In our first “Travel the World, Just Dont’ Get Scammed” series, we feature our first guest, Ele Pranaityte. This is her little misfortune in London. Read on…
When I volunteered a post for a feature about scams I had this one particular scam in mind. The interesting thing is that now, when some time has passed, I am not so sure it was a scam proper. Yes, you might ask, how can a scam be…not scam?
I went to London in 2008. It was my first time there and I planned my routine very carefully and I was sure to include all the major tourist sites. And so, here I was, walking towards the Houses of Parliament, aiming to take a good photo of Big Ben on a clear August day. There I was approached by a woman. She complimented me on my headwear (I was wearing a crocheted cap that keeps my hair safe from wind and is also pretty, obviously) and aksed me where I was from, etc. Then she said she wants to give me something as a sign of welcome, and she stuck a flower pin to my top. I reckon it must have been a daffodil or something. I was like eeee….ooohhhh…..ooookkkkkeyyy…. And then she said she was raising money for charity and it would be nice of me to donate some money for the cause. Translation: I had to pay for the flower that was supposed to be a gift from what I understood.
I have just browsed Wikitravel.org and in the section for common scams it was written: “Another similar scam involves overly pushy people who pose as collecting money for charity. This is particularly common in developed countries. Usually an old woman will approach you, tie a small flower to your shirt and expect you to “donate” money. They never say the specific charity, they often say “for the children.” Inquiring about the specifics of their “charity” may help scare them off. Typically, if they have no name badges or even a charity name, it’s probably not a real charity.“ This was exactly my case but I think she was wearing a sort a banner rather than a badge. Now, coming back to my initial doubt, what if there is a slight chance this was really, really, really for charity? I turned out to be a stingy sponge of a tourist, didn‘t I?
Another story is in my home country but launched on a larger scale, so I take my chance to warn you now. Women of Roma origin with bunches of roses stand on the middle of pavement and hand out flowers to pedestrians. They like to aim at young couples and single women. When you accept the gifted flower, they ask for a few coins. The reason is again for charity. I have seen people hand back their flowers and walk away. Even the police advises to stay away from such flower sellers, so doubts of real charity in this case are waived.
About Ele Pranaityte: I am a traveller, teacher, and tourist guide. I have discovered blogging only about a year ago and I am still on a steep learning curve. I especially want to promote tavelling in one’s own country and set myself a goal to see my country a lot. My travel blog is at http://www.kootvela.blogspot.com
Thank you Ele for sharing! We encountered that as well on our travels. Best advice? Never accept “candy” from strangers, even when they say it’s free.
Like this story? Check out our other story in the “Travel the world, just don’t get scammed” series.
- Travel the world, just don’t get scammed in Havana (1 of 2)!
- Travel the world, just don’t get scammed in Havana (2 of 2)!
If you want to share your short story about a time you have been scammed, leave us a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!
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