Fake Local Guides

Tour Licensed Guide leading a tourist group.

These friendly faces usually approach tourists near historical and religious monuments and places that can be visited.

Some will openly offer themselves as guides of the area.

Others, by inventing excuses or promising wonders, will try to convince you to follow them. All for friendship and without too many explanations.

1) How it works

There is a classic approach that you find on websites, blogs and vlogs. Local scammers after “introducing” themselves will tell you that the place you are heading to is closed to the public. 

Then they will offer to take you somewhere else even more beautiful and important. A temple, a monument, whatever may interest you at the moment.

How they know what you’re interested in is part of friendly faces’ approaching methods.

The light version of this scam will make you walk towards anonymous and uninteresting areas. Perhaps they might even put toghether some bit of historical account or local myth. Then, scammers will ask you for a large payment and protest, even aggressively, in case of your refusal.

Unfortunately, this is not the only risk you may incur following these scammers; so, do yourself a favour and keep reading.

2) What you risk

As mentioned, if you are lucky, it will just be a waste of your time and mood. You will uselessly walk to less interesting places for some short story thrown in a hurry.

The real problem is the potential risks of this scam.

While arguing for their payment, scammers could get you pickpocketed by accomplices.

They may try to take you to one or more tourist traps.

They might also lure you to some isolated area to rob you or worse. The latter is the real reason why you never want to blindly trust these people.

3) How to avoid it

Check our tips about friendly face scammers (click here) and their approaches.

In general, to avoid this scam, just use follow these tips.

– Before heading to your destination, or while you are doing it, check if it is open to the public and usable. Use the official channels to be sure.

– The same goes for tours, tickets and licensed guides. Wherever they are provided, there will also be specific spaces and channels with all the information you will need. Look for them.

– Do not necessarily and exclusively trust the information provided by the locals you meet on the street, even when given in good faith. Always check other sources.Don’t follow strangers you just met in places you don’t know. Kindly refuse even and especially if they insist.

– If you really need to follow someone, find out FIRST where they are taking you and check the internet for any reports about the place.

– If you hire one of these “amateur” guides (since not all of them are scammers), in addition to all the previous rules, explicitly ask for the information you need (like what you are going to visit) and negotiate a fair price.

My gold rule is, with few exceptions, the following. The more they insist on asking you to follow them and make you change direction the more likely they are scammers.

4) Extras and Thoughts

It is not very dissimilar from scenarios where scammers pose as licensed guides or official staff to sell fake tickets or non-existent services.

Although this version is usually more amateurish and the scammers mostly present themselves just as friendly passers-by.

Sometimes, taxi drivers, as well as tuk tuk or rickshaw drivers, might offer you these kind of guided tours. Read here to find out more (“7+1 Taxi Scams Every Traveler Should Know”).

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