If you are unlucky you may run into a con artist while you go backpacking. It usually only involves you paying a bit more than you should, but it can potentially be more dangerous. The con artists are very innovative. Here are some examples of scams.

A person claims to be a plain clothes police officer and shows a fake ID (or the local library card, how would you know the difference?) and make you depart from your money e.g. by inventing a crime and demanding a bribe or checking your money for false bills and helping themselves to some. You can try to get around this by demanding to be taken to a local police station or to a uniformed police officer on foot – do not get into a car with these guys.

Some shops try to convince you to buy cheap jewels and sell them at home at a big profit. Unless you are in the business you will most certainly end up on the losing end so do not expect to make any money from this. Buy the jewels if you like them but not to get rich.

Gambling on the street is a sure way to part with your money. There are usually several people playing and some seem to be doing quite well. Well it is all sleight of hand (as many magic tricks). Well guess what, the people winning are friends of the organizer of the game and are only there to give you the feeling that the game can be won. They may even let you win once or twice so that you feel comfortable in the game. Social proof is one of the most important principles in order to influence people. Simplified social proof means that if everyone else is doing it, then it must be a good idea to do it. If you see several people eating in a restaurant and the restaurant next to it is empty, which one will you pick? The same thing goes for gambling.

If you accept a drink which is offered to you on the beach or after several hours of hiking up a mountain make sure you agree on the price beforehand otherwise it can turn into a very expensive drink.

Personal Experience – The Agra Assault

In Agra, India we were invited to a carpet store and were offered to import carpets to Sweden. They already had a buyer in Sweden but in order to reduce taxes and customs it was much easier to have a native bringing the carpets there. All we had to do was to hand them a visa card and they would later transfer money to my bank account once the carpets were properly received by the awaiting buyer. Numerous people had written letters in various languages and were vouching for their credibility. As we were curious we played along until it was time to decide and of course we said no. However, they then started to be hostile and rude, telling me that I had “a really bad jacket” and my friend had a “really bad cap”. We quickly got out of the place before it got nastier.

Happy travels!

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