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37 Scams To Avoid in Russia During 2018 FIFA World Cup

 

37 Scams To Avoid in Russia During 2018 FIFA World Cup

Whether it is about 2018 World Cup tickets, medical insurance, Russian visa or travel packages, your trip to Moscow or the other cities could be a disaster if you don't educate yourself with tips and tricks that will save you money, time and mental health.

If you are traveling to Russia for the 31st edition of the FIFA World Cup you need to be aware of a series of travel scams that you could be a victim of.

For example, watch the shocking video below to see a tourist robbed of his expensive camera lens in St. Petersburg - without even knowing:

In case you missed it, the male with a hat unscrews and steals the lens at 0'09, holds it under newspaper at 0'12, then passes it (at 0'16) to the other guy with a hat, who throws it in his bag and walks away.

Want to see more? We have a lot more. We collected a list with 37 scary scams that you should avoid at the World Cup. Here they are:

 

1. ATM Skimmer in Moscow and St. Petersburg [WITH VIDEO]

You ran out of Rubles, so walk up to an ATM to get some cash. You insert your bank card, type in your PIN, get the money, walk away and enjoy the games of the World Cup. A few days later, you start to notice some unusual charges on your card. You got all your money stolen! How did that happen?

Watch the video below to see in action the ATM Scam exposed:

ATM Skimmer in Moscow Video

Little did you know, the ATM you used had a thin device in the slot where you inserted your card. This device can read your card number. Meanwhile, a minuscule video camera mounted just over your shoulder recorded your PIN. After you had left, scammers came to collect the device and empty the accounts filed using the PINs they captured on camera.

Always make sure the slot where you insert your card has nothing attached to it. These devices may be cleverly disguised to look like regular parts of an ATM, so watch carefully.

 

2. Money Drop in Moscow

kremlin red square in moscow russia

 

As you're enjoying the famous Red Square somebody is running fast by you and "accidentally" drops a bunch of Russian Ruble banknotes. The tourist beside you sees it as well.

He starts picking up the money, but because he knows you noticed too, offers to share it 50-50. You look after the owner of the money, and he is long gone. You take your share of, say, $100 and walk away.

A minute later, the real owner of the money - now with a couple of buddies - taps your shoulder and asks for it back. The full amount. As you only have half, you will need to see the closest ATM to get away without being hurt.

Never take the cash from the other "tourist".

 

3. 2018 FIFA World Cup Tickets: Official Partner Contest

You want to attend a highly anticipated match at the World Cup, but tickets are sold out. Naturally, you turn to the Internet and found a potential 'in'!

Scammers create fake contests claiming to be on behalf of the official FIFA partners (Coca-Cola, Adidas, Gazprom, Hyundai, Qatar Airways, etc.). Then they advertise phony challenges to "Get a free ticket here".

2018 FIFA world cup tickets

 

By clicking the link, you are asked for your personal information (including your credit card, for "security purposes") to receive your prize. Thousands of victims fall for this because the email contains the sponsor's official logo and branding.

Whenever you come across this kind of web page, go to the sponsor's real website, but not by clicking on the link provided. Type it in your browser and open their official page to look for that contest, if that exists.

 

4. Russian Visa Application Form

Whether you are from the US, UK, Canada or Australia and want to go to the 2018 FIFA World Cup you need to fill out applications to get a Russian travel visa (voucher). You are required to have one.

Because the process is not simple, cyber crooks create fake Russian consulate websites and have the victims send their credit card numbers and personal information via these bogus pages.

Weeks after, applicants don't receive anything since the consulate websites are fake. Meanwhile, their credit cards got charged.

russian visa application form

 

*How to get a Russian visa? See below:

How to Get Russian Visa for UK Citizen

How to Get Russian Visa for US Citizen

How to Get Russian Visa for Canadian Citizen

How to Get Russian Visa for Australian Cizien

 

5. Playing Street Soccer With Locals

street soccer in russia

 

You are at the World Cup, so all you breathe and think is soccer or football as Europeans call it. You are on vacation, so while wandering the streets, you may be approached by neighborhood youngsters to play football with them. You may even ask yourself to join, as you see they're kicking the ball already, at some competitive level.

It happens all the time during the World Cup.

Be aware of where you leave your bag (if you have one) or your valuables. It is in common in Russia to be robbed of your stuff if you leave it on the side while joining the group to play.

When you will notice your jacket missing it might be a little too late, as the other players will claim didn't see anything while kicking the ball.

 

6. Shell Game [WITH VIDEO]

The shell game has existed since at least the 80s all over the world, but people still lose money over it. The same thing happens at the 2018 FIFA World Cup as well.

Scammers set up shop on street sidewalks, especially in high tourist areas. The game requires three shells (lids, bottle caps, plastic cups, etc.), and a small object, usually a soft round ball, about the size of a pea. It can be played on any flat surface.

The operator of the game (the scammer) begins by placing the pea under one of the shells, then quickly shuffles the shells around. When he is done, he tells the audience to bet under which shell is the little ball. The operator has a couple of partners in the audience, so they will act as tourists, betting on the game.

shell game explained

 

After a few winning hands from the audience (his partners), it seems pretty easy to spot where the pea is going to be. That's when real tourists and soon-to-be victims get involved. They start betting little amounts, and they win.

Feeling that they could handle more and see themselves winning big, the travelers increase their bets. When they are finally hooked, and confident they are winning, victims bet hundreds of dollars – and that's when they lose.

The scammer waits for this moment to palm the pea and lifts the shell chosen by the tourist, revealing the losing hand. Do you want to see how the scam is done?

Watch the video below to see the scam exposed:

 

Sometimes, the game is played with three cards instead of shells. The three cards faced upside down, are two tens and a queen, and the audience is invited to guess which one is the queen. When pulling the scam, the crook is just too fast for the gambler, while somebody else distracts him for a second.

Don't think you can win. These crooks are fast and do this a thousand times a day – you'll never make money out of it.

 

7. Travel Medical Insurance: Russia

Certain travel agencies have their agents paid by commission when it comes to medical insurance. There is nothing wrong with that.

Unfortunately, frequently some of these agents trick their customers into buying insurance which they don't necessarily need. Or, if they do, they could get it cheaper elsewhere. The agents make their quota and get the commission.

According to studies, over 70% of tourists don't have the medical insurance details adequately explained to them. Fees are added without a correct explanation and consumers just pay without knowledge.

Ask for full details.

 

8. Currency Changer in Russia

russian Rubles banknote

 

At the time of this writing, the conversion of the Rubles is as following:

$1 US = 58.14 Rubles

1 EURO = 67.44 Rubles

1 British Pound = 76.30 Rubles

$1 CDN = 45.26 Rubles

One of the most common travel scams is pulled when tourists change their money at questionable local vendors or directly with individuals.

Not only the conversion rate is incorrect, but the scam works by the crooks handing you a calculator, to do the math yourself. What you don't know is that the calculator is rigged, registering fewer Rubles than you should get.

Always use official exchange centers, or pull cash from ATMs.

 

9. Found Your Wallet in Moscow

This scam is a very dangerous "full-meal deal" one, aiming to rip off everything you have: wallet, personal information, and bank account access. How does it work?

After pickpocketing tourists of their wallet, pickpockets follow the victims to their hotels.

leather wallet with money

 

Then they call the reception, asking to talk to the victim, as they know their full name from the wallet.  

Once the victim answer, the thief pretends to be an officer from the local Police. He says that someone found the wallet and dropped it off at the Police station. The tourist will then be directed to come down in a few hours to pick up his wallet.

At this point, the victim feels a massive sense of relief. Minutes later, the scammers call again using an accomplice with a different voice without Eastern European accent. This time, he impersonates a rep from the victim's bank, using the cards found in the wallet.

He says the police just informed them about the situation. The scammer (acting as the bank) proceeds to encourage the victim to cancel the cards right then. 

As the tourist agrees, the scammer claims that he needs to confirm the victim's identity: the name, address, birth date, PIN, etc. It is the PINs they want so they can get some cash fast.

The victims are not worried anymore because they think they've gotten lucky, and their wallet was found.

Banks never ask for your PIN so that should be a giveaway that something is up. One way to be sure you are talking to the police station or the bank's rep is to tell them politely you're going to ring them back to be safe. 

Be sure to look the number up yourself and not ask them for the number. It's pretty easy to hop onto the computer and get the number from their official website.

Before going to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup send yourself an email with all the copies of your documents, in case things like this happen. Scan your passport, ID bank cards, and store them in your inbox.

 

10. Luggage Storage Robbery

Travelling for a long time typically requires a more significant amount of luggage and packages to carry. Bus and train stations, as well as airports,  offer storage lockers for travelers who arrive early but don't want to drag everything around with them.

Let' say you get a locker while in Russia. The luggage storage key scam begins when a stranger is "conveniently located" near you when you are about to open the locker. He may even pretend to be a city or airport employee. 

lockers with numbers and keys

 

"Oh, the keys are tricky to use. Let me show you how they work", he says. He offers to open the locker and help you load it. The person then loads your bags into the locker, closes it and hands you the key.

Later on, when you head back to the locker to get your things, you discover that the key doesn't fit or the locker is open and your stuff is gone.

 

11. Being Picked Up From Airport

You just got off in Moscow after a long flight, ready to enjoy the 2018 FIFA World Cup. As you walk out of your gate, you see a chauffeur holding up a sign with your full name on it! You didn't schedule a pickup, you didn't tell anybody what time your flight arrives, but apparently, someone is looking out for you.

The introduces himself as a driver for the hotel you stay at, which he also accurately knows! He tells you he was sent to pick you up. You appreciate the gesture and hop in the car. He takes you in the city but at some point stops along the way.

people walking through moscow airport

 

He then tells you he won't take you there unless you pay him $100 (or EURO/Rubles) as fare. It's night, so you have no other option than to pay him the money.

How did he get your name and the hotel? He does not work there. He had an insider within the airline crew, who called him as soon as all the passengers filled out the Customs cards during the flight. If you think about it, you need to write down your name and place you stay at.

It only takes two seconds for a crew member to catch a glimpse at your card and memorize the names. Crazy, but true.

 

12. Fake Arrest

A World Cup competition is fun, so you are having a great time at the games. You are walking down the St. Petersburg streets when suddenly you find yourself being stopped by the Russian police. When you ask for the reason, the officer tells you it's for having counterfeit bills on you. They check your pockets and guess what: you DO have fake Russian banknotes!

How is that possible? This trick is an organized scam. The street market vendor you just bought souvenirs from three minutes before meeting the "cops" gave them to you on purpose, as change. Then he told his friends, who are posing as officers stopping you.

You are "arrested", while they say the only way out is to give them some money. Cash extortion 101.

 

13. Broken Item Compensation

While you're admiring a colorful Sochi market, a man strategically bumps into you and drops his bag. Both of you hear something that doesn't sound too good.

As he picks up the satchel and looks inside, his fragile porcelain souvenir (or tablet, photo camera, eyeglasses, medicine bottle, etc.) is broken into pieces. 

bag on street with banana skin

 

He starts a big scene as he is loudly accusing you of breaking his valuable item. He yells and threatens with the police.

Being on holidays and not willing to deal with local authorities, many tourists prefer to pay compensation so that they get away. Some scammers collect up to $500/day.

Call his bluff; you be the one calling the police. Move towards a crowd, raise your voice. He will vanish right away.

 

14. Public Phone Trap

 

Public phones still exist in Russia. You are in a public place, say in Krasnodar, and need to make a phone call back home. However, you don't have a great roaming plan on your mobile nor the proper Russian coins. Luckily, you find a public phone that takes credit cards. The phone, just like many others, has a sticker on it: "For international calls, dial "1-800-xxxx" (see pic below).

public phone in Russia

 

Following the directions you make your call keeping it brief, thinking it'll save you from some of the outlandish charges. But a month later when you finally get your bill, you notice that two-minute call cost you $90!

Scammers post stickers on public phones advertising their own hotlines which they set-up to rip off victims who believe it's a long distance deal. Several train stations are very well known for this scam.

Do not make phone calls using your credit card, especially in tourist cities. Not even if the rates are posted. Buy a coffee or a pack of gum to get the change you need. If you wonder how to make international calls from Brazil, do your homework before the trip. Get phone call plans and use reputable services.

 

15. Patio Pick-Pocketing aka The Key Tossing

This scam occurs mostly in places where sidewalks are packed with patios and coffee shops. You are sitting at a table on the side of the street, enjoying the vibrant city you're in. People pass by you and everyone is friendly.

While you are sipping on your coffee, somebody is squeezing by your chair with the intention of passing by on your right-hand side. It's a busy place, so you politely try to make some room.

restaurant with patio and people

 

As you are moving, he "accidentally" drops his keys right at your feet. Because you are sitting, it's easy for you to bend slightly and pick them up, returning them to him.

Everything happens in those four seconds. As you are facing him while he's apologizing for your trouble, his partner in crime grabs your bag or purse, which was on the left-hand side of your table (the first suspect walked to your right, remember?).

Victims are distracted just for a few moments, but scammers are ready to operate. Since they're doing this several times a day, they are so smooth that it's almost unnoticeable.

Hold your bag between your legs and if it has a shoulder strap, put your foot through the strap.

 

16. Filling Up At The Gas Station

gas tank in grey car

 

If you rent a car at this 2018 FIFA World Cup, be careful at gas stations when three or four attendants come to help you.

While one starts washing your windshield, another points to the front whee ("u vas yest ploskaya shina"), saying you have a flat tire. Meanwhile, the third guy starts pumping the gas.

The flat tire ploy is just a reason to divert your attention to the front of the car and don't pay attention to the third guy, who fixes the pump's payment clock.

When you have a few attendants coming at once, get out of the car and go straight to the pump. Keep an eye on it and make sure it flows correctly. They see a rental car (read "money") from a mile away.

 

17. iPhone 8 and iPhone X For Sale

Tourists are approached by locals who sell new iPhone 8 or iPhone X smartphones for half of the regular price. Or so the tourists think.

Crooks connect with tourists in malls or parking lots. They say in Russia phones are cheaper because of the lower minimum wage, so they are willing to sell a brand new iPhone 8 to you for 6,000 Rubles (or the equivalent of $100US or EURO). "For you, tourists, this is very affordable, but here it's still expensive", adds the trickster.

The scammer claims to work at a local Apple Store and shows you a brand new phone. He lets you play with it. As soon as you decide to buy it, he gives you a brand new iPhone sealed box out of his bag and rushes you to pay the money immediately, as he doesn't want to be seen doing this.

He takes the money and vanishes immediately. While it takes you a few good seconds to unpack the box thinking you've got a fantastic deal, little you know that you'll find a rock in the box. By that time the scammer is long gone.

Buy the iPhone 8 or iPhone X only from the authorized Apple dealers.

 

18. Fake Tourist in Airport

Say you are in Saint Petersburg international airport. A well-dressed gentleman approaches you, introduces himself and tells you he is short 500 Rubles to pay for a boarding charge because he has extra baggage weight.

"Now they charge an extra thousand Rubles if you have more than 20 kilos. They don't take credit cards at the gate, and I only have 500 in cash. Could you please help me out? It's just 500 Rubles ($9). This is my cell phone number and my email address. Please let me pay you back", he says and gives you a fake business card.

He also asks for your email or phone number, to look more convincing. However, the phone number and the email address he gives you are not his.

If you believe he is genuine, here is what to do: when he hands you his business card ask him to show you his ID as well. No shame.

 

19. Bogus Travel Agencies

This practice is one of the most notorious travel scams out there. Criminals create amazing-looking websites for "new" travel agencies offering fantastic last-minute deals for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Wouldn't you like to brag to your friends that you went to the Moscow for only $600 or 300 Euro?

Scammers use pictures stolen from the Internet to promote their 'company' and create fake travel agencies for a month at a time, get hundreds of eager tourists who pay on the spot, and then close down the "business".

sunset with a couple in Russia

 

Websites are created in such a high quality that is hard to differentiate a real business than a fake one. The scammers then proceed to buy a bunch of Google AdSense or Facebook ads and close deals on the spot. After a month of work 'in', they collect, shut down the website and create a new one. Beware!

In a different variation of the scam, criminals duplicate websites of real travel agencies. They use legitimate logos and offer amazing travel deals, luring the victims into filling out an application with their personal information, including credit card numbers that are charged right away.

Report in the Comments section at the end of the article any questionable businesses or travel agencies who offer deals to good to be true.

 

20. Wi-Fi Login in Russia

While you're enjoying your stay at the World Cup, you also want to keep in touch with the family and with what's happening in the world.

Whether emailing back home or posting images on Facebook or Instagram, chances are you will use the Internet in Moscow, St. Petersburg. Kazan, or the other smaller host cities.

Say you are at a coffee shop or a motel you're staying at and open your laptop to connect to any network available on the spot. That's where the scam comes in.

woman in red square moscow on phone

 

Web tricksters set up traps creating fake "Free Wi-Fi" networks, which, once you log in, give them access to your personal data.

They set up fake logins with the name of the coffee shop or hotel/motel you are at. They bank on the fact that once you open the laptop and see the name of the hotel twice (once with a lock icon beside and once without) you'll choose the latter one.

Ask the receptionist or the barista which network is the right one to access. Better safe than sorry.

 

21. Bird Poop Cleaning

This scam is a very popular pick-pocketing trick not only in Russia but also all over the world. Watch the video below to see how it happens:

 

While you are wandering around the streets of Moscow, a substance is squirted on you without knowing. It could be either mustard or something brown in color, looking like bird droppings. An "accidental" bystander informs you of this and - without asking - helps clean the mess from your jacket.

As soon as you are distracted, while embarrassed, he will use the opportunity to pick your pocket. Alternatively, an accomplice (could be his "girlfriend") might grab anything you put down in the process of cleaning up.

 

22. Credit Card Payment In Stores

payment at store with credit card

 

Whether it's for toothpaste, alcohol or souvenirs for your family, chances are you will be using your credit card in Russia. Let's say you do it today.

You grab your purchases and walk up to the counter, anxious to get to the hotel and get ready to watch the games.

You're so excited about having the shopping done, and you're not even bothered by the man behind you texting on his cell phone. You pull out your credit card and start saying to the teller how much you enjoy the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

You think nothing of it and go ahead with your day. It's a few weeks later when you get your credit card statement at home - only to find some charges you didn't make. Little did you know the guy behind you pressing the buttons on his cell phone wasn't texting. 

He was using the video camera and record those seconds when your credit card is passed back and forth between you and the clerk, registering the numbers on it. Front and back, including your full name, expiry date and security code on the back of your card. Then he went and purchased stuff online.

Always be wary of people around you using a phone when you're pulling out your credit card. If you see someone, make sure to cover as much of the numbers as you can.

 

23. Rubles Conversion

Many restaurants, shops, and hotels have their own currency conversion rate and don't adhere to bank' rates. This means that every time you pay with your credit card you are charged extra money without knowing it.

Your best bet is to have the local cash for everything. Pay by credit card only at well-established vendors. The smaller the business, the bigger the charges. Also, currency exchange booths are sources of several scams.

Russian currency banknotes and coins

 

One such scam is when somebody is causing a diversion while the teller counts the money making sure you are not paying attention to his fingers. 

Another one is the delivery of the money in an envelope, so you just pick it up, put it in your pocket and leave before counting. Always ask for a receipt, as well.

 

24. Dynamic Currency Conversion

When you use your credit card in a foreign country, you have the option to have the charges show up in local currency or the one of your home country.

Typically, it is more cost-effective for travelers to pay for things in the currency of the country in which they are traveling due to the exchange rate. Why is that?

By paying in your currency means you are the subject of two conversion fees: the local AND your own. You pay double. Tourists don't realize, but that's exactly how it works. It may not be a lot of money, but if you do 25 transactions during your trip, that could be the equivalent of a few beers.

Depending on where you travel, often merchants will not convert the currency on your card – even if you ask for it to be done – and you are charged the additional funds, plus your card's typical foreign transaction fee.

When using your card in a foreign country, always ask the merchant to honor the conversion to the local currency. If the charge isn't converted on your card, it is wise to photograph your original receipts – showing the purchases being made in Rubles. That way, you have reasons to prove the fraudulent charges to your credit card company.

 

25. Mute or Deaf Panhandlers

As you are enjoying your vacation in Moscow, a few children approach you with a piece of paper and a pen, pretending to be mute or deaf.  On that paper, you can see the names of a few charities, along with some signatures from previous tourists. The kids are not mute or deaf; they are just tricksters making a buck.

Often, the paper and the pen keep the tourist busy for a few seconds, while the children might even pickpocket the victims.

 

26. Feed The Birds

In the historical or cultural parts of some Russian cities, there are people walking around with bags of bird food. They pass them out to tourists, encouraging them to feed the multitudes of birds that frequent the beautiful plazas.

The visitors take the bags and have a wonderful time feeding the birds. Once the feed is gone, the vendor then explains to the tourist that they must pay for the feed, often an exorbitant fee.

 

27. Getting Lost

While wandering on the Moscow streets, you maybe be lost for a few minutes, not knowing where to turn or how to find a train station. It happens all the time to travelers in big cities.

man sitting down at kremlin moscow

 

However, a big part of losing track of their whereabouts comes from some local teenagers, who are misguiding the tourists on purpose. They are not many but beware.

The kids are showing opposite directions when recommending the right way, only to "rescue" the traveler five blocks away, twenty minutes later—in exchange for a few bucks. These little gangs of 12 year-olds are competing for how much money they get when "rescuing" a tourist.

Always have a local map.

 

28. Gold Ring Sale

You visiting, say, the Red Square in Moscow or St. Issac Cathedral in St. Petersburg. As you are feeling inspired by the history of it, a woman holding a baby approaches you.

She apologizes for interrupting and says that she found a gold ring. She shows it to you and says she will give it to you for cheap so that she can get some money to feed her baby.

Don't fall for it. The ring is a very cheap piece of metal.

 

29. Internet Café Banking in Russia

Some crooks work hand in hand with somebody at local coffee shops. The owners are not involved at all, only their part-time workers.

There are two ways you can be victimized in these shops: some have security cameras pointed at keyboards and screens, while others have spyware installed, to monitor keystrokes and gather passwords and personal information to access bank accounts.

mall in moscow russia

 

Of course, the victims suspect nothing and don't realize their accounts have been drained until it's too late. They may eventually be able to get their money back depending on their insurance coverage, but most of the times it's almost impossible.

Never do your banking on a public computer.

 

30. Jewellery From Russian Factory

The crooks are offering fake diamonds and sapphires that look real, making you pay 10,000 Rubles for a $3 piece of zirconium. The scammers make you believe they know somebody at the "jewelry factory" and can get great deals. They will use phrases such as: "this is a blue-white diamond, so rare to find even here".

Especially for valuable jewelry like diamonds, you should never buy except from a registered dealer. Never trust people selling you things when you are a tourist, especially on the streets.

 

31. Trap Night Clubs in Moscow and St. Petersburg

Let's say you and your buddies just arrived in Moscow and wanted to have a good time. While trying to find out which are the hottest spots in town, you might be approached by local friendly people with various recommendations (they spotted you from far away).

night club in st petersburg russia

 

Someone will suggest a bar where "you will definitely hook up with girls". As it may sound tempting, you are accompaigned to an establishment that may night give you the right feeling in the beginning, as it may be located on a darker street.

However, as you walk in, good music and even better 'scenery' gets you into a better mood. Once you sit down, a couple of girls come to say hi and hang out.

You feel good, and you don't mind. Then you order a few drinks to keep the conversation going, but what happens after is that several cocktails or shooters will come out of nowhere, although you never ordered them.

The girls drink fast one after another, while the waitress keeps bringing alcohol to your table without you asking for it. When you try to say that those shouldn't go on your bill, they will hide behind the language barrier and just say short phrases, such as: "tip, tip" or "drink, drink".

You feel something is fishy and try to get up and leave, but a few large men will come your way, asking you to pay the equivalent of $1,000US or Euro bill.

Several victims leave these places with their credit cards maxed out, without their jackets and jewelry, or beaten up. Other times, they are escorted to the closest ATM, to get cash out.

The fact that you are escorted to a "bar" by the referrer himself should be a red flag. Let alone the fact that the street where the bar is located doesn't have a soul on it.

 

32. Public Beach in Sochi

You are enjoying your time on the beach in Sochi. All of sudden, a young gentleman approaches you. He holds a paper pad and claims to be a city representative.

He shows you the apartments located close to the beach and - stating that the beach is the property of that complex – he will ask for the "usual" 600 Rubles ($10) cover charge to use the beach. He could become aggressive if you hesitate.

Beaches are public if a fence or something similar does not enclose them. Don't fall for it; tell him you are calling the police.

sochi beach and city skyline

 

33. Non-Profit Shop For Your Souvenirs

You are trying to buy some souvenirs from Russia and find yourself in small talk with someone who also seems to be a tourist. He will advise you about several fakes around.

He recommends as the perfect souvenir place a shop located a block away. "It's a non-profit shop. They donate half of the proceeds to Red Cross Russia and the other half they use to keep the shop going. I bought a few items already for my family – my mom will love it. Go check it out".

In reality, the shop he talks about is an overpriced store, whose owner will give him a few Rubles for his referral. This scam is not going to leave you without your lifetime savings, but it's certainly something to keep in mind.

russian dolls matrioshkas

 

34. Out of Stock Trick

You are shopping in St. Petersburg and find a video camera (or any other product) advertised for a fantastic price.

You decide to buy it. As the transaction goes through, the seller says they are actually out of stock, and the camera you just played with was only for display and didn't have a charger. "No worries, he says, we have one across the street, at our other location. Let me call them to bring me one."

photo cameras and journalists

 

As you are patiently waiting for a long time, he mentions the camera is not that great and some people had a few complaints about it, "but nothing major to worry, my friend".

What he is trying to do is get you to buy an upgraded version, which is more expensive. He is up-selling you.

Plenty of tourists fall for this, which is why the scam works for the seller. Pay only when you have the product on the counter, in front of you.

 

35. Robbed Tourist in Russia

You are in a Moscow coffee shop. Suddenly, a guy in a hurry, looking like a tourist carrying a backpack approaches you frantically. "Sorry to bother you, man. I've just been robbed, and I need your help. Somebody stole my satchel, and all my documents were in there – passport, ID, cash… From the bottom of my heart, can you please give me $20 for a cab to my hotel so that I can contact my embassy as soon as possible? Please?"

Several people fall for this scam as the con man is persuasive: the speech, gesture, and clothes.

Robberies might be happening, so it might not be a surprise actually to meet somebody who has just been robbed. In this particular case, if he is very convincing, instead of giving him cash offer to drive him to his hotel or embassy, or even let them make a call using your cell phone. If they refuse, just ignore them.

 

36. Short Change

This scam is still happening a lot in several places but preponderantly at corner shops and convenience stores. When you go to pay, the attendant will try to switch - for example - your 2,000 Rubles note with a 500 Ruble note (they are both dark purple collar themed) and then argue with you about it.

There might even be somebody who distracts your attention right when you are ready to pay. While the discussion goes somewhere else for a few seconds, the cashier switches the banknotes. 

When you hand him the bill, ask if he has change for it. Make sure you mention the amount of the note. Also, keep your eyes on the note at all times.

 

37. Wallet Drop

Let's say you are taking a break from all the soccer fever, sitting on a bench and checking your phone. Somebody passes by and accidentally he drops his wallet.

You yell: "Hey, wait!". He can't hear you as some cars might pass by.

black leather wallet

 

The good person you are, you jump off the bench and run 8-10 yards to catch up with him. He picks up the wallet, says thank you, and leaves in a hurry.

You are back at your bench 10 seconds later, but your backpack is gone. You've been a mark since the moment you sat down. They looked at the bag, calculated the moves, and knew exactly where to get you walking – enough for both of them to disappear at the perfect moment.

If you decide to go after the person, grab your bag, especially in busy places.


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