Tourist Scams

Scams to watch out for in London

Although a relatively safe city considering it’s size and population, there are always things to take care of when visiting.

The Helpful stranger

This scam can be formed of several methods. A liquid, such as ketchup, will be squirted onto your clothes and then be pointed out by a very helpful person who begins to wipe it off for you. However this is a distraction to either pick your pockets or make off with your bags. Watch out for strangers trying to hug you or being over flirtatious as they could be feeling for valuables.

Another form of this is someone pointing out that you have dropped something, usually jewellery, which they offer back to you. This either results in them asking for money in reward (usually the jewellery will have zero value) or another distraction for stealing other items. If it is not yours ignore them and walk on.

Credit card skimming

As with almost all parts of the world London suffers from organised gangs tampering or installing bogus cash machines. The pin umber is either taking through cameras, people over your shoulder, electronic skimming or by distraction. Try to use bank cash points and then only the ones located inside the banks. Be wary of anyone around you as you make your transaction and always cover the number pad.


Not something you immediately think of when imagining London, but these things have become a plague around the West End and although popular with Tourists and local drinker alike, they do have a reputation for over charging and then becoming aggressive. They are also usually foreign, know the city as well as you do and have had no formal training on operating vehicles on the streets of London. Be warned.


This goes without saying. Try to keep your valuables out of sight, try wearing bags to the front of you and be wary on busy transport and near crowded tourist attractions. Handbag theft from bars and restaurants is quite a problem as well.

Three Cup trick – Find the Pea

A scam that is spreading quickly across Europe is the age old three cup scam. Usually at busy tourist spots there will be a lot of noise as it appears some one is winning a lot of money guessing correctly. In reality the “winner” is in on the scam.

Fake Policeman

You will be approached by one individual asking questions. All of a sudden undercover police appear to “save” you. They will then ask to check your valuables but steal some. A real policeman will ask you to check your valuables but never take them from you.

Gentlemen’s clubs

Not such a problem as it was 20 years ago, but these clubs that lure male tourists in with the promise of allsorts but then charge mind blowing amounts for drinks do still exist.

Just be as vigilant as you would visiting your own capital city and you will have a safe and pleasant stay!

(Image courtesy of Stuart Miles)