Why do "Tourist Scams" seem to be everywhere but the United States?

I’ve seen similar lists but this list seems to represent what’s on most of them

As you can see, besides one or two examples almost all the tourist scams are international, and when I’m on vacation in the United States I rarely see scammers except for the normal “Guys asking for change” kind of thing.

That is far from a comprehensive source and I have seen several of those attempted on the West coast. Mostly it can probably be attributed to a slightly lower differential in wealth. But who knows what metrics they used to decide what is “common” or what “common” even indicates.

The fake parking lot attendant scam is the one I see most often here in Seattle.

Runs and hides

Verstuurd vanaf mijn Moto G (4) met Tapatalk

I suspect it’s got a lot to do with the source. Note that they tend to list individual cities for specific countries: for example, one of the scams it indicates as being frequent in “Madrid and Delhi” is typical of Spain, yes (woman selling rosemary)… but it’s stereotypical of Seville (specifically the area in front of the cathedral), the plant involved isn’t rosemary but basil, and most of those women would rip your eyes out if you called them “old”. But hey, who gives a shit about an error of some 500km, right?

The people making that site don’t indicate where are they based, but you know what… I don’t think it’s Spain. Or Italy (what, all their scammers operate exclusively in Rome?), India (again, everybody there lives in New Delhi), …

Note that the City of Seattle won’t even investigate most of these crimes, which would also impact any statistics this site used. Often the Police department won’t even investigate residential burglaries unless more than ~$20,000 or something like a firearm was stolen due to resource constraints. (As I found out when someone kicked in my door) even if you do need to call.

For most of the crimes on the original link the Seattle Police will just refer you to this web page.


I’ve been the victim, some years ago, of the fake parking attendant scam, when I went to the convention center in Philadelphia. Pisses me off to this day.

“Well, Arkcon, betcha you won’t fall for that again anytime soon.”

Yeah, but I fell for it once. I’m not from out if the country, or elderly (or wasn’t then.)

I’d expect things like that are common enough in major US tourist cities.

So you don’t think there are tourist scams in the U.S, eh?
Would you, uh, like to buy a bridge?
or, for something you could actually find today in NYC, make a friendly wager?

I think the type of scam must end up depending to some extent on who the anticipated targets are.

The “tourist scam” that concerns me most regarding the United States is the old gun-in-the-face trick.

To some extent, tourist scams are everywhere. You just don’t fall for the ones in the US because you’re not a good target.

Tourist scams target people who are out of their element. They’re in a new place, they don’t speaking the language, they’re obviously targetable because they’re carrying around maps and cameras and don’t know where they are.

You’re looking at an English language website directed at Americans going to other countries. A website in Mandarin, or Hindi, directed at Chinese or Indians traveling to the US would list different scams.

To some extent, the regulatory stability of the US does help prevent them.

Lots of countries have no taxi meters and you always have to negotiate the price before you get in. That doesn’t happen in the US because taxis are well-regulated.

Countries that have multiple currencies, some past devaluation of currency, or a mix of old and new money make money scams much easier to pull. That’s a lot harder to run in the US because we have relatively simple currency that hasn’t changed in a long time. There aren’t any “old” dollars around that are worth 100th of a “new” dollar.

More developing countries have less established financial systems, so you have to carry around more cash, which makes pickpocketing more of a threat. And so on.

I still see three-card monte or the cups game in NYC and LA. NYC used to have cabs with “fast” meters, and I had one from Washington to BWI a few years ago–told the driver I wasn’t paying what was on the meter, he’d get what I paid for the inbound trip.

I also used to get the “drive the sucker around” move, but rarely–works best on a Manhattanite going to the outer boroughs, and tough to pull off now what with everyone having GPS in their pockets.

A variation on the taxi scam used to be (maybe still is) pretty common at the NYC airports. Shady drivers would try to divert you into their cars rather than the official taxi line, and even if they were giving you a good price to begin with (often they were not), who knows what it would be when you got into the city.

**Why do “Tourist Scams” seem to be everywhere but the United States? **

Because in the US you never know when your scam target might just pull a gun and shoot your dumb ass. All of the pick pocketing strategies fall away when even the little old lady you followed out of Wal Mart might zip you up.

Sigh. 'Round Chicago the first response BY ANYBODY’S GRANNY is, “Why are so stupid to fall for that?” We work to keep up standards, and anyone who doesn’t meet them deserves what he gets. I assume it’s the same the world over.

Wife took an Archaeology class where they studied the night court records in Egypt 3000 years ago. She claimed they could be the script for TV’s Night Court: same “trying to rip off an established prostitute,” same “urinating on a public monument,” same “lost money while gambling with a guy someone from town would know not to gamble with.” Fine was the same, “Fifty bucks and time served.”

After all, municipalities work to maintain standards, whether you, a tourist, cares.

Ok then, why do tourist scams seem to be everywhere but Australia?

Please note that my entry was based on anecdotes 1, 40, and 3000 years old. YMMV.

I may be a gimp, but I spend too much of my life outside of Walmart, looking for something interesting because I;m bored. Bored old folk are a crimefighting tool. “Suicidal” old folk who’d like to see some punk go to jail for a laff are better. Use the tools the Gods gave you and enlist us.

Oh, and look at the surveys where America’s Midwest is described as mostly friendly and polite to a fault before you compare us to Somalia.

Not just that - but country bumpkins notwithstanding, most people live in urban areas in the USA, and one is not significantly different from another (at least for people who can afford to travel). Also, it is often harder to tell visitors, and except maybe for a few locations - Orlando, NYC, LA, Frisco, Las Vegas, etc. - the number of lost visitors wandering the streets is probably much smaller than the number of locals. So the opportunity to exploit naivete about the local situation is much more limited, as opposed to, say, some European city where foreign tourists are legion and stand out by clothes and behaviour.

Plus as the old gun-in-the-face trick comment demonstrates, Europe is much harder on physical violence but less so on property crimes, so European crooks are more schooled in the art of separating suckers from money in a way US crooks have never had to learn…

Must also suggest that toruism is a really big business for some countries and they would put more effort into minimizing violence against visitors/…

Only back then you had to herd 50 real bucks up to the cashier’s desk.

In the U.S., I have had the following pulled on me:

-Guy “shines” my shoes (I was actually wearing sneakers) and then demands payment. (Chicago)

-Guy approaches me with a gen-u-wine gold watch he found in a taxi and offers to sell it to me, cheap. (New York)

The first is labelled as “Istanbul” in the list and the second is labelled as “Paris”, but apparently they don’t have a monopoly on those scams.