cruisemom42 said:

 

Was it a lot higher or only a little higher?

 

If he was going by the meter, then often it is true that with traffic the rate varies. Taxi meters count both distance traveled and time spent sitting (in traffic, at lights, or if you ask them to wait while you go grab something from the grocery store...).

 

 

 

We took a taxi when we were in Curaçao in October 2019.We were told before we entered that the fare was $5.00.When we arrived the driver said it was $5 per person which we paid.

Returning to the ship with another taxi driver it was $5 for both of us.

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10 hours ago, Charles4515 said:

Onboard the biggest scam is the art auctions. The "art" is mass produced in factories. 

Not if it is original -  we've bought two Chris DeRubeis pieces.  Unfortunately, we had to sale them later when we moved to a smaller space that wouldn't fit them.  

 

We've also bought art that isn't original, yes mass produced in limited numbers, but still signed and numbered.  If you like it and enjoy it, buy it.  We've bought other pieces over the years and sold them as we bought other pieces.  Even if we took what you would call a loss - at least we enjoyed that piece hanging on our wall for $40/year.  

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We had one in Rome when taking the train to the cruise port. As we were waiting for the train with our luggage a woman came up and started making conversation with us in English. When the train arrived and we started to the stairs she yanked the luggage out of our hands, strode off to a compartment, put it down and held out her hand demanding a tip. We finally did give a couple coins just to get her to go away, which I’m sure is what she was after.

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58 minutes ago, sanger727 said:

We had one in Rome when taking the train to the cruise port. As we were waiting for the train with our luggage a woman came up and started making conversation with us in English. When the train arrived and we started to the stairs she yanked the luggage out of our hands, strode off to a compartment, put it down and held out her hand demanding a tip. We finally did give a couple coins just to get her to go away, which I’m sure is what she was after.

 

Same thing happened to us maybe 20 years ago?  Except we were taking a train to Venice.  We were actually warned of this ahead of time so Mrs Ldubs said "oh heck no" and told her to get lost. 

 

You know, I want to "like" many of these scam stories, but I don't really want to like them.   Does that make sense.  haha.   

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  • 4 weeks later...

Mine wasn't on a cruise, but I was travelling. I experienced the pick pockets with the paper in London, luckily we stopped them from taking a friends phone. In Malaysia we got a taxi to the Petronas Tower and the taxi driver told us there was a 150 Ringgit more then what was on the meter because of where he dropped us off. We refused to pay so he wanted our hotel details to collect the money later. We gave him the amount the meter said, and got out of there as quick as we could.

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1 hour ago, TT81 said:

Mine wasn't on a cruise, but I was travelling. I experienced the pick pockets with the paper in London, luckily we stopped them from taking a friends phone. In Malaysia we got a taxi to the Petronas Tower and the taxi driver told us there was a 150 Ringgit more then what was on the meter because of where he dropped us off. We refused to pay so he wanted our hotel details to collect the money later. We gave him the amount the meter said, and got out of there as quick as we could.

 

I hate to tell you but taxi scams are practiced all over the world - including the United States.  I live in Vegas and the scam here is called long hauling.  If you take a taxi from the airport to your hotel or to your home, there are 2 routes that the driver can take.  Both get you to your destination but one is significantly longer than the other.  For example, the  short route from the airport to the Encore Hotel is ~4 miles.  The long route from the airport to the Encore is ~11 miles.  The drivers frequently take visitors the long way because the visitors don't know any better.  Locals tell them which which route to take and save money.  If I take a cab from my home to the airport, the route that the drivers want to take me is ~4 miles longer than the one I tell them to take.  Both examples make a major difference in the cab fare.  Scams are everywhere including your home town.

 

DON

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2 minutes ago, donaldsc said:

 

I hate to tell you but taxi scams are practiced all over the world - including the United States.  I live in Vegas and the scam here is called long hauling.  If you take a taxi from the airport to your hotel or to your home, there are 2 routes that the driver can take.  Both get you to your destination but one is significantly longer than the other.  For example, the  short route from the airport to the Encore Hotel is ~4 miles.  The long route from the airport to the Encore is ~11 miles.  The drivers frequently take visitors the long way because the visitors don't know any better.  Locals tell them which which route to take and save money.  If I take a cab from my home to the airport, the route that the drivers want to take me is ~4 miles longer than the one I tell them to take.  Both examples make a major difference in the cab fare.  Scams are everywhere including your home town.

 

DON

I don't have a smartphone but would WAZE defeat that scam?

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2 minutes ago, Daniel A said:

I don't have a smartphone but would WAZE defeat that scam?

 

I checked w Google Maps.  Google Maps does show the shorter route but you would have to know about the possibility of the scam before you got into the cab and most people would not do it.  As far as the route from my house to the airport, the route shown is the longer route,  Bottom line is whether you would actually check the route before you got into the cab.

 

DON

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8 hours ago, donaldsc said:

 

I checked w Google Maps.  Google Maps does show the shorter route but you would have to know about the possibility of the scam before you got into the cab and most people would not do it.  As far as the route from my house to the airport, the route shown is the longer route,  Bottom line is whether you would actually check the route before you got into the cab.

 

DON

I was thinking that one could use the smartphone app while in the taxi.  It should track you in real time.  I don't have a smartphone, so I'm not sure how it all works.  The most I know about it is my sister-in-law always uses it when she's back seat driving.  😊

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1 hour ago, Daniel A said:

I was thinking that one could use the smartphone app while in the taxi.  It should track you in real time.  I don't have a smartphone, so I'm not sure how it all works.  The most I know about it is my sister-in-law always uses it when she's back seat driving.  😊

 

I don't use Google Maps so I don't know if it provides alternative routes but with Apple Maps I see three routes and the times. In a taxi I usually do follow the taxi on my smartphone. However these days I use Uber or Lyft where available. Those are not metered besides lower cost I don't have to deal with taxi driver scams. Last time a taxi driver tried to scam me was before there was Uber I knew the route as drove it regular. I had also taken a taxi on the route a bunch of times. I only took a taxi because my car was in the shop. My solution in that instance was simple. No tip. I always tip taxis 20%.  In that instance it was a wash. Without a tip was about the same as what the fare should have been. When I travel to places I have not been and know I am going to take a taxi  and from one known piont to another like the airport to a hotel I use the Taxifinder website to find out what the fares should be.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Daniel A said:

I was thinking that one could use the smartphone app while in the taxi.  It should track you in real time.  I don't have a smartphone, so I'm not sure how it all works.  The most I know about it is my sister-in-law always uses it when she's back seat driving.  😊

I also do not have a smartphone.

 

Years ago we were transferring my mother from a rehab facility to a nursing home way upstate nearer one of my younger brothers. We were getting close when there were signs to expect delays. My son's smartphone was able to find an alternate route that it said was now quicker.

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