Friendly Face Scammers

Two masks, one is friendly, the other seems malicious.

I call them Friendly Faces (check here for the tag) because of the overfriendly attitude these scammers have while approaching and interacting with their victims.

These random encounters will show themselves as kind, interested and somehow common grounded. They will make you believe that you have found a new friend abroad, or at least an ally.

Of course, not all the friendly people you will meet in your travels are scammers. Quite all the friendly and kind locals and travellers I met while wandering were sincere.

That’s why it might be easy to catch us with our guard down.

They are usually referred to also as “overfriendly locals”.

1) How it works

Friendly Faces are scammers who specialize in selecting victims, charming and luring them to the trap.

For simplicity we have summarized the experiences in 5 types of Friendly Faces that you may encounter. Check the Extras and Thoughts at the end.

They usually stand by where it is easier to find inexperienced tourists and travellers to try their approaches on.

They’ll open the game by making you believe that your meeting is random, starting by asking you questions and showing sympathy and interest.

They will ask you where you are from, if this is your first time visiting the place and where you are headed. This is to measure your experience and what to offer.

Some will just follow and bore you; others may be really good at entertaining and duping you. Their goal is to make you trust them. They are the bait.

When they think they’ve cooked you well enough, the proposal will come.

  • The offering of a gift or blessing (click here to read more)
  • or to sell something,
  • to take you somewhere in particular (to drink, eat, have fun, see things, etc.),
  • to be your guide or drive you somewhere,
  • an ask for donations / help,
  • to change money,
  • to help you somehow (lift your bags, etc.)

This is when they try to pull up the hook.

Sometimes, they just wait for the right moment to rob you or run off with your luggage.

2) What you risk

The triggering of one or more of the scams in our Archives.

Following them, when you are visiting certain countries, might even end up in being drugged, robbed or kidnapped.

3) How to avoid it

I know how good it feels to always think the best of people. However, it is useful to learn to maintain at least a minimum of suspicion towards strangers.

  • Do not lightly share information about yourself or your plans.
  • Don’t follow them, don’t accept rides and don’t trust them. Especially if they insist on taking you somewhere.
  • Do not forget that, while abroad, you may be in a situation of vulnerability and potential disadvantage towards the people you will meet.
  • You’re still going to have to trust someone. To choose well, pay attention to red flags and know how the various scams work from our Scam Archives. Sometimes you may even find ways to break the scammers game and make them go away.
  • Check out the Extras and Thoughts below for some information about Friendly Faces types. This might help you recognize and neutralize them.

Lats but not least, as always, pay attention to your surroundings when you move.

Most of these scammers spend most of the time looking for the right prey and studying them before approaching. You might even catch them following or watching you before they even start talking to you.

4) Extras And Thoughts

This article serves as primary resource within the Friendly Faces tag.

Here is a small list of variations of the Friendly Face routine.

The Overfriendly Local

They usually standby in the areas of first arrival, stations, markets, temples, public historical sites and other places frequented by tourists and foreigners.

With a little patience and attention, you may notice these scammers as they scan passers-by in search of the next potential victim. How they start shadowing them and finally try the approach. It is literally a hunt.

The “Fellow” Foreigner

Almost the same as the local but a little rarer. They tend to be residents in league with local organizations.

They are more credible baits, especially when they pretend to be visiting tourists themselves.

A couple of red flags are when they show excessive familiarity and confidence with the surroundings and insist on taking you to a specific place (as the hot baits, they might lure you in a Bill Trap).

The Hot Bait

Beautiful and handsome locals or foreigners often well dressed and, apparently, very into you.

In addition to acting as bait for many scams, including the Bill Trap, they may also attempt a romance fraud.

“Gifts and Blessings” scams

One of the most common, in its variants, and usually harmless scams in the world. Check here for the article.


The scams related to this tag commonly use this method.

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