Common Tourist Scams and How to Avoid Them

Walking along the Seine last weekend I was approached multiple times — in just a few minutes — with the same attempted scam.

A guy walks up, ‘notices’ a ring on the ground. Calls for your attention. If you let it play out, he asks you if it’s yours. When you say no he plays up how great it is, how it’s his lucky day, but that he’s in need of cash quickly and can’t get to a jeweler. He’ll grudgingly sell this very expensive piece to you for just 50 euros. Of course it’s worth almost nothing. But people are greedy and get taken. The scam must work, since scammers are out around Paris doing this all day, every day.

The first two who tried it on me weren’t very good. The best would come up from behind and grab your attention, it’s possible that you dropped it then. These were approaching me from in front, the rings were in front of me, it’s not even plausible they ‘thought’ the ring might have been mine. One I even saw placing the ring on the ground in the first place.

But if you haven’t had this scam pulled on you in awhile, it’s possible to be thrown off guard. But having heard of it, it won’t trick you when it happens to you.

That’s the Paris ring scam but there are many more. I’ve been fortunate that last month in Malaysia was the first time anyone tried to pick my pocket. And it was in a temple, no less! I’ve gone pretty well unaccosted even along Las Ramblas in Barcelona. But I try to keep aware, and I’ve heard stories of so many scams that I at least hope they’ll resonate and be conjured when they’re tried on me.

Another famous one is the Chinese tea ceremony, this one is common in Shanghai and in Beijing. A young girl, or occasionally young guy, will approach you and try to connect. Perhaps you’ve come out of a store, they’ll mention they had just been inside. They notice you’re American and they’ve been studying English. They’d love to practice English with you! And in exchange they’d love to show you around the city.

Maybe you’re on guard a bit, especially if you go into some shops together, you think they might be trying to get you to buy things (they get a commission). But they’ll spend time building trust, and when you’re enjoying your time together they’ll suggest a tea ceremony. It’s usually short, just a few minutes, but enjoyable enough. The scam is you’ll be presented with a bill for hundreds of dollars.

If you’ve found yourself in this position — it’s easy to want to be friendly with locals, I tend not to be trusting of people but also realize that if I never engage people along my travels I’ll lose out on many experiences so I can imagine forcing myself to fall for something like this — then the correct approach is to throw down an appropriate amount of money and leave.

Your companion will feign ignorance and shock at the price. You might ask for the police, although depending on where you are the police could well be in on the scam (although they may just suggest settling for a smaller amount rather than trying to enforce the price).

I suppose paying by credit card is another option, even sign it ‘under duress’ but that may not be necessary considering how frequently this scam is run, how much-discussed it is online, you may win a dispute of the charges when you return home. In many ways I like this approach even better because the most important thing when in the midst of a scam is not to get hurt, not to be too confrontational, to end it and move on.

But avoiding scams in the first place is all about being aware and not being overly trusting. When you’re seated in a restaurant by a window, when a guy taps on the glass to get your attention and motions at his wrist as though to ask you the time, he might not actually need you to tell him the time. Just shrug, and be aware of everything going on around you, because he might just be trying to distract you while his partner is inside the restaurant taking your bags.

The one scam I always have a hard time avoiding is ‘this attraction is closed, but we can show you another one’ that’s so common in Thailand. Someone dressed in a uniform says you can’t visit the temple or site you’ve come to see, it’s closed ‘for a special religious holiday and only open to Thais today’ or ‘because of the Prince’s birthday’. Of course, he can help. He can direct you to another similar site that’s open, and his friend in a tuk tuk will take you there — cheap. Usually they’re just trying to get you into the tuk tuk so you can be taken to expensive gem shops in hopes of commission.

These touts are an annoyance, one of the reasons I sometimes like tour guides in new cities where I’m truly unfamiliar isn’t just for the efficiency of getting around but in some ways you’re hiring your own tout to keep away the rest of the touts, it can just lead to less stress and greater enjoyment.

WikiTravel has an extensive discussion of more common scams. Lucky was almost taken in by the shoe shine scam and the tuk tuk scam.

My own rough advice, though I hardly consider myself an expert in the area but rather just someone who does this a lot.

  • Don’t carry all your important papers with you. If you must carry your passport, consider carrying just a color photocopy (and always keep a copy ‘in the cloud’ such as by emailing it to yourself at a gmail account). If you must carry your real passport, leave a color copy behind.

  • Split up your money. Don’t carry it all with you. Don’t carry all of your credit cards with you. And the money you’re carrying, keep it in different places. Some of it may be in a wallet, other money in a pocket, so if it’s taken it’s not all taken. And so that you can claim to have less with you than you have, scammers might settle for what they can get from you quickly.

  • If I’m in a dangerous place I want to be there with a local that I trust. I also do have hiding places for money, a belt where a disguised interior can hold cash. But mostly it’s just about being alert, not going places especially alone and at night that your mother would warn against, and not attracting too much attention to yourself.

Now let’s be careful out there!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. When I travel overseas I always bring my money belt. Inside the money belt goes my passport, credit card, debit card, driver’s license, and most my cash. I then carry a nominal amount of cash in my bag, maybe a hundred dollars or so. I then don’t worry about pick pockets. I think the best advice to avoid a scam is to be cautious about anything that seems or feels out of the ordinary. Trust your gut and wear a money belt.

  2. I’ll take it a step further. This happened to us in EZE last month. The scammers (a husband/wife type) squirt what looks like bird dung from what appears to be above. Then, they just so happen to want to help you clean off. They had tissues and water, and they kept spinning us around as they tried to help clean us. My wife and I were very aware and she held on to her purse zippers, and me, my hand was in my pocket holding my wallet. We won this round.

    Be aware. Be very aware in EZE.
    P.S. We managed in Paris and Barcelona,.

  3. Keeping alert is the most important action you can take to protect against scams and pickpockets.

    We try to remain seemingly aloof from what is happening around us…if someone inexplicably falls, walk around them; if a stranger in the street wants to sell something or practice English, continue walking without speaking. We have probably missed some excellent experiences, but we’ve also never been taken by shysters.

    In risky areas I carry two wallets. The thin one in my front pants pocket is “real”, the cheap fat one (stuffed with misc papers and fake credit cards, and a small amount of the local currency) in the back pocket is for the pickpockets.

  4. I had that ring scam done to me in Paris. This woman (a gypsy) comes up to me with a ring; says something in broken english about finding this ring on the ground and puts it into my hand. It looks pretty nice, but it’s made of metal. Then she says its mine if I give her something. Of course I didn’t want it, though it’s pretty compelling so I can see why people fall for it, but I just gave it back and said NO. I was more worried about getting robbed or pick-pocketed once I took my very small wallet out.

    I hate this kind of stuff when I travel, but unfortunately it’s a part of the travel experience sometimes. Just have to be careful.

  5. The baby scam was tried on me in London and Rome. In London I did not get close and walked away. In Rome I saw it coming and walked on the other side of the street. A woman or two want to show your baby. It might be even a young girl alone trying to show you her baby which is a doll wrapped up. If you look one of them picks your pocket or tries. Around the Eiffel towel or Versailles I have seen signs about watching for pick pockets and such.

  6. We were in Rome just a few months ago. Twice we had a group of adolescents/young 20’s guys camp out at the subway station. Given the large amount of people, they crammed, two of them would push against us while the other started going for pockets/bags. The first time we had an empty backpack and it was completely unzipped but had nothing stolen (phew). Second time we just walked off. It’s so easy for them to do cause everyone is in a rush for the subway, and there are so many people.

    Look out!

  7. Of the major European cities I have visited Paris was, by far, the worst with scams. We hadn’t even made it to our hotel before the ring one was tried.

    You didn’t mention all of the young girls around the Eiffel Tower asking if you spoke English and then wanted you to sign something and make a donation. (Not sure of the details because I’m the suspicious type and just nodded no to the English question).

    Sadly there are too many people here (US) and around the world who are constantly trying to make money by taking advantage of others.

  8. I’ve had numerous attempts made on me over the years. In Beijing, I was approached – in 15 – minutes by three separate groups of “art students” wanting to show me their exhibitions. I had heard of the scam and it did not work, but the first group of art students was so persistent, wanting to know everything about me and practice English, that in subsequent encounters, I feigned inability to speak English and just responded in French.

    In Bangkok, I elected to walk one portion of the trip to the Royal Palace, and sure enough, I encountered several uniformed members of the “Tourism Police”, each of whom had the same badge number, inform me that the Palace was closed, or opening late, on account of the King’s birthday, and wouldn’t I prefer to get in a tuk tuk and see certain temples/get suits made/enjoy a morning at a brothel. Did not get sucked in.

    Basically, no one who approaches you has your interests in mind. As for me, and as described above, speaking some other language typically brings harassment to an end.

  9. I’ve watched several shows (The Real Hustle and Scam City) and am pretty skeptical of people coming up to me. Trust no one is sometimes the best thing to do.

  10. thanks for posting this topic of dark side of traveling. when these things happened, it just takes the enthusiasm and mood away from a worldly experience. you want to go out to the world and explore and then the negative just hinders it. everyone falls for one of these once but better live and learn.

  11. I am aware and cautious when I travel (especially when I travel to places known for pickpocketing, i.e. Athens, Paris).

    Having said that, I tried not to be overly cynical and give most people the benefit of a doubt. There have been times when I or my traveling companions have gotten lost, and we do approach locals (and possibly tourists who we mistaken as locals) to ask for directions.

    I’m sure they’d have their guard up/suspicious, but I would hate to think they think I’m up to no good (it’s actually a bit sad when I think about it that – it’s come to a point when people have their guard up just to engage in conversation…) Granted, I’m sure folks have been scammed and learned from it and it’s not unwarranted to be more suspicious. Still, I think it’s a bit sad as it reflects on the state of society.

  12. Good advice all around. Had the Paris ring scam attempted by an old gypsy lady who, also, wasn’t very good at it. The young gypsy girls around the Eiffel tower (also around the department stores in the Opera area sometimes) are a trip. They often have a sob story that they need money for their baby, to get home, etc. Practice saying “Non, merci” with the best French accent you can muster – they’ll know you’re faking but just roll their eyes and move on.

    Istanbul is bad with the re-direction scam, especially at the mosques around the daily prayer times. “Is closed for pray time, let me take you to the Hippodrome” then they throw a fit that you’re “typical rude American” when you politely decline. In Ephesus the fake Roman coin scam can be found, and some of the guys are very aggressive. Of course one should know even if it *were* real, it’s illegal to take it out of Turkey without a gov’t license to do so!

    Odd, but nice, thing about Japan is that there are so many people who honestly do want to talk to you, including kids and teens who actually are wanting to speak English with you. Still keep on your guard as it only takes one bad apple, but it is refreshing compared to most everywhere else, where it’s always a scam.

    For going through areas that I’d like more protection than just my own awareness/wits, I use a leg safe in addition to a PacSafe MetroSafe bag (I’m a guy and yeah, it’s borderline “mursey” but who cares!). It’s slashproof and has hard to open pockets which can also be secured with a small combo lock if you wish. However I still follow the usual tips about distributing cash, passports, etc even then.

  13. I bought one of those belts you described from cabelas and use it whenever I travel overseas. I carry a good chunk of my money in there. I figure I have to loose my pants to loose my money.

    I’ve also taken a credit card/debit card and cut in half long ways to make it fit. If you re-tape the credit card, it’ll still works in an ATM.

  14. And I forgot to mention the ATM scam we fell victim to in Termini Station in Rome over 10 years ago. The money did not come out and we never got the cash only to find out later at home that probably someone else played with the machine and took out the money after we left. I remember there was a woman waiting behind me for her turn so it must have been her.
    This was not covered by the bank… 🙁

  15. In Italy there were kids selling newspapers but that was and excuse to surround and try to pickpocket you.

    I’ve also experienced one where a guy happens to be going where you’re going and offers you a lift. I don’t know for certain that was a scam but I didn’t want to find out.

    it’s not exclusive to foreign countries. In new york, I’ve been approached by a distressed young woman explaining her purse was stolen and asking if I could help her get some money for the subway.

    Lastly, by far the most common scam I’ve run into is the taxi the taxi run around. If they sense you’re a foreigner, they’ll take you on the scenic route. I’ve had cabs in south america go completely the opposite way to run up 3x the fare. the best defense is to follow along with a map on your iPhone. get out and pay what you think is fair. In greece, once when I got in the cab driver explained that the after 1pm the special surcharge rate applied. just get another cab in that case.

  16. These are timeless scams. Have been around for ages. It used to be that travelers learned about these scams in their trip preparation because it was a once in a lifetime trip. Nowadays, it is so easy to hop on a plane to somewhere exotic due to the proliferation of points and DIY blogs, that travelers forget the basics, so this is a very useful post. That Bs As scam that dhammer53 mentioned happened to me 20 years ago, but it something I had read about before my trip and was ready for it. Sad to hear that it is still being used! There are variations to the tea house scam, so if a young girl comes up to you for no reason and suggests going to karaoke, it probably isn’t because you’re the best looking guy around 🙂

  17. I do the female equivalent of the two wallet technique. I carry a cheap purse filled with nothing of value and carry cash and credit cards in my front pocket.Noone expects a female with a purse to have her valuables in her front pocket.

  18. In Japan we had some fun with groups of middle school aged kids who wanted to chat for assignments at different temples. They were very sweet and genuine. We also chatted with monks in Thailand. These people were very nice and honest and just wanted to practice English so you always have to use your judgement and be aware of your surroundings.

  19. In Manila, Philippines I was distracted on a jeepeny with a misdirection and had my wallet picked. Luckily it was just cash and an easily cancelled card. I switched to an around the neck wallet. I also kept my passport locked in a safe in my room and carry only a copy. Thanks for this post, great reminder to be aware.

  20. A unique one that happened to us in Athens: During day time as we entered the elevator from the bar at the top floor of the Hilton to come down to our floor, a feeble, well dressed old man (in his 70’s) also walked in. Within a few seconds he pulled his hand out of his coat pocket to show us blood on his fingers (jello), and asked me to see what was in his coat pocket that had caused this by putting my hand there. I refused. I guess the trick would be to get you to put your hand in there and then accuse you of pickpocketing and demand the money back.

    Something I have never understood is why do some people insist on carrying a wallet in their pockets in foreign lands, knowing fully well that it is an open invitation to every crook to try his craft on you?

    @Gary, evidently some elements get into temples (in Malaysia) thinking that it would be an easy place to try their luck on unsuspecting foreigners. It can’t be any regular worshipers. Crooks look for places where you will have your guard down.

  21. We loved Paris!! Everything about it made us smile – and that includes watching the poor execution of the Gypsy scams. We had the ring scam pulled on us without success on Pont Neuf. Later that day, as we left Centre Pompidou, we looked out on the crowd only to see three men pulling the ring scam all in the same spot!

    My favorite scam was the petition that young girls asked us to sign to support the deaf and blind. Being fluent in French and American Sign Language (which is based on the French), I loved signing to them, thanking them for their dedication to the cause, knowing that they had no idea what the “petition” was even about!

    We only got caught (almost) once. Boarding the train to Paris from Versailles, a young girl clothes lined me while her mother opened my purse. They didn’t get anything, because I moved quickly, but I should have been more careful. My favorite use for a scarf in Paris was to tie it around the zipper pull on my purse and the strap. To open the zipper would require untying my double knotted scarf first! I’ll never travel without a scarf again!

  22. Train Stations in Paris, young kids try to make you sign something for donations… and in Beijing, “homeless” kids begs for money while the parents are 20 feet away.

  23. Google thailand and jet ski scam to see how dangerous scams can get.

    ( or just google thailand with the word scam in the search to see a whole list of ripoffs)

  24. Had the ring scam in Paris last august a block away from Park Hyatt Vendome. A firm “Non” without stopping is enough. Speaking any english is a give away. The best is to look like you know where you’re going. Had well dressed scam artist students approach us in Shanghai before being broken up by police. That saved us and for once I am thankful to China’s “no loitering” law.
    On a positive note, Japan is an exception, they run after you to give you back your change when you miscalculate or when you want to leave it as a tip. No one has ever wanted or kept a tip no matter what the service was….and in my case a total stranger handed us the camera I had left behind. Would like to know where else does such honesty exist in this world!

  25. Indeed, my friend left his wallet x 2 in Japan, only to have 2 separate people running back after us to give us back the wallet… a good 50-100m away!

  26. Not all the scams are on the streets:

    When a basket of pretzels is served with dinner in Germany/Deutschland you are typically only charged for the pretzels consumed. If the basket has 8 and five are eaten then you are only charged for five and the other three will be served to another table.

    It seems several restaurants in Italy has taken this to the next level. In multiple restaurants excess items were added to the table that were not ordered:
    *In one restaurant a plate of prosciutto and cheese is brought out with the bread for the table. We informed the waiter that we did not order any prosciutto, they said okay, but left it on the table. As you probably guessed, some people at the table ate a few pieces and when the bill came we were charged for the prosciutto and cheese plate
    *After learning from this we noticed several restaurants that we dined at added additional open bottles of wine and/or water than ordered. This is probably particularly effective with larger groups as the meal may end with three 3/4 full bottles of the same bottle of wine as people grabbed what’s near them rather (and conveniently already open) rather than what is already started.

  27. I’ve seen the bus trick. Someone sits down next to you very close (like cheek to cheek) and then asks you to move over a little. If you carry a wallet they grab it as you move over. It slides out while you slide over. My tip it not to carry a wallet do a belt or some other way to secure your money.

  28. RyanE: We were in Ephesus a few months ago and my husband bought 10-15 of “old” coins along the way. Last anecdote: We were in Jerusalem several years ago and my husband stopped in a coin shop while I waited in the car. He comes back with a St Augustine coin that was so rare, it was the last one in the shop! I said yeah, I bet his son is around back making more!

  29. + rural Ireland, had a young lady chase me out to the car to give me .20 change I had forgotten.

    – the ring scam in Paris – yup.

    As for the wallet, I try to maintain a layers approach – a button down pocket, then a fairly secured jacket over it, then my flimsy and cheap looking o.d.green canvas and stash shoulder bag positioned over the wallet.

  30. Had taxi scams in a few places: difficult to argue with them after the trip though, without much local knowledge. In Istanbul with altered meters, resulting in 3x fares (he knew I knew it was a scam so we settled on 2x what it should have been), in Lisbon with an arbitrary (huge) addition to the metered fare for an extra passenger (in both cases they wouldn’t pull up right to the hotel door where the “real” fare could be checked with a hotel porter) … In Philippines we didn’t pay until we’d looped our local host upon arrival. Paid less than half what the driver was demanding…

  31. I put all of my valuables in a travel pouch inside my clothing before I even leave home, keeping no more than $20 in my pocket. And since my CitiGold debit card has no ATM fees at all, I use it frequently, and so carry very little cash even in the pouch.

    The one scam I have tried on me time after time in Europe is a restaurant that tells me their credit card machine is “out of order”, and they need me to pay my bill with cash. Only mentioned after you have already eaten, of course.

    If you insist you have virtually no cash, and one of you can’t go to an ATM because you left your debit card in the hotel safe, they finally get their card card machine to work after all. The idea is to take the cash, and not make any record of it, so as to avoid not only the cc fee, but to not pay any taxes on the income.

    Sorry, but I want my miles/points, and am not going to walk several blocks to an ATM while my wife waits, just so they can avoid paying taxes. Not as bad as having your wallet stolen, of course, but still annoying to have pulled on you once you know what they are up to.

  32. I love the Paris ring scam. I just yell, “YES! That *IS* my wedding ring! I have been looking for that! Oh, thank you so very much!” Then pocket the ring, give them a big smile, and walk away.

    What are they going to do – call the cops?

    Beware the “friendship bracelet” scam (often at Sacre Coeur in Paris): someone walks up to you and ties a string around your wrist, says it’s a “friendship bracelet” and then asks for a payment. Good luck untying that little knot.

  33. As a general rule-of-thumb, the more “touristy” a place, the more you have to worry about these scams. I hate being cynical when traveling, but sometimes if you do not stay guarded you really will get taken advantage of. It’s really a shame because it can keep you from interacting with locals and immersing yourself in the local culture – but again, sometimes you do need to protect yourself. Financially and otherwise.

    On every trip I try to build into my itinerary travels off-the-beaten-path. I have had some of my most memorable travel experiences this way – being invited into people’s homes, sharing meals, etc. I even was invited to a wedding years after staying with a Vietnamese family while backpacking in SE Asia. That last example is atypical, but in many ways traveling can be more rewarding by going beyond places recommended in guidebooks and travel guides.

  34. Interesting post and comments. My question is what to do with your valuables when visiting/swimming at the beach?

  35. I have had the Paris ring scam in front of Musee d’Orsay (the actual museum front and not the visitor entrance). Scammers must be attracted to the Seine somehow.

  36. Great post, and comments too. Years ago in Paris, a woman convinced my friend to buy her tickets to the Lourve, saying she had bought them and they were still good, but that she had to leave and couldn’t use them. As I recall the date was correct on the tickets, but I had a bad feeling about it. It’s like someone said, when someone approaches you, something is probably up. The tickets turned out to be invalid of course.

  37. In Russia there are plenty of scams. The scam with ring reminds me scam with wallet – you are walking and notice that guy in front of you drops he wallet, didnt notice that and disappears. Another guy appears and “notices” a wallet and offers to split the money in this wallet, suggest to do it in the nearest quite place. If you go, they will split the money from your wallet.

  38. I have been off the beaten track in all of these places and more, and have had variations of these scams tried on me innumerable times — most consistently in Bangkok — but the only successful robber in 25 years of travel was a pickpocket in line for a roller coaster in Las Vegas. Doggone Americans! I do like their roller coasters, though!

  39. In AMS train station once, guy approached me speaking English, I answered in Spanish, he switched to Spanish! I just kept walking. I have witnessed many attempts by Gypsies in Spain and Italy on others who engaged them and I thought you just got mugged! I watched a group work the Trevi fountain one day, was interesting. I never saw the lifts, but I knew what they were up to. My partner almost got pulled into the shell game near the main train station in Rome once. I warned him not to go up to the group and/or keep his wallet handy. Nothing happened fortunately.

    I am usually very aware of my surrounding however I did drop my guard once in Costa Rica on a bus and my bag went missing. Fortunately I noticed it on the floor at the front of the bus before there was a stop to allow anyone off. Bag retrieved, nothing gone.

    Stay alert and don’t travel with valuables!

  40. Ryan mentioned Japan and I thought I would mention my trip there 2 years ago. In Japan it is extremely safe, and clean and people will ask you if you need help. Usually these are older people. If you just look at a map or appear to be studying a subway map on or off the train a passenger will ask you if you need help. On the street 2 or three people may try to help you at one time. If one person has english issues, they call over another person and basically translate. I am not kidding. It caught me off guard several times. One cab driver dropped us a wrong address in Kyoto. It was a few doors off where we needed to be. The person at the wrong address actually walked outside with us to show us the exact location. To a certain degree is takes a little while to relax a bit there. In a hotel rather than tell us go to the end of a large hallway for the twain station a person fromt he hotel actually walked us to the end of the hall and point to the subway entrace. I dropped about 20.00 USD in my hotel and I got a tap on the shoulder from a Japanese person. BTW I really love Japan and will go back.

  41. Christo, Christine, Ryan..we are all headed to Japan! Actually are there any other countries that are similar? I never had issues in London about safety but as always you have to try to be alert as possible in some situations.

  42. Great stories. I’m kinda tempted to buy a bunch of fake rings from 99 cent store for my trip to Paris in 2 weeks and hand them out to the gypsies.

  43. An attractive young woman tried to get me to fall for the tea scam in Shanghai. She approached me as we were both emerging from a subway station on a rainy day and she wanted to practice her English. I walked with her for a bit, but the restaurant she signaled was an unmarked storefront with a “Welcome” sign in English on the inside. It looked shady. I told her, “I’m in the mood for McDonald’s” (which I saw down the street) and took off. I wasn’t aware of the scam, just thought the situation looked bad.

  44. Sometimes I don’t know how they pick targets, as we were the shabbiest dressed tourists (among groups of stylish Japanese tourists) in a busy Vienna shop and we caught a hand in our bag. The other time someone’s trying to pickpocket my tissues in Sevilla and apologized for it.

    I heard many many stories about Barcelona and was on high alert the whole time when we visited. I walked off to take pictures, and then I saw a guy talking to my mother. Scam scene in mind I was shouting, running towards my mother, pulling her away and lecturing her not to talk to strangers. She then rather innocently said that the guy just wanted his picture taken. I was so embarrassed by my paranoia and took his picture apologetically LOL Who knows, maybe one day it would become a scam as this occupies both of your hands so beware fellow travelers.

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