How the scam works:
(with video below) You have taken a well-deserved vacation to the one place you’ve always wanted to go. It took all year to save up for not only the trip, but the new $600 lens for your camera. You know better than anyone else- those things don’t run cheap. But you decided it was worth it. A picture is worth a thousand words, but a good one is worth a million.
Arriving at your first destination, you notice a women holding a map and looking utterly confused. Beside her is another tourist who seems to be helping her with directions. As you pass them by, they call you over and ask for help.
‘I’m trying to find…” says the woman, as she turns the map over and sticks it right under your nose, literally. With the map in your face, you are now on a mission to help her. While doing so, the man who was with her originally has somewhere else to be. He wishes the woman good luck, and then goes about his way.
Not even a full minute after he leaves, the woman finally understands where she is and where she needs to go. She thanks you and continues on her own way. You feel good about yourself. That is, until you realize your camera lens is missing.
The woman and the man you seen looking over a map were both decoys to this costly scam! While you were busy helping her (with her the map in your face so you won’t see your own camera), your focus wasn’t on the camera hanging from your neck, nor was your attention on the man’s hand easily releasing the lens and pocketing the profit. After getting a hold of your $600 camera lens, he makes his escape. By the time you realized your lens was gone, he was already lost in the crowd.
Watch the video below to see in action how this camera lens scam happens in St. Petersburg, Russia.
How to avoid:
This clever scam will not work if you’re careful enough. Remember that this could happen to anyone. Wearing something as expensive as a camera around your neck is an invitation for thieves! Always be aware that you are carrying something very valuable out in the open. When talking to someone, rest a hand on your camera.
Let any potential thieves know that you are aware of your surroundings by your firm grip. Another suggestion on how to avoid this scam would be to get a case for your camera. When you aren’t using it, it would be helpful to snap the case on. This would prevent thieves from snatching up your lens, and it would give you a sense of security.
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