Scams to watch out for include cashiers surreptitiously taking mobile phone photos of your cards and having a "baby" thrown at you as a distraction technique.
Taxi drivers, hotel workers and overfriendly locals are among those capable of tricking unsuspecting tourists, travel company Justtheflight.co.uk has claimed.
It named Barcelona as the world's ‘worst’ city for holiday scams following a survey of British tourists, while visitors to Paris and Rome were also warned to be wary.
Here are some of the most common tourist scams around the world, according to the firm.
Common street scammers include those pretending to offer a free product or service, such as a rose for your partner or a music CD, or offering to take a photograph for you, but then aggressively demanding payment afterwards. In worse cases, these "voluntary" photographers will run off with your camera.
Others may be less obvious, such as taxi drivers who offer drugs to a group of tourists on their way to a party. But once the drugs are accepted, fake police appear demanding that a large sum of money be paid to avoid arrest.
Many scams involve some form of distraction, such as a person performing a magic show, which is said to be the most common street scam in London. The performer’s accomplice pickpockets the tourist while they are focused on the street show.
Other distraction schemes include a woman throwing a "baby" (usually just a doll) into your arms. While tourists hold the baby, shocked by the random act, her accomplice will have a poke around your bag and pockets.
Last year, staff at The Louvre in Paris protested against teenage pickpockets operating within. Cash-carrying Chinese and Russian tourists at the Louvre were said to have been targeted by increasingly aggressive thieves, many of them children.
Travel and transport
Taxi drivers overcharging tourists by deliberately taking longer routes are common across the world, but travellers were warned to beware of some taxi drivers (as well as waiters and shop keepers) in Asia who "accidentally" drop your change on the floor and then hand you similar looking, but less valuable coins or notes. In Las Vegas you might run into "getaway drivers" who remove all of your bags from the car boot for you, minus one small bag, and drive off quickly before you could realise it’s missing.
The luggage compartments on some of the cheap overnight charter buses in Thailand are said to be rummaged through by workers looking to steal any valuables. Last year, thieves in Spain took this a step further with the "Trojan Horse" scam, where contortionists infiltrated bus cargo holds by hiding inside a large luggage bag, which was loaded into the hold by an accomplice, in order to steal possessions being transported between popular tourist destinations.
Shops and fake services
Beware of till workers in Barcelona who appear to be on their phone while helping you, as they may actually be taking a photograph of your credit card details to be replicated later. Others across Europe will count through your change at a painfully slow pace, hoping you’ll just get frustrated and ask for the change back swiftly without knowing the wrong amount has been given out.
Official-looking men dressed as policemen in Mexico City, Bogota, Bucharest and Bangkok, were commonly found to check tourists’ wallets, claiming they were looking for fake money that had been circulating in the area. The wallets are then returned with money missing. Fake ticket issuers for different venues were most common in Paris and London.
Helpful or helpless locals
Overly eager and helpful locals across Europe have more than a friendly gesture on their agendas. An English-speaking local who walks you through how to work the local cash machine may in fact be memorising your pin number to use later after you’ve been pickpocketed.
Other seemingly caring European locals will say they’ve just witnessed a pickpocketing incident and warn you to check that your wallet and phone aren’t missing but note where it is for an attempt at stealing it later on. Scammers may also be lurking near beggars to watch where tourists keep their wallets as they reach for them to offer money to the homeless.
Innocent-looking children in Paris working for a charity petition will rummage through your bag, with their hands hidden beneath the clipboard while you look over the petition on it, while other children will pretend to be lost and ask for help in writing a letter or postcard home and guilt-trip tourists into giving them money.
Some hotels across Europe were said to work with taxi drivers in order to convince tourists the hotel they have booked is actually in refurbishment. The driver then takes passengers to a different, more overpriced hotel. Other disreputable hotels copy the names of more popular hotels to convince holidaymakers they have arrived at the correct venue when they haven’t.
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) issued a warning to the public last year about the risk of holiday booking fraud, following a study that showed around 1,000 holiday scams were uncovered in Britain in 2012, costing tourists £1.5 million ($A2.73 million).
Nick Trend, Telegraph Travel’s consumer travel expert, advised there are simple ways to protect yourself against holiday villa and apartment fraud.
“The safest way to book accommodation is through a tour operator as part of a package holiday, as the operator has to take responsibility for the booking and guarantee that you won't lose money. By contrast, many villa rental websites are simply advertising services, and you are booking directly with the owners, not via an agent or operator. You may pay a little less, but there is a greater risk of fraud, and disputes may be more difficult to resolve,” he wrote.
Thieves pretending to be hotel workers were common across the world. Someone would call your hotel room, pretending to be calling from the front desk, and ask you to confirm your credit card details because of an issue that has come up. These calls will happen in the middle of the night as you are less likely to run downstairs in person to settle the issue.
Some scamming duos in Barcelona and Madrid may even show up at your hotel room, fully dressed in the hotel’s uniform, claiming a room inspection is required.
One will talk to you to distract you while the other one attempts to steal your belongings while inspecting the room.
Some scammers will also slide fake takeaway menus under the door of your hotel room, from which you might make an order, giving out your account details and be charged for the meal but never see it arrive.
Justtheflight.co.uk compiled its research from a selection of travel websites, including Lonely Planet and WikiTravel. Click here to read the list of 40 tourist scams to avoid.
The Telegraph, London