Tourist Scams:

I am posting this because I have a knack for being duped, tricked, cheated and scammed!

Learn from me:

The Money Switch

When I was in Peru, I found myself with 200 sols in FAKE bills and no way to reimburse it.

I was in a taxi one rainy night on my way to the bus station. When we pulled up to the station, I handed the drive a 100 sol bill. He fiddled with his wallet for a moment and then handed it back to me:

“It’s Fake.”

I looked at him confused because I had just pulled these bills out of the ATM a few hours ago. They were just crisp. He refused to believe me, so I handed him another one which he proclaimed also to be fake. We turned on the light to show me, but unfamiliar with the bills, I was not sure how to identify a fake bill. There was no WAY it was fake.

Then I tried to pay for my bus and was again informed my bills were fake. Upon further inspection, the serial numbers matched.

What happened? The taxi drive switched them. He took advantage of three things: my lack of knowledge of the bills, the low lighting, and the “crisp” quality of bills from the ATM.

**Lessons learned
-When you first arrive in a new country, look at the money under light and examine the characteristics that distinguish it as real bills.
-Always be extra careful with new bills. They stick together and are more easily replicated
-Avoid giving taxis anything but exact change.
-Turn on lights BEFORE paying.

The Cup Scam

I lost 200 Euros in this scam. (Notice the trend?)

When I was in Paris, I found myself mesmerized by gambling game on the streets. The ball and cup game. There were three cups and a ball. The dealer would place the ball under a cups, mix around the cups, and the players would place bets about which cup the ball is under. It seemed easy.

As I studied the game, I seemed to know where the ball was. So when one person lost and there were two cups left, I was eager to join as a quick way to make easy money. In my brain, it was not a gamble. My friends reassured me that that the ball was under the cup I thought, so I paid the man 100 Euros. But it wasn’t there.

I started to panic about losing THAT much money and was eager to win it back. A man nudged me and asked me to go in with him to win back our money. I agreed, and we lost again.

I studied the game longer, and a lady yelled, upset, “He is switching the cups when you look down at your money!” As I watched, he was. I thought I could stop him this time…I would win back the money. I placed my foot down on the cup to prevent him from switching them. Again, my friends reassured me I was right about which cup. But it wasn’t there.

I got mad, and started looking at the cups—looking for magnets or anything. As I yelled, a man took me to the side and whispered, “I know what is going on…come here.” He led me away while the dealer packed up and left.

What happened? Everyone, all three players, were in on the scam. I was the only one playing…and the ball was not in any on the cups. The other players block the only views where you could see that the dealer flips the ball into his hand. It looks easy, but there is NO way to win. Every comment and move was staged to take me money

There were five cops standing next to the game who were likely paid off. They pretended not to speak English when I asked for help. So I talked to them in Spanish. Then they responded in clear English that gambling is illegal in Paris.

**Lessons learned
-Do not play street games. If you decide to be risky, do not pay more than 15 dollars or Euros.
-Anything that looks super easy in a tourist zone probably is not.
-Do not assume cops are helpful.