Frequent business traveler Joyce Gioia knew she had been scammed when a server in a Beijing tea room handed her a bill for $82.89 in late March.
Gioia’s walk from her hotel to the Forbidden City had been interrupted by two strangers — young Chinese women who asked whether they could practice their English with her over coffee or tea.
“Not wanting to be the ugly American and figuring I could learn more about their culture, I said, ‘Sure,'” Gioia recalls.
Her friendliness turned to anger, though, when she saw the check and was told it included a room charge. It’s a common scam, an official at her hotel later told her.
Gioia is one of many Americans who have been scammed or fallen prey to deceptive tactics when traveling abroad.
The scammers and lawbreakers don’t often discriminate, targeting inexperienced travelers and some of the savviest, such as Gioia, a USA TODAY Road Warrior who stayed 29 nights in hotels abroad this year.
“Travelers are easy targets, because they are unfamiliar with the environment, lack awareness and are too trusting,” says Chris Hagon, the president of Incident Management Group, a Florida-based security consulting company. “They have no advance information regarding the scam du jour.”
The U.S. State Department has taken notice of many of the common scams and criminal tactics, and warns travelers to beware of them.
USA TODAY reviewed current safety information of the department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs and found the following scams and schemes have been reported in foreign countries:
Source: USA Today | Gary Stoller