If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is…
The old adage is a good one to remember when in Rome and dealing with some of the shadier people that prey on naïve tourists. Hubby and I have heard many tales of tourist woes and several friends have had things stolen in Rome. So mentally we knew the risks. We travel a lot and think of ourselves as savvy tourists. We know how to hide our valuables (or not bring them at all), are aware of our surroundings, and lookout for one another in crowded areas. But even those who are well aware of the games being played out there can get scammed…almost!
We were walking to the Colloseum area when a small oldish car pulled up to us and asked if we spoke English. He proceeded to tell us how he was running late and needed directions to the train station (which was right around the corner). In the process he told us that he was from Milan and worked for a famous designer – even showed us a well-worn notebook of pictures. We used his map to explain how to get there and he wanted to thank us with a gift. He ‘just happened’ to have a really nice leather jacket in Hubby’s size and a designer handbag for me, and he was sure to point out how much they cost. When we refused, he said we offended him and he tried to talk us into keeping them. As we stood there holding the stuff trying to get out of this conversation politely, he then showed us his broken credit card and asked for gas money. Hubby quickly threw the “gifts” in the car and we walked away.
Talking about it afterwards, we both concluded that the various points of the conversation didn’t add up and each of us were having doubts while the situation was occuring – Why would an Italian ask if we spoke English? Why would he not know where the train station was if he had been in Rome for a while? How did he happen to have just Hubby’s size?
After returning home, we found that others have been conned by similar situations. Typically two things happen: the gift bearer demands more than a token for gas (after all, he gave you such nice things) and once the duped people walk away with their jacket and handbag, a motorcyclist quickly rides up and grabs the stuff so it can be reused on the next victim.
Thankfully for us we didn’t lose anything except for a couple minutes of our time. But we were reminded that scammers will take advantage of kindness and peoples’ willingness to help out.
Be alert and when it seems too good to be true, it most likely is!
Just came back from Rome, we, me and two female friends were walking past the Collosseum and two "soldiers" were asking is people wanted phtos, I carried on walking and unfortunately too quietly muttered too my friends that "they would charge" they didnt hear me and alas got charged % euros each, they were holering to me to come back, the soldiers that is, we ended up givign them 5 euros not the 10 they wanted. just beware, not everythign is as it appears.
Check charges on your credit cards as soon as you get home. Paying for meals and purchases on a credit card can be so expensive as businesses such as restaurants ,hotels, and well known car rentals will charge your card with an unwanted charges and fees
Some of you below have experienced this same type of con. My wife and I are in Rome right now. Our experience today led to this search, which brought us to this site. We were walking on the backside of the Vatican when a 60ish male pulled up to us in a older blue car. He asked us for directions in Italian, as he held a map. I guess we stick out as sore thumb as tourists, so be it, I told the man he was asking the wrong people. He gets excited and says, "oh, you're American!". He proceeds to tell us his wife is from Colorado, gaining our interest. He told us he was trying to find the Vatican and that he was a manager for Dolce & Gabana. He pulled out some catalog with a bunch of photos torn out of a magazine. He had his "luggage" in the back seat, but surprise, it was already opened. He told us his name was Mossimo. He was a real smooth and fast talker. I sadly admit, he seemed like a real nice guy, we shook his hand. He was very thankful for the directions, and said he wanted to give a gift for being so nice. He reached in his suitcase and took out a nice replica purse in a new shopping bag and said he would like us to have it. That's when my sixth sense kicked in and knew this guy was full of hot Italian air. I told him he was very nice but we could not accept a gift from him. He looked a bit dissapointed or even offended, but I insisted we not accept a gift from him. He drove off. After reading some of your similar experiences here, it kinda pisses you off this stuff happens. A least it didn't happen to us, even though he was smooth as butter. Be aware, and be cautious.
Train station very crowded. We were traveling at end of July 2012 and about to get on a train to Rome.... we had 5 people and my mother in a wheelchair... so "people helped" by pulling our luggage up onto the train then running out the other entrance to the train with our luggage! Fortunately, a female employee yelled "thieves, thieves" and they put them down and left but not before one of these gypsies came up to me and asked me for a tip for helping us with our luggage!
At the Colosseum, a seller ran to us, grabbed my wrist and tied one on me before I knew what happened. He then demanded money from my boyfriend.
At the top of the Spanish Steps we were stopped by a friendly stallholder and chatted with him. He tied a "wish" bracelet and said it was "for nothing" when we asked how much (being careful after Colosseum-gate). He asked for a little, but saw what my boyfriend had in his wallet and snatched 30 euros. CON MAN, BEWARE.
Less than a minute later, a rose seller gave me roses "for nothing because she beautiful lady" . We gave them straight back after he stared suggesting money.
They seems to prey on those in relationships, so keep the PDA to a minimum, even hand holding!
We had several guys approach us at the Fontana di Trevi offering to "help" us with our pictures. I flat out refused, several times, but they are very persistent. One guy was following my girlfriend suspicously close while eyeing her pocketbook. We didn't have any issues because I managed to recognize what was happening, but I imagine this was a "pay me because I helped you" scam or they were going to snatch the camera or purse and run. We also saw the flower guys at the Spanish steps doing their thing.
I haven't seen it here yet but a couple of days ago in Paris we almost fell prey to a pair of pickpockets but luckily a security guard saw it. Two people approached with petitions, claiming it was for the handicapped. Well apparently while you're preoccupied with the petition ( we were attempting to read it when the guard literally ripped it from my hands ) they rob you.
Types you'd least expect to rob you blind will in the Rome train station - and the cops now it well, so beware - nobody official cares. There's a con where a seemingly nice young man offers to help you locate your train car. An old man is already sitting in the car when you arrive. There's some discussion about being in the wrong car. As you get settled, mothers with babies and other young girls come and dispute your seat. Then the young man settles it with the others. Then you realize you've all been robbed.
Try and find the police station in the train station. It's all but hidden. Once there, it's as confusing as the train car situation. Police take you back to a room full of mothers with babies, young girls and men all shouting and you're asked to identify the robbers. Sure thing.
I think I've seen enough of Rome for a lifetime. This was a special birthday celebration and it happened within the first hour of stepping foot in Rome. I, alone, lost over $700 which was painful because I was unemployed recently.
Ciao - good riddance and to those who defend gypsies....ask about the Franciscan Friar who lost, not only his life, but his shoes and clothes (November 2010).
Like all the others we were very cautious when in Rome and alert for pickpockets and rose sellers. But One day when we went to visit the Terme de Caracalla, we took the wrong way, missed the entrance and we had to surround the place in order to get to the entrance. While we were looking on the map, then in the garden, a car stops and asks for directions, the Colloseum. As good people, without thinking and angry because we missed the entranced, we approached to help the driver. We explained the road on the map while he was telling us he is French, he was looking for the French embassy. when he asked about us, he said he was the representative of Versace in Bucharest. We shook hands, and he told us that he loves Romanian and he wanted to give us a present. He was very kind and trying to get us more inside the car, with our heads. We avoided that. Then when to leave he gives us some leather jackets and tells us to give him some money for the gas. I said no, he insisted, I said 1 euro, he said 20. My husband got 5euros and he was crying for 20. When I said no again he grabbed my 5 euros from the hand, took the jackets and drove fast. after that we thought of the danger. If he had taken us the bags when he tried to make us put our heads in, he could have easily taken the bags, to run over us. And at some point I noticed a motorbike behind the car, looking at us. I do not know what happened with it but now I am pretty sure they were together, trying to rob us. we were in an isolated area. 50 meters after another car stopped and tried to ask us something but this time we did not stop at all. In this world it is not good to be good and help others because you can be hurt. It was the first time, after many trips in many countries so I got a sour taste...Italians are very mean-most of them. although people say Romanians are bad, I am proud to say that I am a trustful Romanian. They met only the cons, beggars and gypsies, people that do not represent us.
Always count your change after the shop attendant or train ticket salesman hands it to you before departing the counter. We have experienced a number of occasions especially in the souvenir shops in the Vatican Museum in Rome and at Naples Train Station where the staff short change you and pocket the cash. When confronted with the shortchanging they are very quick to give you the exact amount missing despite the language barrier!!
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