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Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy – and How To Avoid Them

Do you want to know some of the most common tourist scams in Rome, Italy ? This post will tell you what they are and how to avoid them .

Rome is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world, offering a wealth of historical and cultural attractions, world-renowned cuisine, and beautiful scenery.

Unfortunately, with the high number of tourists also comes a higher risk of scams and other forms of tourist traps. When it comes to these, the Italian capital is no different from New York, Paris, or London .

Scammers in Rome can be found in many tourist hotspots and can take advantage of unsuspecting visitors in a variety of ways, from overpriced goods to fake tickets to pickpocketing.

To help you avoid being scammed during your trip to Rome, we have put together this guide to the most common tourist scams in Rome and how to avoid them. By familiarizing yourself with these scams and taking steps to protect yourself, you can enjoy your trip to Rome with peace of mind.

Table of Contents

8 Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy

Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy - and How To Avoid Them

Rome, a top tourist spot, lures millions of visitors annually. Unfortunately, with so many tourists, there are also many scams and schemes aimed at taking advantage of unsuspecting visitors.

Discover 8 prevalent tourist scams in Rome and learn how to steer clear of them.

1. Street sellers

Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy - and How To Avoid Them

Counterfeit goods are a common form of street seller scam in Rome. Street vendors sell counterfeit designer items like bags , shades , and watches at unbelievable prices. You can spot them in famous tourist spots like the Colosseum , Trevi Fountain, and Spanish Steps.

To avoid falling for these scams, steer clear of street vendors, particularly those who approach you forcefully. Keep moving forward and pay no attention to them.

Be mindful of your possessions. Prevent theft by keeping your bags and personal belongings close to you at all times, as some vendors may use distraction techniques.

Beware of selfie sticks. Vendors can be pushy when it comes to selling selfie sticks, sometimes even tailing you until you give in and buy one. Decline their offers politely and leave.

Report suspicious activity or scams to the police immediately.

2. Fake petition

Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy - and How To Avoid Them

In Rome, a common scam involves someone approaching you on the street or in a public place and requesting your signature for a petition. Beware of petitions that seem to support a charity or political cause, as they may be fraudulent attempts to deceive you.

After signing the petition, the person will request a donation for their cause. Unfortunately, the money is probably lining the scammer’s pockets.

To avoid such scams, it’s wise to exercise caution and skepticism when approached by unfamiliar individuals requesting money or signatures. Don’t talk to them and don’t share any personal details or money.

To ensure the legitimacy of a petition, ask for the organization’s identification or research online before signing (make sure you have your phone on a lanyard).

Reporting suspicious activity to the authorities or local police is a wise move, as it enables them to investigate and take appropriate action.

3. Fake gladiators

Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy - and How To Avoid Them

Tourists in Rome are often targeted by the fake gladiator scam. Gladiator-clad individuals often approach tourists in bustling areas like the Colosseum or Roman Forum. They might request a picture of you or suggest taking a photo of you holding their weapon or shield. Once the picture is taken, they will insist on being paid for their work.

These gladiators lack official licensing and regulation. They may display aggression and confrontational behavior if payment is denied.

To avoid this scam, it’s best to steer clear of these fraudulent gladiators and not interact with them at all. In case of aggression or unreasonable demands for more money, it’s best to leave and contact the local authorities for assistance if needed.

Real gladiators in ancient Rome were skilled professionals who followed strict regulations regarding their attire and weaponry. Rome’s street gladiators of today are merely deceitful swindlers seeking to capitalize on unsuspecting tourists.

Stay vigilant while visiting crowded tourist spots and confidently decline any suspicious or threatening offers.

4. Fake tickets

Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy - and How To Avoid Them

Tourists in Rome are often targeted by scammers selling fake tickets to popular attractions like the Colosseum, Vatican Museums, and Sistine Chapel. Tourist scammers sell discounted attraction tickets by approaching visitors outside or nearby the attraction.

Beware of counterfeit tickets that may appear genuine but won’t get you into the attraction. Upon arrival at the entrance, the scammer will have absconded with your money, leaving you denied entry.

To avoid the scam, buy tickets only from authorized sources like the attraction’s website, ticket office, or authorized resellers. Beware of individuals selling tickets at a steep discount or vending them on the street.

If you end up with a fake ticket, avoid confronting the scammer. Report the incident to the authorities or local police to seek their assistance in obtaining a refund or taking legal action against the scammer.

To steer clear of this scam, always buy tickets from authorized sources and be wary of those peddling discounted or street-sold tickets.

• MUST-READ: 10 Best Free Museums in Rome, Italy

5. Fake currency

Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy - and How To Avoid Them

The Rome counterfeit currency scam is a fraudulent scheme that offers fake money. Tourist-targeting scammers may offer to exchange foreign currency for euros at a good rate in crowded places. The money they offer may turn out to be fake, catching you off guard only after the deal is done.

To avoid this scam, stick to authorized currency exchange offices or banks for money exchange. Beware of street money exchangers offering suspiciously favorable rates. Inspect the currency meticulously for any signs of tearing, damage, or suspicious markings.

Knowing the security features of euro bills, like watermarks, security threads, and holograms, can aid in detecting counterfeit bills. Report any counterfeit bills to the police or local authorities promptly.

To avoid falling for scams, stick to authorized currency exchange offices or banks when exchanging money. Beware of suspiciously low rates and scrutinize all currency received with care.

6. Fake taxi drivers

Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy - and How To Avoid Them

Tourists in Rome are often targeted by scammers who pretend to be taxi drivers and overcharge them. This is known as the fake taxi driver scam.

Fake taxi drivers target tourists at transportation hubs or popular tourist spots, luring them with offers of transportation to their desired location. The driver may choose to take a longer route, resulting in a higher fare.

Stick to authorized taxi services or ride-hailing apps like Uber or Lyft to avoid falling prey to this scam. Choose licensed taxis with a roof sign, meter, and license number on the side of the vehicle.

Don’t ride in unmarked or unlicensed vehicles. To ensure your safety while taking a taxi, you can either request the driver’s identification or seek help from a nearby hotel or tourist information desk.

To avoid any confusion, always agree on a fare and ensure that the meter is used when taking a taxi. If the driver doesn’t use the meter or demands a higher fare, it’s wise to leave the taxi and hail another one.

Stay safe from fake taxi driver scams in Rome by sticking to official taxi services or ride-hailing apps, being wary of unmarked or unlicensed taxis, agreeing on the fare beforehand, and making sure the meter is used to calculate the fare.

7. Friendship bracelets

Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy - and How To Avoid Them

Street vendors in Rome often use the friendship bracelet scam to deceive tourists. Vendors often approach you with a vibrant bracelet, offering it as a friendly gesture or token of camaraderie. After tying the bracelet, the vendor will ask for a payment, usually at a higher price.

Avoid street vendors selling friendship bracelets to avoid getting scammed. Decline their offer politely and continue walking. In case of persistence or aggression, it’s advisable to leave and get help from the authorities.

Beware of free offers, particularly in bustling tourist spots, as they may not be what they seem. Beware of free lunches and suspiciously good deals.

To steer clear of the friendship bracelet scam in Rome, refrain from interacting with street vendors peddling these trinkets. If a vendor ties a bracelet on your wrist without your consent, do not pay them. Contact the local authorities for help if needed.

8. Restaurant scams

Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy - and How To Avoid Them

Rome’s restaurant scams come in various forms. Be wary of common restaurant scams in Rome such as overpriced menus, undisclosed cover charges, or unsolicited items added to your bill.

Touristy areas are hotspots for restaurant scams, but they can occur anywhere.

Before visiting a restaurant, make sure to research it to ensure it has good reviews and a good reputation. Steer clear of restaurants with many negative reviews or complaints of overcharging.

Before placing your order, it is important to thoroughly review the menu and prices. To avoid overpaying, ask for the regular menu instead of the potentially pricier tourist menu at restaurants. Before placing your order, kindly ask your server if there are any additional charges, including cover charges. Ensure the menu displays the cover charge if applicable.

Be vigilant with your bill. Before settling it, make sure to review it for inaccuracies or items you didn’t ask for. Report any inconsistencies to your server or manager. Credit card payment offers extra protection for disputing charges.

Protect yourself from restaurant scams in Rome by researching beforehand, verifying menu and prices, inquiring about extra charges, scrutinizing your bill, using a credit card, and relying on your intuition.

Although Rome is a captivating city, it’s crucial to stay vigilant against prevalent scams to ensure your safety. Stay alert and use your intuition to steer clear of scams while enjoying your trip to Rome.

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Top 7 Places in Rome Where There Are Tourist Scammers

Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy - and How To Avoid Them

Rome is a beautiful city – but, unfortunately, tourist scams are a common occurrence. It’s important to be aware of the areas that are more notorious for these scams so that you can take extra precautions.

Discover 7 spots in Rome that require extra attention to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

1. Colosseum

Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy - and How To Avoid Them

If you’re planning to visit the Colosseum, it’s important to be aware of the presence of fake gladiators in the surrounding area. These individuals may approach you and offer to take photos with you, but be aware that they will likely demand payment for their services.

To avoid any unexpected expenses, it’s best to politely decline their offers and stick to taking photos on your own.

2. Trevi Fountain

Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy - and How To Avoid Them

The Trevi Fountain is a stunning Baroque masterpiece located in the heart of Rome, Italy. It is the largest and most famous fountain in the city, standing 85 feet tall and 65 feet wide. The fountain features a magnificent sculpture of the sea god Neptune, surrounded by tritons and other mythical creatures.

The Trevi Fountain is a must-see destination for tourists, but it’s important to be aware of the potential for pickpocketing in the area.

Stay vigilant and keep your belongings close to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit to this iconic landmark. This area requires extra caution when it comes to safeguarding your belongings.

3. The Vatican

Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy - and How To Avoid Them

Vatican City is an independent city-state located within the city of Rome, Italy. It is the smallest country in the world, with an area of only 44 hectares and a population of approximately 800 people.

Vatican City is the spiritual and administrative center of the Roman Catholic Church, and it is home to some of the world’s most famous art and architecture, including St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.

The Vatican is a renowned spot for tourists seeking to explore its rich history and culture. However, it’s important to be aware of scammers who prey on unsuspecting visitors by peddling counterfeit tickets to the Vatican Museums and other popular attractions.

Stay vigilant and avoid falling victim to these fraudulent schemes.

4. Spanish Steps

Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy - and How To Avoid Them

The Spanish Steps are a beautiful and iconic landmark located in Rome. This stunning staircase consists of 135 steps and was built in the 18th century to connect the Piazza di Spagna at the base with the Trinità dei Monti church at the top.

The Spanish Steps are a must-visit destination for tourists, but it’s important to be aware that the area is also a hub for street vendors selling affordable souvenirs.

5. Termini Station

Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy - and How To Avoid Them

Termini Station is the main railway station in Rome. It is located in the heart of the city and serves as a transportation hub for both locals and tourists.

The station is known for its impressive architecture and bustling atmosphere, with a wide range of shops, restaurants, and services available to travelers.

However, it’s important to stay alert and aware of your surroundings as pickpockets and scam artists often prey on distracted or disoriented travelers. Keep your belongings close and be cautious of anyone who approaches you with unsolicited offers or requests.

By staying vigilant, you can ensure a safe and stress-free travel experience through Termini Station.

6. Piazza Navona

Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy - and How To Avoid Them

Piazza Navona is a beautiful public square located in the heart of Rome. It is known for its stunning Baroque architecture and magnificent fountains, including the famous Fountain of the Four Rivers.

Piazza Navona is a bustling hub for tourists seeking a taste of Rome’s vibrant culture. However, it’s important to be aware that the area is also frequented by street performers who may request payment for photos or other interactions.

Keep your wits about you and enjoy the lively atmosphere of this iconic location!

7. Trastevere

Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy - and How To Avoid Them

Trastevere is a delightful and sought-after district. However, it’s also a place where you should be cautious of swindlers. They may approach you with the promise of leading you to an exclusive eatery or watering hole that ends up being either too expensive or of poor quality.

Although some areas in Rome are notorious for tourist scams, it’s crucial to stay alert and mindful of your environment regardless of your location.

9 Ways To Stay Safe from Scammers in Rome

Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy - and How To Avoid Them

Rome is a city that boasts stunning beauty and captivating history. However, it is also a place where tourists need to be cautious of scammers who prey on unsuspecting visitors.

Discover how to protect yourself from scammers in Rome with these helpful tips!

1. Always stay alert and mindful of your environment

Keep an eye out for any potential hazards or obstacles that may be in your path. By being aware of your surroundings, you can stay safe and avoid any unnecessary accidents or incidents. So, take a moment to look around and stay vigilant!

Be vigilant and keep yourself informed of your surroundings. When things appear doubtful or overly promising, likely, they are not what they seem.

2. Guard your belongings

Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy - and How To Avoid Them

Rome is notorious for pickpocketing incidents, so it’s important to keep your valuable possessions close to your body. Be extra cautious in crowded places and stay vigilant at all times.

• ALSO READ: Rome Packing List: What To Pack for Rome for All Seasons

3. Only buy from authorized/official vendors

These vendors have been authorized by the manufacturer or service provider to sell their products or services, and they are held to a high standard of quality and customer service.

By using official vendors, you can have peace of mind knowing that you are getting the real deal and that any issues or concerns will be addressed promptly and professionally.

Street vendors may offer counterfeit items that are not only of poor quality but also illegal. So, be a smart shopper and stick to official vendors to avoid any disappointment.

4. Research before your trip

To ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to Rome, it’s important to do some research on common scams that tourists may encounter and learn how to avoid them.

By taking the time to educate yourself on these potential pitfalls, you can better protect yourself and your belongings while exploring this beautiful city.

By following these tips, you can equip yourself with the necessary knowledge to identify and avoid potential scams.

Stay vigilant and protect yourself from fraudulent activities.

5. Beware of deals or offers that appear too good to be true

They often are!

It’s always important to trust your instincts and exercise caution when faced with potentially risky situations. If something seems off or suspicious, don’t hesitate to say no or remove yourself from the situation.

Remember, your safety and well-being should always be a top priority.

6. Stay alert and trust your instincts

It’s important to exercise caution when interacting with people you don’t know. Taking steps to protect yourself can help ensure your safety and well-being.

Rome is a city known for its warm and welcoming people, but it’s always wise to exercise caution when approached by strangers who ask for money or offer unsolicited help. Stay alert and trust your instincts to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience in the Eternal City.

7. Only use licensed taxis

Licensed taxis are regulated by the local government and undergo regular inspections to ensure they meet safety standards.

By choosing a licensed taxi, you can have peace of mind knowing that the driver is qualified and the vehicle is properly maintained. So, next time you need a ride, make sure to choose a licensed taxi for a safe and comfortable journey.

We also recommended using licensed taxi services or reputable ride-hailing apps when in need of transportation. By doing so, you can have peace of mind knowing that your driver has undergone proper background checks and that the vehicle meets safety standards.

8. Make sure your documents are safe

Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy - and How To Avoid Them

It is crucial to ensure the safety of your important documents. Taking necessary measures to protect them from damage or loss can save you from potential trouble in the future.

To ensure the safety of your passport, ID, and other crucial documents, it’s recommended to store them in a secure location like a hotel safe. This will give you peace of mind and protect your valuable possessions from potential loss or theft.

9. Stay only in safe areas

To ensure your safety, it is recommended that you stay in areas that are known to be safe. By doing so, you can avoid potential risks and enjoy your surroundings with the peace of mind. Remember, safety should always be a top priority!

Stick to well-lit and populated areas, especially when it’s dark outside. This will not only help you avoid potential danger but also give you peace of mind while you’re out and about.

7 Top Useful Italian Phrases To Avoid Scammers in Rome

Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy - and How To Avoid Them

If you’re planning a trip to Rome, it’s a good idea to brush up on some basic Italian phrases to protect yourself from scammers.

With a few key phrases under your belt, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the city and avoid any potential scams. So why not take a little time to learn some Italian before your trip? It could save you a lot of trouble in the long run!

To enhance your communication skills, here are some essential phrases that you should keep in mind. These phrases can help you express yourself more effectively and build stronger relationships with others. So, make sure to practice them regularly and incorporate them into your daily conversations.

1. “ No grazie “

When someone offers you something you don’t want, you can politely decline by saying “ No grazie .”

This phrase is Italian for “no thank you” and is a great way to show your appreciation for the offer while also politely declining.

So, the next time you’re offered something you don’t want, remember to use “ No grazie ” to decline politely and respectfully.

2. “ Non capisco “

“ Non capisco ” is an Italian phrase that translates to “I don’t understand” in English.

It’s a useful expression to convey confusion when someone is speaking too quickly or in a convoluted manner.

3. “ Quanto costa? “

When making a purchase, it’s always wise to ask “How much does it cost?” to avoid being overcharged.

In Italian, you say this as “ Quanto costa? ” This simple question can help you ensure that you’re getting a fair deal on goods or services.

4. “ È troppo caro “

If you feel like you’re being overcharged, you can use the phrase “ È troppo caro ” which translates to “It’s too expensive.”

This phrase is a great way to communicate your dissatisfaction with the price and let the other person know that you’re not willing to pay that much.

5. “ Non ho contanti “

If you ever find yourself in a situation where someone is pressuring you for money, you can confidently say “ Non ho contanti ” which means “I don’t have cash” in Italian.

This phrase is a straightforward way to communicate that you are not able to provide them with the money they are asking for.

6. “ Ho bisogno di aiuto “

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you feel unsafe or need assistance from the authorities, remember the phrase “ Ho bisogno di aiuto .”

This simple phrase means “I need help” in Italian and can be a lifesaver in an emergency. Don’t hesitate to use it if you need to call for help.

7. “ Vada via “

“ Vada via ” is a useful Italian phrase that translates to “go away.” It can come in handy when dealing with persistent scammers or sellers who won’t take no for an answer.

By using this phrase, you can firmly and politely let them know that you’re not interested in what they’re offering. So, next time you encounter such a situation, remember to use “ vada via ” and watch them leave with a smile on your face.

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rome tourist scams

10 Common Scams in Rome

...and how to avoid them.

These common scams in Rome can make your trip to the so-called 'Eternal City' eternally memorable... and not in a good way. Rome is one of the most visited cities on the entire planet. It’s only natural that it also attracts a few fraudulent folks performing petty crimes for a fast buck.

With a bit of insight, you can avoid falling victim to most of these known shady practices. Most are carried out in broad daylight and can sometimes turn into a battle of wits. The more aware you are of how these scammers play their game, the higher your chances of winning. It's best to acquaint yourself with these known scams in Rome, and how to avoid them altogether.

Bus 64: The Pickpocket Express

rome tourist scams

Despite servicing one of the most useful routes within the city center, many wallets have disappeared from visitors’ pockets on this bus ride. It shuttles regularly between St. Peter's Square and Termini Station, with frequent stops in between. Throngs get on at each stop, and it’s easy to lose sight and sense of your belongings in a cramped-up situation. Getting off is the tricky part. Scuffling helps disguise any swift acts of thievery faster than you can say, “Arrivederci!”

How to avoid: Wear a money belt instead and carry less loose belongings with you. The tourist-friendly hop-on hop-off sightseeing buses are a safer, but more expensive, alternate.

rome tourist scams

If you realize your wallet (or credit card, passport, etc.) is missing, immediately report to your bank and cancel your credit card. Thieves might try to trick you out of your personal information. They might call you, posing as your bank, to “assist” while phishing your card details. Random scammers might even call your hotel room acting as the front desk, to “confirm” your credit card details.

How to avoid: Never give out personal info, including credit card details over the phone.

rome tourist scams

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Friendly but "lost” drivers asking for petrol money.

rome tourist scams

This classic scenario usually begins with you crossing paths with a dapper gentleman who looks slightly confused, saying he’s from out of town and figuring out where he is. If you get acquainted, he’ll claim to be working for a big brand Italian designer house, and show you some of the samples in his car. He’ll then hand you a watch, suede jacket or bag as a gift, because you’ve just become “friends”. Next: his fuel gauge is “near-empty” and he ran out of cash – asking if you could spare some in return, more than the real value of those knock-off items.

How to avoid: Meeting locals and making friends is great, but don't forget your common sense.

Fake charity petitions

rome tourist scams

When walking down a bustling Roman street near a famous site, you might be approached by a “deaf and mute” person with a seemingly legit charity petition to sign. He or she then asks for a “generous” donation. In worst cases, they work together with their pickpocketing friends in crowded places.

How to avoid: Hold on to your precious euros. A stern “no” usually works.

Fake polizia

rome tourist scams

These fraudsters sometimes pose as plainclothes police officers, most of the time in uniform. They also usually work in pairs for that extra effect when they come up to you for an impromptu “security check”. They’ll ask you to open your bag and ultimately your passport and wallet, either for personal info or just a few of your euro bills.

How to avoid: Never hand over your belongings in public. Ask to be checked at the nearest police station.

'Friendly' local drinking buddies

rome tourist scams

A few shady bars and some clubs in Rome target tourists and add extra charges to the bill – up to €1,000 or more in the worst cases. Thankfully, these places are rare. Touts operate around Rome’s popular spots, giving away such things as “free tickets” to clubs and advertizing live shows targeted towards guys. Others do the “local friend” approach, along the lines of, “Hey, I know this cool place.” It’s probably not that cool.

How to avoid: Don’t get too acquainted. Tell them you have other fixed plans. You can also try asking for a different spot you probably know – see how adamant they can be of their chosen “cool place”.

Friendship bracelets

rome tourist scams

If a smiling stranger says says "hi" and either places a colorful thread on your shoulder or forces a small souvenir of some sort in your hand, insisting that it’s a gift, it's not. If you don’t assertively refuse after a few attempts, more friendly chatter ensues while swiftly showing you how a friendship bracelet is made, right on your wrist. They then claim to be out of cash and ask you for a generous price in return for the gift. It’s a slight hassle to take off. Sometimes, it’s also another form of distraction for accomplices targeting your back pockets.

How to avoid: Simply refuse, say “no thanks” up front and don’t let them hand you anything. Shrug off anything placed on your shoulder.

rome tourist scams

Taxi fares are normally clearly shown on the side of taxis, inclusive of luggage and all extra charges. But unscrupulous drivers – especially at airports and train stations – may try to milk out more euros from travel-worn passengers whenever they can. Tricks range from giving back the wrong amount of change, to meters switched to pricier weekend rates for weekday rides.

How to avoid: Have small cash ready for the fare. Only take the official white Roma Capitale taxis. Rather than flagging one down, find a taxi stand available at most of the popular sites such as near the Trevi Fountain or the Colosseum, one of the points of greatest interest and with a very particular hotel offering . Also, ask about the different meter readings if they confuse you.

Tour package touts

rome tourist scams

You’ll come across plenty of touts around the Vatican offering tour packages. They’re usually more expensive than the normal price, and feature good packaged deals ranging from skipping the lines to having tea with the Pope. Some even offer “guided” tours, only to have you entering the site like regular visitors – after several hours of waiting in line. Inside, some spots might as well be off limits to what you were sold.

How to avoid: Try to pre-book your visits or just avoid these people in the normal queues (some days it might not be that long).

Overpriced, under-flavored touristy restaurants

rome tourist scams

Like in any part of the world, almost every restaurant or café near Rome’s major tourist sites are… touristy with a tendency of being overpriced. Walk a slight distance away and you’ll find humble and homey (sometimes unnamed) local spots with cheaper and well-seasoned menu items. In any case, your bill should be itemized, and in the event of suspicious overcharging or showing items that you never ordered, you can politely ask them to fix it.

How to avoid: Touristy restaurants in Rome usually have waiting staff near the entrance to usher you in, or flaunting their clearly named “Tourist Menu” with items in English.

This article includes opinions of the Go Guides editorial team. Hotels.com compensates authors for their writing appearing on this site; such compensation may include travel and other costs.

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Scams & Tourist Traps

Rome welcomes upwards of 10 million tourists every year, so there will be some things to watch out for. Scams and tourist traps are prominent in every major city as they have a large audience of scammers. I want to give you a list of some common traps that might give you a poor impression of the beautiful city of Rome.

Putting aside the romanticism for a moment, it is important to educate oneself on the possible tourist traps that are common in a big city and those that are authentic to Rome itself.

1. Friendship Bracelets and Roses as Gifts

Although friendship is in the title, if you’re given a rose or a bracelet as a gift from a stranger in the streets of Rome, most likely it is not friendship they’re after.

What Is The Scam:

  • A popular scam in Rome is the people who approach you, start a friendly conversation, then give you a bracelet or rose and tell you it’s a gift. The catch is that then they ask for money in return.
  • The idea is that you feel some obligation to return the favour. It is a play on people’s kindness. You get a “gift”, and they get money.
  • Sometimes the bracelet is tied on your wrist and impossible to take off, leaving the receiver of the “gift” feeling forced to pay.

Where It Happens:

  • Historic centre

Be Aware: 

Occasionally these “sellers” can also get a little passive-aggressive when someone doesn’t repay their “kindness” with a few euros.

  • As strange as it feels, I recommend smiling, shaking your head no, and turning your back or walking away.
  • If it is easily removable, return it to them or place it nearby.
  • Remember you are not obligated to pay, but you can give some coins if you’d like.

I didn’t mean to scare you with that title. During your time in Rome, eat gelato . And lots of it. But make sure you’re getting the best of the best.

  • Gelato that is bright in all shades.
  • Gelato is mountainous in the containers.
  • Gelato looks too shiny.

Just because there is a line doesn’t mean that it is the best. Check if it has what I mentioned above before waiting under the hot Italian sun for only a mediocre gelato.

  • Look for deep/dull colours.

Bright and eye-catching colours most likely means unnecessarily added dyes.

  • Stay away from gelato that is very shiny.

Too shiny means there is a probability that it has an excess of added sugars and is on the older side.

  • Look for a gelateria that covers over their gelato. You’ll see just the silver lids

If they do not cover their gelato, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. Check for the other factors. Personally, I always prefer the gelaterias that keep it covered.

  • If the gelato is stacked up high in a little mountain behind the glass, keep walking until you hit the next gelateria.

3. The Tourist Menu

In Rome, you’ll see many restaurants . While you might be able to get some good food at most of them, there are some things you can look for to guarantee you’re getting delicious and fresh food in Rome.

  • Large menus that offer every Italian dish you can think of.
  • Out-of-season food.
  • Overpriced, simple dishes.

Remember that in Rome, especially in the historic centre, kitchens are small. So the chances are, if you see a menu advertising every Italian dish you’ve ever heard of, some, if not most, of the ingredients will be frozen and then warmed up for you.

  • Try to stick to menus that are not too expansive.
  • Go to restaurants based on the food you’re looking for. If you want pizza, look for a pizzeria.
  • Listen to locals about where to eat, they always know the best.

 4. Street Artists

Italy is well known for its artisans. But in a city like Rome, there are bound to be a few “fakers” trying to make some money off of tourists.

  • People who present themselves as artists in the streets of Rome showcasing many finished and beautiful art pieces that are not theirs and/or just printed and copied art.
  • They often have some open paint and a half-finished painting nearby but never seem to get very far on a new piece.

Some of these “artists” can be convincing. Watch for a little bit to see if they really do some work on a current piece.

  • Look for art that is unique, not art that looks the same as what you’ve seen all over Rome and other Italian cities.
  • Ask the artist if they have an Instagram page, and see if there is a legitimate way to purchase their art that is not on the streets.

5. Pickpockets In Rome

Something that almost everyone has been warned about before heading to any high tourism destination is pickpockets.

  • People stealing belongings: wallets, phones, purses, backpacks, etc.
  • Pickpockets prey mostly on tourists. Tourists might have their guard down and be distracted. 

This could make it easier for pickpockets to sneak things out of your bags and pockets without being detected.

  • Train stations

Pickpockets in different cities and different locations in the same city might use different techniques. Generally, pickpockets will work in groups, and they target busy areas of the city.

  • Always keep your guard up in areas that are very busy.
  • Try to wear crossbody purses on the front of your person.
  • Don’t put valuable items in your back pockets or in easy-to-reach places in your bag.
  • With a backpack, my mom’s best trick is getting carabiners to lock the zippers together, making your bag a bad and slow choice to pick at.

6. Overcharging

When you finally arrive in Rome for your holiday, the last thing you want is to see a big sum of the hard-earned money you saved gone all in one go. I want to tell you about how some places will overcharge and how you can avoid this situation.

  • Restaurants, bars, shops, etc., overcharging customers.
  • They often get away with this by not having pieces listed.
  • Historic Centre

If you happen to find yourself in this “scammy” situation, the person who is trying to scam you might give you an attitude or get passive-aggressive when you ask to see a menu with prices or for a bill. Don’t worry. In the end, you won’t see them again after that interaction. And, if they are not scamming you, they’ll have no problem providing what you asked for.

  • Get a general idea of what common things should cost in your area. 

For example, ask your hotel /host what a pasta dish/ pizza /coffee should generally cost. This way, you’ll have an idea in mind, and when the price seems far too high, you’ll know you might be getting scammed.

  • If you are given a menu, always make sure prices are listed. Don’t be scared to ask for a menu with prices.
  • You must get a receipt after every purchase. No matter what you’re buying and whether you pay cash or card, you should be receiving a receipt. If you are not given one, please ask. It is actually illegal not to be given a receipt after a purchase in Italy.
  • If you are getting scammed and the scammer is refusing to show prices, continues to insist you pay a very high amount, or even if you did pay an amount that is too high, Italy has something called the Guardia di Finanza. The Guardia di Finanza is who you need to call whenever a financial crime is happening. 

If you need it, their number is 117.

7. The “Helpful Local”

I call this tourist trap the “helpful local” because these scammers normally target the tourists who really are in need of help. Even though a scammer may be close by to help you out, I’ll tell you what you should do instead.

  • This tourist trap often happens around ticket vending machines. The scammer is standing nearby, and when they see a tourist a little puzzled or struggling with the machine for whatever reason, they jump in and offer to help.
  • The thing is, after they help you, they’ll ask for money. 
  • Another potential outcome of this scam is that while they’re helping you, they have a friend close by who pickpockets you while you’re distracted.
  • Metro stations
  • Transport hubs
  • Anywhere where there are ticket vending machines

Sometimes these people can be very well disguised, and they can make it very difficult to reject their help.

  • Generally, if you’re at a ticket vending machine, no one who does not want to scam you will help you unless you directly ask for help. If someone approaches you first, most likely, they are looking to make some money from you.
  • If you need help, ask someone who works wherever you are. 

In most metro stops and stations, there are booths near where you purchase tickets. Inside those booths or nearby, there should be people in uniform.

  • If there are no workers around, ask a local. 
  • When purchasing tickets, keep an eye on your purse/backpack/bags. As many people leave their bags open to take out and then put back their wallets, it leaves a good opportunity for pickpockets.

8. The Fake Taxi

You’ve been walking all day, you just want to be back at your hotel, and a taxi is the quickest way. Nothing wrong with that. Just make sure that you are using an official taxi and not a fake one.

  • People who offer a taxi service but are not an official taxi. Because of this, they often create their own prices and scam tourists by charging a lot.
  • Or, not as common as official taxis that use their meter incorrectly as a way to get more money from customers. They might forget to turn it on until much later or not at all and then decide on a fee that is much higher than what your ride should have cost you.

To note, a taxi driver is not going to approach you inside the airport, they wait for you to go to the taxi line outside. It has happened to me many times that I arrive in Rome and I am greeted by “taxi” drivers trying to guide me to their “taxi”. Don’t go with them, it’s fake.

  • There are many ways to get into the centre of Rome from the airports. If a taxi is the way you choose to take, go to the taxi line outside. Don’t go with the eager driver who greets you inside the airport.
  • If you are taking a taxi from one of Rome’s two airports, it is a fixed rate. Make sure you check the rate beforehand.
  • One of Rome’s airports is in Fiumicino . When taking a taxi, make sure you are taking a taxi that is registered in Rome. This is because Fiumicino taxis can use their meter to give you a much higher price at the end of your ride. Whereas Rome taxis have a legally set fee, they charge to go from the airport to the city centre.
  • Make sure your driver turns on their meter right away. 
  • Get your luggage out of the taxi before you pay.

My best advice is always to stay aware.

What to Avoid When Visiting Rome

1. the wrong time of year to travel.

When planning your trip , it is wise to strategically choose what time of year to travel. June and July are the high peak months due to being the most convenient.

However, it is also a time when crowds are at their height, and a morning tour of the Vatican can easily turn into a full-day affair, where most of your precious time is wasted in a sluggish-paced, sweat-induced queue.

When considering particular time periods , especially the month of July, bear in mind that the temperature can be extremely hot and humid, as well as very crowdy. This will possibly make the overall experience of travelling and sightseeing an uncomfortable one, so try to avoid this period if possible.

2. Compromising Your Safety With Your Money

Like any big city, the level of safety and security is indeed an opportunity cost. One problem is the incidence of pickpocketing that exists. It is particularly prevalent in crowded metros and in popular tourist domains.

Therefore it is necessary to always keep an eye on your bag. Some people feel more at ease by wearing safely concealed money belts. In any case, it is wise not to carry a large amount of money or credit cards on you.

Many of these pickpocketers are gypsies who are illegal immigrants that reside on the outskirts of the city. They may lull you into a false sense of security by often being women and children. Thus, don’t be fooled by age or gender. A gypsy child handing you a rose may melt your heart, but once you take that rose, an adult will suddenly appear demanding payment.

There is a notorious bus link, n.64, which is infamous for being frequently targeted by pickpocketers and purse-snatchers. Avoid this bus at all costs.

Lastly, avoid Termini station late at night, as it will be occupied by undesirables, and its level of safety will be low. During the day, Termini station is filled with commuters and is relatively safe.

Many of the locals are extremely canny in dealing with a ‘novice’ of their culture.

A foreigner is often easy to detect, and the reality is your monetary contribution will often derive unwanted interest. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and be prepared to encounter and handle situations where illicit dealings may take place in the Termini area.

3. Changing Money From Unknown Money Changers On The Street

When changing money, the best idea is to shop around if possible. Many money changers, especially those in stations and airports, can charge a commission in excess of 10%. This commission is also often not evident to the public.

If in doubt of any extra charges, don’t hesitate to ask. If someone approaches you on the street offering excellent exchange rates (specifically for you), keep walking. Ethical money changers tend not to be in the habit of scouting for clientele.

4. Unofficial Tour Guides

Around monumental sites, especially Vatican City, you may be approached by unofficial tour guides. You are not obligated to pay them anything other than a tip, as they are often only scouting tourists to practice their knowledge and expertise. Regardless of their intention, ask outright if payment is involved to avoid any potential confusion.

5. Costumed Gladiators

The costumed gladiators outside the  Colosseum  are definitely a sight worth seeing. However, before you have your photograph taken with them, know that a ‘customary fee’ is part of the equation. Many tourists have found themselves in a modern-day battle to the tune of five Euros and up.

In order to avoid unleashing any pent-up medieval aggression, don’t take any pictures with the gladiators unless you’re prepared to hand over the funds.

6. Wearing Inappropriate Footwear

Walking in Rome is indeed the best way to see all the sights and follow the tourist trail. Rome is often congested with traffic, which makes the exercise of walking an easier option.

Most of what you see and do in Rome will be experienced on foot; thus, it is wise to invest in shoes that are comfortable.

Rome also has a lot of cobbled streets and uneven territory, especially around the Roman ruins, so heels and precarious footwear are not advisable.

As much as you may envision yourself strolling down the Spanish Quarter in heels that capture the elegance of Audrey Hepburn in A Roman Holiday, your feet will be cursing your narcissism.

7. Buying Water From Street Carts or Restaurants

It is always a good idea to take a water bottle along with you, as you will need to replenish it to avoid possible dehydration. Purchasing water from snack carts and restaurants can prove to be a costly exercise.

A good option is to purchase water from a supermarket. If you carry an empty bottle on you, though, there are plenty of places in Rome where you can always fill up. Like at the many drinking fountains around Rome, usually found in the squares.

Generally speaking, public watering places are very safe in Rome. If you are unsure, look out for the term Non-Potabile , which means non-drinkable water.

One Thing You Won’t Be Able To Avoid…Falling in Love With Rome

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and seeing and experiencing all its enticements and offerings is no minor feat. Thus if you find yourself falling in love with the city, make sure you throw a coin in the  Trevi Fountain … this will ensure that you will return again.

10 scams in Rome and how to avoid them

Backpackers walk through Rome in Italy

I love Rome . I could walk the streets every day for the next 20 years and still find new hidden grottos, fountains, chapels. Every gelataria I go to is my new favourite.

But Italy’s capital, like pretty much every major city in the world, has a strong side hustle when it comes to tourists. Some of the scammers are after easy money from people they think are easy targets, while others are genuinely struggling and are just trying to feed their families.

While it’s nothing to be worried about, it is something to be aware of while you’re exploring. Here are some of the most common scams going on in Rome.

The Colosseum in Rome

Photo by Cliff Bielawski

1. The glamorous man

You’ve got to hand it to Rome: nowhere else in the world are the scammers so well dressed. This scam involves a glamorous man (or woman) who pulls up next to you in his car. He’s lost, he’s late and he desperately needs directions. It’s amazing that he asks you for directions to probably the one place you know in the city. He’s so grateful that he offers you a designer coat – he works for Versace or Gucci, don’t you know?! All he needs now is just a bit of cash to fill up on petrol. He’s being driving around and he’s almost run out. He seems so nice, he’s given you a free coat AND he works for Gucci, so of course, you fork out a few euro.

There are other variations of this where the glamorous scammer is on foot and offers you a heavily discounted designer jacket in thanks for your directions.

What to do: Sorry to burst your bubble but he’s not handing you a real designer jacket and you won’t really be getting a bargain. If an impossibly well-dressed local is asking for directions, best to just shrug your shoulders and walk away.

DON’T LET THE GLAMOROUS MAN PUT YOU OFF! EXPLORE ITALY NOW

Forget about Oliver Twist and Fagan, real pickpockets are impossible to spot. They generally look like nice, ordinary Romans going about their nice, ordinary Roman lives. Bus 64 is a prime pickpocket route. It goes to many of the city’s most visited sites and is often full of distracted tourists.

What to do: You don’t need to avoid the bus, you just need to be aware of what’s going on around you. The only ‘tell’ the pickpockets may have is a jacket draped over their arm to disguise their wandering hands. Keep your valuables zipped up and where you can see them.

The Pantheon, Rome

3. Romeo rats

This one is for the ladies. There’s a certain group of Roman men nicknamed pappagallo  which means ‘parrot’. That’s because they can be found most days in the same tourist spots feeding the same lines to ladies who look like they’re by themselves or in pairs. They start simply by asking the time and then ask you a few casual questions to establish whether you’re Italian, living in Rome or just passing through. These guys are incredibly disarming. They are smooth as gelato alla crema and before you know it you’ve agreed to meet up with them for dinner. You may have a fabulous time with your pappagallo ; they are outrageous flirts and will make you feel like the only woman in the world. The reality is you will never ever hear from them again and they’ll be back at the same tourist spot the next day looking for a new love to woo to bed.

What to do: Give them the time, but don’t give them the time. Wink.

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Piazza di Santa Maria in Rome

4. Roses, bracelets and beautiful things

This one is common throughout Europe and has plenty of variations. Basically, someone, often a kid, will hand a woman rose and then turn to the man she’s with and ask for money. The man then looks bad if he refuses to pay and it’s almost impossible for the woman to hand the rose back. The reason it works so well is that the kids usually only ask for a small amount of money. The guy thinks it’s not worth the fight so they pay up.

Another version involves friendship bracelets or rings. These are offered to the woman for free and tied on her wrist in a way that’s impossible to get off. While that’s happening someone comes up and ties one on to the guy, presumably for ‘free’. He doesn’t argue. Once it’s on, the new ‘friend’ asks the guy for money for the second one.

What to do: Don’t accept things from strangers. It will never be for free.

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5. No menus in the house

Diners at an outdoor restaurant in Rome

When you’ve been walking around all day, all you want is a big fat bowl of pasta and a carafe of the house wine. When you finally find a restaurant, choose a spot and sit down, you might be surprised to hear they’ve run out of menus. That’s ok, you know a few Italian words, so you order something simple. The rub comes when you pay the bill and find it is about twice what you expected. You can’t argue, because you ordered it. So you have to cough up.

What to do: If there are no menus in the house ask to see the prices ( posso vedere i prezzi ), or get up and find another restaurant. Also, just as a side note, if you see a little asterix next to a menu item it may indicate that it’s a frozen packaged meal. Have a look for fine print at the back of the menu.

RELATED: 6 COMMON SCAMS IN VIETNAM (& HOW TO AVOID THEM)

6. Check your coins

It’s been a while since the Lira was out and the Euro was in, but that hasn’t stopped some vendors doing a little switcheroo. The 500 lira coin is remarkably similar to the 2 euro coin.

What to do: Always count your change to make sure you haven’t been short or wrong-changed.

7. Fake police

In Rome, shops are meant to hand out receipts as a record of tax collection. There are actual real police to check this, but unfortunately, they’re often plain clothed and some scammers take advantage of this. When you leave a shop they’ll ask to see your receipt. They’ll then tell you there’s a problem with it and give you an on the spot fine.

What to do: Don’t get worried if someone in plainclothes approaches you. Just ask for their badge or identification. You can tell them you want to call the police hotline to verify their identity (call 113 or 112). Finally, if they insist, say that you’ll only pay it at a police station.

Travellers drinking in Rome

There are some other scams that are worth a special mention:

8. The stranger who offers you free tickets to a club – where you’ll be charged €1,000 for your drinks

9. Illegal taxis who charge for ‘extras’. Make sure you get a cab from an official stand; don’t hail one on the street.

10. The stranger who shoves grain in your hand, whistles and calls the pigeons onto you. They take a photo and then ask for money. Just walk away.

With the good (and there is so so so much good), comes a certain amount of dodgy, but don’t let that put you off. Rome is an incredible city with many amazing things to see.

Explore the city (and avoid the scams) on a small group adventure in Italy now!

Feeling inspired?

rome tourist scams

Jennifer Chandler

There were only two things I ever wanted to do – travel and write. Luckily they go quite well together. When I’m not writing (or travelling) I’m busy teaching my two boys how to do both. They’ve made a cracking start and if I play my cards right one day they’ll be buying my plane tickets not the other way around.

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From Home to Rome

Stay Safe in Rome: Unmasking the Top Tourist Scams

C. P.

  • April 8, 2024
  • Landmarks , Rome 101 , The city center

The most common scams in Rome revealed - know the tactics and plan a safe holiday!

Rome is a captivating city that attracts an increasing number of tourists, but unfortunately, it is not the only category of people who converge to the Eternal City. The large numbers of visitors are interesting to scammers or petty thieves are also looking to make a quick buck at the expense of those roaming the city center or those parts of Rome that are fascinating to travelers from all over the world. Scams that target them are a fact of life, but they don’t have to derail your plans for a great vacation in Italy. With this article, you’ll be prepared to avoid them!

Let’s begin with… our best tips to avoid being scammed or pickpocketed

Traveling to a foreign country can be overwhelming and a source of stress: you don’t know the culture, you don’t (usually) know the language, and of course the streets around you will be unfamiliar.

Scammers count on this, so you’ll notice a pattern in the scams we describe below: appearing friendly or friendlier (for example, compared to the hospitality workers you may have encountered, who will not be as outgoing as those you meet in your home country), or trying to appeal to a sense of solidarity, or humanity.

While the strategy for avoiding these scams is deceptively simple, putting it into practice isn’t as easy as it looks: no one knows you in a foreign country. A simple truth, right? So don’t engage with, don’t turn around, don’t pay attention to those calling after you or trying to get your attention. Those are just tactics to get to slow you down so the scammer can do their thing.

More pointers: stay vigilant . Obviously not to the point where you don’t enjoy your holiday, but be careful when people enter your personal space, for example a fellow passenger on a subway, or a street seller approaching you.

Also: trust your instincts.  If something feels off, walk away.

And now, on to the actual scams…

The “Where Are You From?” Scam

Street vendors often initiate conversations with unsuspecting tourists by asking seemingly innocuous questions such as “Where are you from?” or “Are you from Africa?”.  They may also compliment your shoes or accessories in an attempt to strike up a friendly conversation. The “making you feel comfortable” is part of the routine to make you feel comfortable or to get you to let your guard down. The more ridiculous the question, the more you should ignore the sellers, who are there to sell counterfeit goods at inflated prices. In the “friendship bracelet” variant, they’ll pressure you to give them money for an ailing family member, or a young child, and so on and so forth.

How to protect yourself:

Avoid engaging : Politely decline to answer personal questions and keep walking. We know, it’s hard: our collective instinct is always to say hello back, or even just shake our heads. This is as wrong as stopping for actual conversation and should be avoided at all costs!

The Fake Petition Scam

In this scam, someone approaches you on the street or in a public place, asking for your signature on a petition. These petitions often appear to support a charity. However, once you’ve signed, the person requests a donation for their supposed cause.

Do your research : No reputable organization would ask a foreign citizen for a donation (but some very reputable charities in Italy sell houseplants or food on select days like Mother’s Day, so do your research and Google the name of the organization first). In addition, no charity would ask for cash, but would try to have a recurring payment deposited into their bank account each month.

The Gold Ring Scam (and its variations)

Beware of strangers who “find” a gold ring on the ground near you. They’ll claim it’s valuable and offer to sell it to you at a discounted price. In reality, the ring is worthless, and you’ll end up paying far more than it’s worth. How to avoid this:

Politely decline  or, better yet,  keep walking : remember that valuable items don’t magically appear on the street, especially not in Rome!

Variations of this scam include claiming that you dropped your house/car keys (this is a ruse to distract you that happens in parking lots: an accomplice will steal purses or luggage from your rented car while you check the keys that the scammer is showing you), or a jacket, or anything else, really, that a tourist would be likely to lose on a crowded street.

The out of gas scam

This is more likely to happen to Italians, but we’re told it’s starting to happen to foreigners as well. In the classic version of this scam, a well-dressed man, often claiming to be a salesman, doctor, lawyer, or other highly respected profession, will ask for your help because he has run out of gas and his card or phone application has been declined.

Just say no: They obviously don’t have a vehicle (also: in the center of Rome it’s especially unlikely that there’s a gas station nearby, as they’ve been moved away from the main attractions for security reasons). Say you don’t have any cash on you (our go-to method is “oh, sorry, I just paid cash for my taxi ride here and I’m out of money”) or say you don’t speak English/Italian/whatever language the scammer is using. Walking away always works.

The stain scam

Also on the rise, this is more of a petty theft attempt than a real scam. A stranger will draw your attention to the fact that you have a stain on your jacket, or out of nowhere they will appear to have poured a liquid or the contents of a can on you – this is to get you to remove the garment to examine it (in one variation they will offer to clean it). If they are allowed to touch it (either “accidentally” or to “help” you), they will find your valuables (wallet, phone…) and walk away with them.

Don’t engage: As we mentioned at the top of this post, you don’t know anyone in Rome. So why would you slow down for a complete stranger? If your jacket or shirt is actually stained, let a dry cleaner deal with it. Either way, keep walking!

The “can I take a picture with you?” scam (and the Centurion variation)

Finally, this is kind of a weird one. The people who have told us about it have certainly not been asked for money, nor do they seem to have been pickpocketed. Several people were approached by other “tourist-looking” strangers, often speaking in Spanish, who asked to take a selfie because of their resemblance to a famous athlete or actor/singer. It is probably an attempt at pickpocketing that has gone wrong.

The most famous variation of this is the Centurion scam, where fake re-enactors offer to take a selfie with you, only to demand an exaggerated amount of money to give you back your phone. Needless to say, these are not re-enactors, nor are they employed by the City of Rome.

Again, walking away works best. To be fair, people dressed as ancient Romans are easy for the police to spot, and we haven’t heard of this particular variation in years. Also, the rules for the Colosseum prohibit visitors from dressing up like ancient Roman soldiers and this is precisely to prevent this type of scam.

  • Ancient Rome
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Rome Scams (Tips on How to Avoid Scams In Rome In 2024)

Rome scams guide

  • In Tips for travellers Travel guide

Visiting Rome soon? While the Eternal City offers many tourist experiences, knowing about the various Rome scams is essential.

This guide will help you navigate potential pitfalls so you can focus on enjoying your trip.

  • 1 #1 Rule about Rome Scams
  • 2 Access a Free Guide of Rome on Your Mobile Today
  • 3 Are Scams In Rome A Real Thing?
  • 4 Disclaimer about Scams in Rome
  • 5 How Do Scammers In Rome Work?
  • 6 Places in Rome Where You Should Be Extremely Cautious About Scams
  • 7 Most Common Scams In Rome
  • 8 How to Avoid Rome Scams? Out Top Tips to Stay Safe
  • 9 What To Do If You Become A Victim Of Scams In Rome?
  • 10 The Importance Of Having Travel Insurance
  • 11 FAQs about Scams In Rome

#1 Rule about Rome Scams

Vatican visit

The first rule about Rome scams is simple: remember to enjoy your time in this beautiful city.

While it's crucial to stay vigilant, there's no need to be overly paranoid (not everyone is after your coin).

rome tourist scams

Access a Free Guide of Rome on Your Mobile Today

Are scams in rome a real thing.

Yes, scams in Rome do exist, particularly targeting tourists. It's a reality in any major city with much tourist traffic, and Rome is no exception.

While girls scamming in Rome ATMs or street vendors selling counterfeit items might be more frequent, it's crucial to remain alert but not alarmed.

In addition, you'll also find more intricate scams such as fake tour guides selling unauthorized tours, bracelets or rose “gifts” that come with a hidden cost, and even fake petitions that are just a setup for a pickpocketing attempt.

Disclaimer about Scams in Rome

Before delving deeper, it's important to note that this guide relies on real incidents and reports. The intention is not to isolate or spotlight specific groups. We will discuss various types of scams, including those involving individuals posing as petition takers or beggars. Please read with an open mind.

How Do Scammers In Rome Work?

Tourist places Rome Scams

For as long as there has been money, there have been scammers. It's important to note that scams are not unique to Rome; they also exist in other cities and tourist destinations.

Scammers have a penchant for executing street scams in Rome’s crowded tourist hotspots and transportation hubs like Termini Station and various stops along the metro lines.

Places in Rome Where You Should Be Extremely Cautious About Scams

Navigating Rome's rich tapestry of history and culture should be an enlightening experience.

Still, it's crucial to remain alert in certain areas to avoid becoming a scam victim. High-traffic zones, like the metro stations with special emphasis on Termini station, are fertile grounds for various types of deception.

Termini is not just a hub for Rome metro scams but also a magnet for unofficial tour guides and organized pickpocketing rings.

Rome Airport Scams

Airport scams in Rome

Upon your arrival at Rome's airport (right from the doorstep), it's crucial to steer clear of rogue taxis not stationed at official taxi stands.

These unregulated vehicles often take advantage of tourists by charging exorbitant fares, way more than what is usually required by authorized taxis.

Rome Colosseum Scam

Rome Scams around Colosseum

Tourist-attracting monuments like the Colosseum are hotbeds for scam artists peddling counterfeit tickets and posing as accredited tour guides.

Rome Restaurant Scams

In bustling tourist areas, some restaurants may present you with a “tourist menu” featuring inflated prices. Always examine the menu meticulously to ensure you're not paying a premium simply because you're a visitor.

Rome Termini Scams

Termini station Rome Scams

Termini Station is infamous for its high frequency of scams, from rigged ticket vending machines to skillful pickpocketing.

Keep your valuables securely stashed and have heightened awareness when interacting with strangers here.

Most Common Scams In Rome

While Rome is a city teeming with history and beauty, it also has its share of scams targeting tourists.

Below are some of the most common scams you might encounter so you can be better prepared.

Roses and Bracelets as a Gift

While roaming the city streets, you might be offered friendship bracelets or roses “as a gift.”

However, remember that nothing is free. Once you accept, the vendors will demand payment, making the situation awkward. This is often referred to as the bracelet scam in Rome.

Outside the Colosseum, you'll find individuals dressed as Gladiators encouraging you to take photos with them.

However, after the snapshot, they'll demand money and may become hostile if you refuse to pay . While there's humor in challenging them to a duel, it's best to be cautious.

The Fashion or Jewelry Scam

Tourists are sometimes approached by people offering designer clothes or jewelry at steep discounts.

These items are usually counterfeit, and the scammer disappears once money changes hands. Use common sense and remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Fake Tickets and Unauthorized Tour Guides

Around popular attractions like the Roman Forum or the Colosseum , beware of individuals selling fake tickets or posing as tour guides.

Always purchase tickets from authorized vendors and double-check the credentials of tour guides to avoid falling victim to scams.

Fake Lovers

Exercise caution if a stunning man or woman suddenly seems obsessed with you.

Such scenarios can sometimes lead to pickpocketing or worse, especially if it seems too good to be true . While the Eternal City is romantic, it’s also a place where caution should prevail in such situations.

taxi scams in Rome

Taxi scams in Rome can be a nuisance. Unlicensed taxis may take a longer route or overcharge.

Restaurant Scams

While dining in Rome, be wary if a restaurant doesn't have a menu . You may end up paying more than expected when the bill arrives.

So, if you're wondering, “Will restaurants in Rome try to scam you?” it's possible, but Rome restaurant scams are avoidable with due diligence.

Airport scams are common in Rome but can still catch travelers off guard. Overcharging taxis is a frequent problem.

A service like the Online Travel Card can help bypass these Rome airport taxi scams by offering set fares and transparent pricing.

Too Friendly Locals

While Romans generally welcome people, be cautious if a local seems too friendly or insistent on showing you around. This could be a distraction technique for someone else to pickpocket you or lead you to a tourist trap.

Fake Hotel Calls

Be cautious of calls to your hotel room from individuals claiming to be hotel staff asking for credit card details or other personal information.

Always verify such requests directly with the hotel reception to avoid falling victim to scams.

Pickpocketing

Pickpocket scams Rome to avoid

Pickpocketing is one of the most common scams in Rome , particularly in crowded areas or tourist hotspots.

Always keep your personal belongings close and be vigilant. For more tips on how to protect yourself, visit our guide on pickpocket in Rome.

Bus 64 is notorious for pickpocket scams, particularly since it passes many tourist spots. Keep your belongings close and avoid back pockets, especially on crowded buses.

Always check your change carefully. There are instances of tourists receiving counterfeit coins. Take a moment to ensure that the coins you receive look and feel legitimate.

Roman Kids Begging

Child beggars are, unfortunately, a common sight in Rome.

While it's natural to want to help, these children are sometimes part of larger schemes that involve adult handlers. Be cautious and steer clear.

“Are You …” Scam

If a stranger approaches asking, “Are you African?”, “Are you French?” or suggest another nationality, be cautious.

This is often a prelude to a scam where they may give you a “gift” and then demand payment. This is known as the “Are you African Rome scam,” and similar tactics can be used with different nationalities.

Fake Police

Like every other city, Rome is especially crawling with fake law enforcement.

You might be approached by individuals dressed in plain, or in some cases, police uniform , conveying a sense of urgency for you to pay for committing a crime of some nature.

Fake Petitions

Do you speak English?

That will probably be how they get their foot in the door.

The petition scam was common in Paris but quickly spread to many other major tourist attractions, including Rome.

In this scam, you will be asked to sign a petition followed by a request for a monetary donation to a non-existent charity.

Random Gifts

“You seem like a cool guy. Are you visiting Rome for the first time?”

Before you know it, you’re engrossed in a conversation with a pretty stranger who eventually offers you a gift.

However, nothing comes free. Once you have the gift in hand, they will ask you to pay some outrageous amounts of money.

People Randomly Asking for Money, Food, or Gas

“My car got stuck some way down the road, and I can’t find my wallet. Could you lend me a few euros to cover gas money?”

While they may not always sound like this, you should be wary of handing money to random people . It would be best to use your judgment.

How to Avoid Rome Scams? Out Top Tips to Stay Safe

Common street scams in Rome

While there might not be a blueprint to avoiding the ever-evolving criminal mind of the Rome scammer , below are a few tips you can keep in mind to ensure your money stays in your pockets:

  • Free items : In Rome, free seldom means free. You should keep your eyes peeled and your head on a swivel to avoid accepting gifts leading to extortion.
  • Kids : The little ones might need to have situational awareness. Keep them away from strangers offering items or being unusually nice.
  • Trust your instincts : Often, our subconscious can pick out suspicious people and behavior in the people around us. Stick to your gut feeling.
  • Being too nice : You might be a kind-hearted person, but the world doesn’t always reciprocate the energy you give. To be safe, save the niceties for the people you trust.
  • Maintain your distance : When dealing with a stranger or suspicious individual, keep your distance to avoid being sucked into a brawl or forcefully receiving an item.

What To Do If You Become A Victim Of Scams In Rome?

If you fall victim to a scam, report the incident to local authorities immediately. Head to the nearest police station and file a report. Contacting your embassy is another crucial step.

Additionally, the unfortunate experience underscores the importance of having travel insurance that covers theft or fraud.

The Importance Of Having Travel Insurance

Common scams In Rome

While travel insurance is often associated with medical emergencies, its scope of coverage extends far beyond just healthcare needs.

Many travel insurance packages offer 24/7 assistance services that can guide you through the appropriate steps to take if you've been scammed.

Investing in comprehensive travel insurance is not just a precaution; it's a practical measure for savvy travelers.

For a deep dive into what to look for in a travel insurance package suited for Italy, read our in-depth guide here.

FAQs about Scams In Rome

faq roma pass travel blog

How safe is Rome for tourists?

Rome is generally safe for tourists, but like any major city, it has its share of scams and petty crimes. Always stay vigilant.

Is it safe to travel solo with all these scams in Rome?

Yes, traveling solo is safe, but being alone might make you a more attractive target for scammers. Stay cautious.

How can I recognize potential scam situations in Rome?

Being overly approached or offered 'free' items are usually red flags. Trust your instincts.

Are there specific areas of Rome known for higher scam activity?

Tourist-heavy areas like the Colosseum and Vatican are known hotspots for various scams.

What are some online and digital scams that tourists might encounter in Rome?

Be cautious of fake ticket websites, especially for high-profile tourist attractions and events.

What are some red flags to watch out for when using ATMs in Rome to avoid potential scams?

Look out for skimming devices, hidden cameras, and ATMs that seem tampered with or located in isolated areas.

What legal authorities should I contact if I've been a scam victim during my visit to Rome?

Contact the local police, and if the situation is grave, also contact your embassy.

Navigating the Eternal City should be an enjoyable trip, not a series of pitfalls.

Being aware of Rome scams will empower you to explore this beautiful city more confidently.

If you'd like a truly authentic and hassle-free experience, consider booking a legitimate guided tour from sites like Tiqets.com or GetYourGuide.com

Stay alert and scam-smart in Rome.

Fanny

Fanny is a music and travel lover who has been visiting Rome since 2012. She is the founder and main editor of the Roma Pass blog and she like to share the best things to do in Rome.

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rome tourist scams

Scams to Avoid on Your Trip to Rome

Sean Finelli Last Updated: November 16, 2022

The Eternal City is home to some of the world’s most fascinating sites. There’s so much to see, and once you arrive you’ll be excited to see it all. In your excitement you may be inclined to accept some of the tourist traps disguised as deals that are pitched your way. However, in order to avoid wasting your money and time on scams it’s important to be selective and careful with the decisions that you make as well as how you conduct yourself while out and about on the streets of Rome. 

Like many other large cities around the world, Rome is well known for being a tourist hub, which has also designated it as an easy access point for scammers to target unknowing victims. This guide will definitely help you prepare for a safe and enjoyable trip by learning how to recognize and avoid some of the most common schemes. 

Pickpocketing 

We all know that it happens, pickpocketing is, unfortunately, one of the most common outcomes of tourist targeting especially in large cities like Rome. It’s most likely to occur while traveling via public transportation as well as at large transportation and public centers. Bus 64 is recognized as a popular tourist route as it stops along with several major points of interest.

rome tourist scams

This doesn’t mean that you should avoid utilizing public modes of travel or that you should stay away from public spaces – they’re still integral to an enjoyable Roman experience. Instead remain mindful of this, knowledge is power and now that you’re aware of this in a relevant context, it can be used to ensure a positive experience. 

When exploring the city make sure that you keep your personal belongings close to your body, and that all zippers or points of entry are closed and covered. In addition to this, try to minimize the size and amount of valuables that you carry with you. You should limit this to the essentials such as your phone and source of money that you’ll need for the day’s activities. There’s no need to worry; as long as you remember these simple tips you’re bound to have an incredible time reveling in the wonder of the Eternal City. 

“Crowds make a pickpocket feel like a pig in a blanket. No worries, but beware of those who are pushing or too close to you or anyone in your party.” – Franco A, Rome Guide 

Let’s say you’ve been spending all day visiting the highlights of Rome, and all you want to do is sit down for a nice, not-to-expensive meal with your friends. You find a nice, authentic-looking family restaurant and get a table. Your waiter comes by and pours you some water, but when you ask to see a menu he tells you that this restaurant doesn’t have one. You chalk up to it just being some kind of local thing, and just order some pasta for the table, and two glasses of the house white. 

rome tourist scams

When you get your bill, however, what you thought was a cheap meal of pasta and wine has transformed into a 90 euro dinner. Because they never showed you a menu, and you never asked for a price, the restaurant staff has taken advantage of your limited knowledge of custom to hike up the price. And at that point, you won’t have much choice but to swallow your pride and pay the bill, unless you’re raring for an argument in a language you barely understand. 

The trick to avoid this is simple: Always ask for a price for anything you order. Don’t assume that just because you order something simple that it will be cheap. If they refuse to show you a menu, or tell you the prices, you’re much better off finding another spot that will. 

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rome tourist scams

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rome tourist scams

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Fake Petitions 

If you encounter an individual or a group of people (often wearing matching shirts) approaching you with pamphlets and clipboards, this is a red flag. This common scheme is often initiated as they grab your attention by explaining their involvement with an obscure charity which is often followed by asking for very large donations. As the people leading the scam tend to be persistent and charismatic, it can be hard to decline their efforts but don’t be hesitant to. 

Many of these “charity workers” collaborate with pick-pocketers in the hopes of distracting you with their persistent attempts to recruit your support for the fabricated charity. You will avoid a lot of unnecessary frustration and potential theft by firmly expressing your disinterest and continuing along the path to your destination if you encounter these people. 

There’s no doubt that you will want to shop and purchase souvenirs when you’re abroad, exploring a new city even if it’s not your first time. Souvenirs are a great way to commemorate and share the experience, as this is well known, tourist shops can be found all around big cities and their major attractions. In addition to this, there are also a lot of individual sellers offering a selection of products. While many of them are friendly and respectful, some are not.

They target tourists by briefly talking to them and proceeding to tell them that they’d like to give them a gift. The “gift” tends to include jewelry and roses. Once the person has it in hand they demand a price for what would’ve been assumed as a gift, free of cost. While out in public areas, remain aware of these people and avoid them if unnecessary. If you are approached, simply decline in a polite, yet firm manner before they get the chance to attempt selling you their products, disguised as gifts. 

“It’s hard to find anywhere in Rome where there are no pickpockets around” – Franco A, Rome Guide

Rome is an undeniably beautiful city, containing some of the world’s most captivating attractions and sites. Around nine million tourists select the city as a destination each year and rightfully so – there’s so much to see and learn! Before you get caught up in the excitement it’s important to think about preparation, and that includes being aware of some of the scams that tourists can become targets for. Now that you’re prepared with this knowledge, the Eternal City awaits!

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Scams to avoid when visiting Rome

rome tourist scams

While Rome is a beautiful – and overall a very safe city – it is important to be aware of potential scams that can occur. This is particularly true as we approach ‘high season’ when many visitors flock to the city and scammers take advantage of the crowds. The best way to avoid being scammed is to be aware of the common tricks and ripoffs so you can know when to walk away. Here are the most common scams to avoid in Rome:

pantheon rose petals falling

  • Fake Tickets and Unauthorized Tour Guides : When visiting popular attractions such as the Colosseum or the Vatican, be aware so-called ‘gathers’ who will invite you to join a tour when tickets are sold out. In all likelihood, you will be joining a real tour, but you are probably going to overpay by quite a lot and be in a group of 40-50 people being ushered through the venue. You also do not want to buy physical tickets from them as they may be fakes. Planning your stops at major landmarks is the best way to avoid overpriced tickets. Stick to authorized ticket vendors or purchase them in advance from official websites. Additionally, be wary of unauthorized individuals offering guided tours or claiming to be official guides. Always verify the credentials of a guide before hiring their services – guides always wear an ID around their neck with the Lazio region’s logo. If you wait too long and tickets sell out, use a reliable re-seller like Tiqets or GetYourGuide which will deliver tickets digitally to your phone almost instantly.
  • Taxi scams : There are certainly more honest taxi drivers than not in Rome. However, some taxi drivers try to rip off tourists by offering to drive them to another landmark for a set fee. A taxi should always use the meter – except for trips to and from the airport, which are a set price . I also had one taxi driver swap out my 20 for a 10 and insist I still owed him money, so consider paying by card whenever possible.

I have never been pickpocketed in Rome (touch wood), but I did experience someone attempting to snatch my bag out of my hand when I was walking alone at dusk near the river. I held on to it and screamed THIEF! and he took off, but I still prefer crossbody bags to this day. 

rome tourist scams

  • Restaurant Scams : Some restaurants in tourist areas may try to take advantage of unsuspecting visitors by overcharging or adding hidden fees to the bill. Before entering a restaurant, check reviews, prices, and menus to ensure transparency. Here is how to avoid tourist trap restaurants in Italy – but keep in mind that a “coperto” or cover charge is pretty standard these days. But tipping is up to you.

rome tourist scams

Remember to trust your instincts and be cautious when dealing with unfamiliar situations. Romans are really great overall, and hopefully this bit of research will help you better identify what is normal and what is suspect so you can steer clear of scammers in Rome. 

rome tourist scams

Natalie is a food and travel writer who has been living in Rome full time since 2010. She is the founder and editor of this blog and prefers all of her days to include coffee, gelato, and wine.

4 thoughts on “ Scams to avoid when visiting Rome ”

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What a SUPER GREAT Article. Just to add and a bit of laughter…… That SUPER Strange GREEN Colored Pistachio GELATO… More Scam than Scam doesn’t exist.

Great GREAT REPORT. It’s the BEST. A BIG big Scam is that Strange GREEN Colored Pistachio GELATO. Tourists think that the Greenest is the BEST.

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About 6 or 7 years ago, I flew into the airport in Rome in the spring. I found the window to buy a ticket to the train into the city. I was told by the ticket agent it was eight euro, so I handed him a twenty euro bill. He shoved two one euro coins at me and told me to hurry because the train was leaving soon. I walked about three steps and realized that he did not give me a ten euro note in change, so I walked back to the window. He gave me the ten euro note with no problem. The man who had been in front of me in line was also walking to the window to get his change. This ticket agent’s scam, telling people that the train is going to leave, must net him a nice second income. He almost made twenty euro from just the two of us. Always be on the alert and don’t let people make you unsure of yourself.

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This reminds me of a couple other airport scams – sim cards and unlicensed taxis! Glad you got your change.

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Rome on Foot

What are some common tourist scams in Italy and how can I avoid them

Italy, with its rich history, stunning landscapes, and mouth-watering cuisine, attracts millions of visitors every year. However, like many popular destinations, it has its share of tourist traps and scams. Being aware of these can make the difference between a trip filled with beautiful memories and an experience marred by frustration. In this guide, we’ll take you through some of the most common scams you might encounter in Italy and how you can smartly avoid them. Plus, for those planning to explore on foot, here’s an essential read on how to steer clear of pickpockets , ensuring that your adventure remains safe and enjoyable.

The Friendship Bracelet Scam

One moment you’re admiring the scenery, and the next, someone has wrapped a bracelet around your wrist, demanding payment for it. This is a classic move often played on tourists in busy areas. The scammer – usually very friendly at first – ties a bracelet to your wrist as a “gift” or to show a demonstration. As soon as it’s on, they demand money, sometimes aggressively.

Avoiding this is pretty straightforward – do not stop for people who approach you with trinkets or strings in touristy spots. Keep your hands close to you, and if someone tries to give you something, firmly but politely decline. Remember, it’s okay to walk away.

The Ring Scam

While wandering through the beautiful streets of Italy, you may find someone picking up a ring off the ground, claiming you dropped it. When you say it isn’t yours, they insist on offering it to you as a gift. Shortly after, they demand money for it, claiming its high value or saying they need money desperately.

The trick to avoiding this scam is skepticism. If a situation feels off, it probably is. Do not accept anything from strangers on the street, especially if they are trying to give you something valuable for no apparent reason. Politely decline and continue your journey.

Overpriced Taxis

Taking a taxi can sometimes be a hassle, especially in a new city. In Italy, some taxi drivers might try to take advantage of tourists by charging excessive fares, taking longer routes, or claiming the meter is broken.

Before getting into any taxi, ensure it’s an official taxi. Look for a meter, and if it’s not visible or you’re informed it’s broken, choose another cab. It’s also wise to familiarize yourself with the average rates from major transport hubs to your accommodation. Nowadays, many smartphone apps can give you an estimated fare, so you have a benchmark.

Restaurant Scams

Nothing ruins the experience of Italian cuisine faster than finding you’ve been grossly overcharged for a meal. This happens when restaurants serve tourists dishes or extras they never ordered, charging exorbitant prices for them. 

Always check the menu prices before sitting down and politely refuse additional items you didn’t ask for. If something is brought to your table without your request, confirm if it’s complimentary or not. And always inspect the bill closely before paying. If in doubt, asking a local about typical prices can give you a good idea of what to expect.

The Crowded Places Pickpocketing

Crowded tourist spots and public transport are pickpockets’ playgrounds. They blend into the crowd, looking for easy targets — often those distracted by sights or their gadgets.

Wearing a money belt or a neck wallet under your clothes can keep your valuables safe. Be mindful of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas. Zipped bags carried in front of you are harder for pickpockets to access. And as previously mentioned, educating yourself on the nuances of avoiding pickpockets is invaluable.

The Fake Police Scam 

This scam involves individuals posing as police officers, demanding to see your wallet for inspection to look for counterfeit bills. Once your wallet is handed over, they take the opportunity to relieve you of your cash.

Genuine officers won’t ask to inspect your wallet on the street. If you’re faced with such a request, politely decline and suggest going to the nearest police station for the inspection. Always ask to see identification and, if in doubt, call the local police station for verification.

Avoiding Scams Like a Savvy Traveler

Visiting Italy should be an unforgettable experience filled with moments that enrich your life. By staying alert and informed, you can easily sidestep the distractions that scams create. Always approach overly friendly strangers with caution, keep tight control over your personal belongings, and use common sense when dealing with money and transactions.

Remember, the majority of locals are proud to share their heritage with you and would happily point you in the right direction. Engaging with Italy through the eyes of those who call it home not only enriches your travel experience but also shields you from the pitfalls that target less savvy tourists. Stay informed, stay skeptical, and above all, stay open to the incredible experiences Italy has to offer. Buon viaggio!

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Wiki For Travel

How to avoid tourist scams in Rome , Italy in 2022

How to avoid these 6 tourist scams in rome , italy.

Tourist scams are the only negative side of travelling (along with the expenses). It´s unfortunate that these amazing destinations we visit have a small minority who thrive to take advantage of innocent tourists that come to provide income for their local economy. Rome , Italy is no different and has it´s typical scams as well. Here is how to avoid tourist scams in Rome , Italy in 2022. While this article will highlight the main tourist scams that tend to occur in Rome , I highly suggest you watch a documentary on Netflix about tourist scams called “Scam City” .

Picture Scam

One popular scam in Rome , Italy is when a local asks you to take their picture. They hand you their camera and ask that you take their picture. Upon returning the camera, they purposely drop it and blame you for breaking their camera, demanding you pay them. Kindly refuse to take anyone´s picture (or unless you are 100% sure they are not locals).

Taxis Overcharging

When Uber and its alternatives are not available in a destination, we must use taxis. Rome , Italy is no different. Whenever you hop into a taxi in Rome , make sure to ask them to turn on the meter. It´s also recommended to map out your journey prior to entering the taxi, so you have an idea as to how long the trip should take. This way, you can ask your taxi drive prior to entering approximately how long the trip will take and cross reference it with what Google Maps or Waze shows you on your phone.

Friendly ATM Helper

Someone approaches you at an ATM cash machine in Rome to help you avoid local bank fees. Their true intention is to scan your debit or credit card with the card skimmer in their pocket and watch you enter your pin number so they can drain your account later. Another version of this popular scam is when your card has trouble at an ATM machine and they approach and want to help you sort it out. Make sure to always cover the number pad with your other hand while entering your pin code. While it´s best to refuse any help when at an ATM machine, it´s even better if you can travel with credit cards that have no foreign currency fees and cash that can be exchanged in a local bank in Rome , Italy.

“Friendly” Bar Friends

If hooking up is part of your plans while visiting Rome , Italy, beware of the following scam. Two friendly girls (or guys) will make small talk and lead you to believe that there is mutual interest. They will then suggest to go for a drink and will invite you to join them to a bar nearby (which they are partners with). After a couple shots you will end up paying 5-10 times more. They will offer to chip in a small amount but if you don´t pay up, you will be escorted by the bar bodyguards to an ATM to withdraw enough cash to pay the bill. In order to avoid falling to this tourist scam in Rome , there are a few things you can do. First, you can suggest the bar. Second, make sure to ask for the bar menu once you arrive so you can see the prices.

Bird Poop Scam

While walking in the streets of Rome , someone throws a bit of white paste on your shoulder, so your natural intention is to look up thinking it was bird poop. Suddenly, a “friendly” local offers to help clean up, all this while cussing at the birds for creating such a mess. While they help clean you, they also pick pocket you. Unless an emergency, kindly refuse any “help” from locals who rush over to assist you. Keep all your possessions hidden away, ideally money/cards in an internal pocket

Guessing Game Scam

While walking the streets of Rome , Italy, you see a man with three boxes and he has a group of people around him trying to guess in which box the ball is placed. One of the people in the group guesses the correct answer, and the man hands him a money as a prize. They do this again with another member of the group, with the same reaction. The commotion attracts more and more people to come and see this generous street performer. Then, an innocent bystander from the crowd is asked to guess. While concentrated in focusing on where the ball is, the members in the group quickly pick pocket them for any valuables.

It´s best to stay away from public commotion and keep all valuables hidden from the public.

We know you will enjoy your trip to Rome , Italy, but just make sure to be aware of these common tourist scams that can dent your amazing experience.

If you already booked your hotel in Rome , you can still save up to 40% off its price utilizing Pruvo.  The service of Pruvo will get you the exact same hotel room you have already booked for a much lower price – we recommend you to try it completely free and risk-free!

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Scams to avoid when visiting Rome

As one of the world’s most beautiful and intriguing cities, Rome consistently attracts millions of tourists every year.

But with such a large number of visitors to the city each month, there are always some business owners, hawkers and petty criminals keen to exploit foreigners’ naivety for financial gain.

While most people and businesses are honest and welcoming to tourists, there are a few scams to look out for during your stay in the Eternal City.

Tourist-only restaurants

rome tourist scams

Most of these restaurants, with some exceptions of course, are located tantalisingly close to Rome’s major sites – the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, the Vatican, the Trevi Fountain and other famous areas of interest.

While walking down the street, you will hear the restaurant before you see it, as the waiting staff will be lining the streets, trying to usher you inside. 

Any restaurant worth their salt in Rome will be far too busy to waste time convincing you to eat there. In fact, you will probably either have to book a table in advance or wait patiently outside until a coveted spot becomes free.

Due to their splendid locations in the shadows of Rome’s hotspots, the owners of these restaurants pay sky-high rent. This is, of course, reflected in the quality of the food. After all, who can afford sky-high rent and top quality ingredients at the same time? This often results in poor quality fare disguised as authentic Roman classic dishes like carbonara and amatriciana. No Italian would be caught dead eating at one of these tacky establishments. Do a little research and explore the backstreets to uncover some hidden culinary gems.

rome tourist scams

On very hot days exploring the city, they can seem like an oasis in the desert, offering bottled water, fruit, snacks and iced drinks to thirsty travellers.

But these kiosks can charge extortionate prices – even asking as much as five euros for a small bottle of water in some cases, which should cost between 50 cents to one euro.

Again, all the menus will be in English only – the absence of Italian being a sure sign of a scam.

‘Gifts’ on the street

rome tourist scams

Do not accept these ‘gifts’ – once you have taken them you will be pestered to make a donation or buy more goods, or the seller might even become increasingly hostile towards you. This is a standard trick on the streets to guilt you into parting with your cash for a piece of junk you don’t want.

The same applies to the hordes of flower-sellers pushing bunches of roses in your face on the street or sometimes even inside bars and restaurants.

Just ignore their persistence, give a firm ‘no’ and walk away.

Pickpockets

rome tourist scams

A common trick is for small groups, often teenage girls, to barge into you while getting on or off a bus, train or metro, before another grabs your belongings and scarpers. 

Just keep your eyes peeled, your valuables locked in a safe if possible, your bags closed and close and your wallet carefully concealed.

Gelato  

rome tourist scams

In fact, some outlets do not produce traditional gelato at all – it is made with a synthetic powder mix .

The best way to tell real gelato from fake is to look at the colours, quantities and flavours on display.

If you see neon green pistachio instead of a more brownish hue of green, avoid.

And if the gelateria boasts flavours like bubblegum and raspberry ripple, in huge whipped heaps in aluminium trays, these are best dodged in favour of a smaller outlet serving quality artisanal produce.

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10 Tourist Scams You Might Face in Rome | Solo Female Travel

  • April 15, 2023
  • italy , rome , solo , travel , wanderer , wanderlust

Rome is fabulous! But, if there’s one thing you probably don’t wish to face in the Eternal City, it is the tourist scams. Isn’t it? Rome, like any other big city in the world, has the long-standing problem of tourist scams. 

So, before you begin your  solo travel to Rome , you must know such tourist traps in Rome. That’s entirely what this blog post is about. Based on my time in the city, I have shared the top 10 tourist scams in Rome. Without further ado, quickly scan through to avoid falling victim to them.

1. Pickpocket in Rome’s Route 64

Undoubtedly, pickpocketing is one of the most common scams in Rome. It can happen anywhere in the city. And Route 64 is its prime hub. Not on Route 64, to be precise, but on the bus that operates via this route. With multiple stops, the bus constantly travels between Termini Station and Vatican City. Because of it, tourists exploring Rome hop on it often. 

And pickpocketers take advantage of this opportunity. They mainly target carefree tourists. That is why while you board this bus in Rome, be extra cautious of your surroundings. Use a shoulder sling or belly pouch to carry your belongings. Also, be confident and blend in with the locals to avoid attracting attention.

2. Scam in the name of friendship bracelet and flowers

This scam is something you will frequently encounter in Rome. While walking the streets, strangers might greet and approach you. They sweet talk you to hand you things. Be it placing friendship bracelets on your wrist or handing you flowers. And, if you accept it by any chance, you will have to pay a decent amount of Euros.

The best thing you can do in this situation is to say a firm “no.” Do not pay any attention or engage in any conversation. If they persist or follow you, threaten to call the police. Hopefully, that will get you rid of them!

3. Fake policeman

Talking about police, another shady practice in the city is the fake policeman scam. It is hard to spot this scam because it is common for police to stop you for sudden security checks in Rome.  

The con artists mainly disguise themselves in police uniforms. They stop you for a check and finally state your documents are fake.

I must say, the scammers of Rome are quite creative. Jokes apart, do not panic and give in! You might be solo on the trip, but you have common sense. Ask for the ID or badge. And let them know you will only cooperate at the nearby police station.

4. Restaurants and cafés without menu

scams of Rome

Another typical scam in Rome is “No Menu” in restaurants or  cafés . I know you are exhausted after a day full of exploration. But do not just walk in and sit down in any restaurants you see. The polished scammers are simply waiting for this move. 

Once you are in, instead of providing the menu, they recommend their speciality. Some restaurants even lure you in the name of serving authentic Italian meals. It is after the bill arrives you get the picture. They charge double the price! And the dishes are not even authentic. 

To avoid such consequences, check restaurant reviews and always ask for menus! 

Little Tip:  Check your bill thoroughly before paying! They tend to tweak it often.

5. The “I am lost” scam.

While exploring the streets or savouring a gelato, somebody might pull up next to you. They are well-dressed and look extremely sophisticated. They claim they are lost and ask for directions. And, once you help them, they carry on with their plan. They will tell you they work for high-end brands like Gucci, Armani, etc., and offer nice goodies (it’s a trap) to scam a few Euros!

6. The souvenir scam

It is common to collect some souvenirs when you are travelling. And in Rome, like other cities, it is common to scam tourists with fake souvenirs—counterfeit items, low-quality artefacts, illegal tickets, etc. 

Make sure the souvenirs you are purchasing are original. How? Check for the authentication of the shops. You can also ask the staff at your  accommodation in Rome  to get some real deals.

7. Tour guides outside the Colosseum

You cannot skip one of the Seven Wonders of the World – the Colosseum- on your travel to Rome. And that’s where most of the scams take place in Rome. Whether in the form of fake tour guides or skip-the-line tickets, scammers are always eyeing tourists.

rome tourist scams

When you arrive at the Colosseum or any popular tourist spot, these unofficial tour guides buzz around you like bees. They go on with scripted dialogues to convince you.

The best way to avoid this is to purchase the ticket online. Or, take the guided tours offered inside the Colosseum. Besides, you can even buy a  Roma Pass , a cost-effective and more convenient way to get around Rome!

8. The taxi scam in Rome

Rome is best explored on foot. But if you happen to use a taxi, make sure to hop on one from the official stand. Look for the official “Taxi” sign if you are hailing one mid-way. Wondering why? Because there are several illegal taxis scamming tourists around in Rome. 

They generally do not hold a licence. And even their meters are broken—a perfect trap to scam money from the not-so-aware tourist. Sometimes, the fraudsters even take a longer route to charge higher rates. 

9. Rigged machines at ATM and Termini

The biggest scam in Rome is the rigged machines. This works because if you appear lost in Termini, the fraudsters pose as an “official helper” and approach you. Then, they direct you to rigged vending machines. And, once you purchase a ticket from these machines, your card will be hacked. You won’t even realise until you notice the suspicious charges debited from your account!

This same scam also takes place with ATMs, and they have their ways of installing skimming devices. Thus, it is always better to opt for ATMs inside the bank or in a good neighbourhood in Rome.

10. The pricey vendor kiosks

You will often spot this vendor kiosk in front of touristy places in Rome like Colosseum. They will charge exorbitant prices for every item on the karts or kiosks. For example, they sell water for €5-10. And, a simple tiny gelato (not the authentic one) from the kart will cost you €7-8. You will surely not want to fall for this tourist trap, particularly when you are in Rome on a budget.

Is it safe to travel solo with all these scams in Rome?

rome tourist scams

If you remember these common scams, Rome,  Italy , is quite safe for solo travel. Be aware of your surrounding, and you are good to go. And stick to your gut feeling. Always! It knows the best.

That brings us to the end of the blog post. While these scams might dishearten you, do not let them detract you from your solo travel to Rome. Maintain a low profile, keep your belongings to yourself, and be alert. Avoid anything that looks suspicious. And use these insights to roam around Rome scam-free.

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An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.

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Scams and pickpockets in Rome! How to protect yourself from pickpockets in Rome!

Pickpocket in Rome. There are pickpockets and scams in Rome like in any other big city with a lot of tourists. How you can protect yourself from pickpockets in Rome is revealed in this article. Enjoy reading!

Beware of scams: Pickpockets and thieves in Rome

With more than 10 million visitors per year Rome is one of the most visited cities. Unfortunately, it also attracts many pickpockets for that reason. Scams and tourist traps are often not far from tourist crowds!

ROME_Colosseum_crowd

Like in other big cities, pickpockets have invented a wide array of traps for unwary tourists. However, the presence of pickpockets doesn’t mean that Rome is a dangerous city. Don’t let tourist scams discourage you from visiting Rome, but always keep a watchful eye. A healthy suspicion can sometimes be very helpful.

Pickpocket in Rome: Don’t fall for these scams in Rome

1. the jacket trick – typical tourist trap in rome.

The so-called “jacket trick” in Rome can be observed over and over again. A car stops on the roadside and asks a passing tourist for information. To show his gratitude for the directions, he offers him a designer jacket from the backseat. Realizing that he doesn’t have enough money to refuel, he asks the tourist for help. As soon as the tourist takes out his wallet, the driver snaps his bills and steps on the gas.

ROME_stop_Tram_local_traffic_l

2. Be aware of pickpockets in the public transport and open places in Rome!

Whenever you’re in a crowd of people, take care of your valuables! It is very likely that a pickpocket is carrying out his malicious plans unnoticeably. Especially at popular sights , you should be on guard and keep an eye on your valuables. Special caution is to be exercised at the Colosseum , St. Peter’s square , the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain . Pickpockets are even active in churches , so never let your purse or jacket pocket open if you visit St. Peter’s Basilica.

ROME_Colosseum-waiting line_03

3. The magazine trick: Another tourist trap in Rome!

In many European cities, including Rome, you can see young people carrying a list of signatures . The trick is very simple: Passersby are stopped and involved in a conversation to sign a list for a noble cause. In most cases, the charities don’t really exist. Those who sign are then asked to donate some money right away. As soon as they open their wallet, they fall victim to the swift hands of pickpockets. So be careful!

4. Pickpocket in Rome: Distraction, a pickpocket’s best friend!

A popular trick among pickpockets that can be observed in many cities is distraction . There are numerous pickpockets that rely on distraction techniques to obtain some money. Rome is no exception to this. Despite all admiration for the beauty of the city, you should always keep your wallet in mind and hold on to it when you’re in a crowd. It also happens that a single person or a group tries to talk to you. However, their role is only to distract you while a pickpocket takes your valuables.

ROME_Metro_Entrance_l

Pickpocket in Rome: How do I protect myself?

Pickpockets often try their luck when it gets crowded in public transports like the metro or the bus. When the passengers stand close to each other, it’s less noticeable when you get pushed “unintentionally”. It’s a method to distract you while your wallet or cash is being stolen. If you think this could never happen to you, then think again. It can happen to anybody! This attitude is also not very advantageous because it will diminish your level of alertness.

Advice #1: Carry your bag in front of the body!

In public transports in Rome it is advisable to take off your backpack and carry it on the chest. This will make it more difficult for a pickpocket to steal something from your bag without notice! The same applies to handbags.

ROME_Colosseum-waiting line

Advice #2: Empty your handbag and carry it across the shoulder!

Dear ladies, it’s best to wear your handbag across the shoulder and to sort out anything you don’t need in advance. A bit of cash for the day and perhaps a phone, but multiple bank cards, your driver’s license and your passport are usually not required for sightseeing in Rome!

Advice #3: No wallet in the back pocket!

Dear guys, even though you may be used to it, you should not wear your wallet in the back pocket of your pants. It’s best to put your wallet in the inside pocket of your jacket or in another safe place. In the metro in Rome, it gets full especially in the morning and evening. If you take the bus, be aware that bus line 64, which goes directly to the Vatican , is particularly known for pickpockets.

ROME_Piazza-San-Pietro_Tourists_l

Advice #4: Don’t put valuables on the table!

If you sit in a café or restaurant in Rome , you should not put your valuables on the table, or, like many people do, hang your jacket over the chair. This only invites pickpockets from the neighbor table to grab unnoticeably in your jacket.

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Podcast episodes

Episode #159: popular tourist scams in italy (and how to avoid them).

This article may contain compensated links. See our full disclosure here

Listen to “Popular Tourist Scams in Italy (And How to Avoid Them)” on Spreaker.

Italy is one of the most visited countries in the world and with such a large number of visitors as with most big cities around the world, you’ll usually find the odd scammer. We share some common scams and give you strategies to avoid them. For those people who haven’t done a lot of international travel or are going on their first trip to Italy, there’s no need for alarm – Italy is generally an extremely safe country to travel in, but there are a small number of tricksters who try to take advantage of visitors who are distracted by the business and beautiful surroundings.

Show notes In this episode, we get practical and talk about an annoying part of travel to any popular destination – scams. Even the most well-traveled of us can and do repeatedly fall foul of some of these scams – taxis often being the main culprit. We also talk about things that might appear as scams but are just a normal part of the culture.

What you’ll learn in this episode

Most of the 64 million visitors to Italy head to only a handful of places – Rome, Florence, Venice, Cinque Terre, Sorrento, and the Amalfi Coast – and the scammers tend to be concentrated in these areas. So, if you really want to avoid the scammers then it’s definitely worth heading off the beaten path into lesser-known areas, but chances are you’ll spend time in one of the big cities at one point. 

Taxi scams are common the world over, but it’s important to remember that not all taxi drivers are dodgy – far from it. The unscrupulous few give taxi drivers a bad reputation, but it’s often where people have their main experiences of being ripped off. 

Classic scams

  • Not turning the meter on – ask them politely but firmly to turn on the meter
  • Quoting a set fee that is way over what it should cost at the city’s standard rate. For instance, in Rome, there’s a set fare to go to and from the airport from the city, which is around €50
  • Stating they only take cash – in Italy, they need to be able to take card
  • Giving you the wrong change. ie you hand over a 50 euro note and they might give you back 10 when they should have given you back 20. This is preying on people that are tired, often after a long-haul flight

Train stations

This is generally where you’ll find this most. Again – people are tired and disoriented, just wanting to get to their hotel or accommodation. In an airport, it can be a bit easier to see where to go, but a train station is a mass of people rushing to get everywhere, so take particular attention in train stations.

Approaches at the airport are also not allowed – you need to get into the line at the taxi rank which is monitored.

If you’re coming off a long flight from Australia, of you’ve had to change airports in the US as well as Europe, you’re going to be really tired so it’s worth it to pay the extra to book a transfer. Transfers are usually around €75, which to can be so worth it for the ease – you have someone meet you, they’ve got your name, they take your luggage, walk with you and then drop you straight at the hotel. You’re paid upfront and there’s no chance for any funny business

We use Suntransfers for airport transfers in the major cities. In Rome, we like to use Welcome Pickups – a great service with an easy-to-use and reliable system for booking airport transfers.

Tips to avoid taxi scams

  • DO NOT hail taxis as this is not really standard practice in Italy so they’ll know you’re a tourist
  • Book transfers or use taxi booking apps that work like Uber (standard Uber is not available in Italy, only the premium Uber black service) such as FreeNow in Rome and Naples and AppTaxi in Florence – everything is tracked so you’re less likely to be ripped off

FreeNow – book a taxi online using this handy app for Rome, Milan, Turin, Naples, Palermo, Catania, and Cagliari. This app calls the official city taxis. You can track your ride and pay via the app, just like with Uber.

Android • iOS

AppTaxi – book a taxi in Florence, Venice, Rome, Milan, Naples, Bologna, Modena, Lucca, Padua, Verona, Trieste, Viareggio , Palermo, and Catania amongst others.  This free app calls city taxis from the many available companies. You can track your ride and pay via the app, just like you would Uber.

Android • Android

DISCOVER: Other useful apps for your trip to Italy

Skip the line tickets and tours offered on the street

Skip the line.

Picture the scene, you’re standing in line at a major attraction and the waiting time looks like it’s going to be 2 – 3 hours. Suddenly a friendly gentleman appears offering to sell you skip-the-line tickets. It’s tempting, right? Wrong!  The only way to skip the line is to pre-purchase your tickets and tours in advance. A side-effect of the pandemic which has proven a benefit is that thee days you can’t generally access places like the Colosseum or the Vatican Museums without prepurchasing timed entry tickets. 

This is a typical scam used in the line for security at St Peter’s Basilica which is actually free to enter, so there are no tickets unless you want to go up to the dome. The security line there can be very long and frustrating but no matter how hot or tired you’re feeling, don’t fall for this scam. 

Cheap tours

Another option these people use is to offer you a very cheap tour of the sights. Regular listeners know that we are always keen to make sure people understand that tour guides in Italy must have a license which takes a lot of time to study, concluding with a very hard exam to pass. The guides (especially the good ones) are in hot demand and would never go hawking on the street. They need to carry their accreditation badge at all times, so you can ask to see that if someone tries to sell you a tour.

The easiest way to avoid all of this is to pre-book everything before you go, which is a good idea generally as things get so booked up – unless you’re traveling between November and February/early March in which case you can probably walk straight in/have a short wait. 

Where to pre-book your tickets

GetYourGuide is our preferred place for simple skip-the-line tickets. GetYourGuide is based in Europe and has the largest listing of tours and activities in Italy. 

For more than just entry, our favorite small group tour companies are Take Walks  (formerly Walks of Italy) and  Liv Tours  and we prefer  With Locals  for private tours. Both offer very well-designed and engaging tours of the major sights in Italy as well as interesting food and cultural tours. We have detailed advice for booking tickets/tours for the Colosseum and for the Vatican . 

READ: More on booking tours in How to plan an Italy trip

Fake designer goods

Most people understand that Gucci doesn’t sell their bags and luxury items at local markets off a blanket but just to make it clear, those convincing-looking knockoffs are not real and come at a different kind of price than the at least 4-figure tags you’ll see on the legitimate versions. 

Italy is highly protective of its luxury goods industry so be warned – there are fines for anyone caught purchasing these goods. Knockoffs are generally made very cheaply using inferior materials and techniques. They are also often made in sweatshop environments, which is not something you want on your conscience. 

If you like to shop, you can grab designer items at discounted prices of up to 70% off at discount outlets in Italy. You likely won’t pay just €30 for a bag but you will get an authentic piece made to exacting standards with no haggling on the street. The Serravalle outlet near Milan is huge and there’s the Barberino outlet near Florence and the Castel Romano outlet near Rome.

Creative con artists

Charming centurions.

We hate to disillusion you but the guys dressed up as Roman centurions wandering through crowds of tourists are not paid to be there to add to the atmosphere. Often very charismatic, they invite you in for a photo but will then ask for cash before handing you back your phone or camera. The city of Rome is really cracking down on this, but forewarned is forearmed, so you can avoid falling prey to this. 

Sidewalk artists

A scam in Florence particularly is a street artist accusing you of walking over or damaging their sidewalk art and asking for cash in compensation.  Most people haven’t, of course, done that, and any legitimate artist has usually cleared a big space around the piece that they’re working on. This can lead to an embarrassing and awkward scene, so if it happens to you, try to simply hold your ground and walk away.

We tend not to carry much cash – if any, these days as do many which makes cash scams more difficult for scammers but they can try to get you to go to the ATM – don’t and go straight to the nearest police. Fortunately, you’ll find lots of station points in major tourist areas. 

People offering free stuff

Bracelets, roses, or anything free is a huge red flag that they are actually going to demand/expect payment. This situation can be very uncomfortable because unlike taxi drivers (who earn a reasonable wage and should know better) it is very clear the people taking this approach to earn money are pretty desperate and are often refugees escaping horrible situations at home.

If this happens resolve to be firm but kind. We tend to remind ourselves that we are part of the lucky 2% of people in the world who travels internationally for pleasure, but  this can feel intrusive, is annoying plus sometimes this scam is also part of a pickpocketing effort – the best thing to do is say “Basta!” which means “no/enough” very firmly (but not rudely) and they usually go away.

Some things that look like a scam but are not

These things are often restaurant related and might be something you are not used to, but are standard practice in Italy, so do try to accept it as a different culture and not be antagonized. 

Paying more for your view/being waited on

In Italy, you are generally charged more to sit outside in the piazza and enjoy your coffee or meal than you are standing at the bar inside. This is not a scam but standard practice which makes sense when you consider that there is a waiter involved in bringing the food/check and the tables outside are most popular. Places, where your meal or coffee will likely be what many consider to be outrageously priced, are Piazza San Marco in Venice and Piazza Navona in Rome. If you don’t want to pay €8 for a coffee, then simply don’t sit outside here/in hugely popular places. But we think that sometimes the price is worth it for the experience if you linger for a while and soak up the atmosphere, watching the passers-by.

In restaurants and cafes, there is often a charge for bread/cutlerly called ‘coperto’. This is technically illegal in some places including Rome but not very well policed. The charge will be around €2 – 5 depending on the location and style of the establishment. Where it is legal it must be published on the restaurant menu which you’ll find outside the front of the establishment. When you consider that tips are not the norm in Italy, this is a minimal extra cost. 

In very touristy places (Amalfi Coast – we’re looking at you!) you may also see servizio or a service charge of 10-20% added to your bill. This should also be printed on the menu, so do make sure you check if you’re concerned about inflated prices. 

Not really a scam but still annoying, is the rounding up of prices and all those fun, added extras – like a rendition of O Sole Mio in your gondola or letting you jump into the water at Capri’s blue grotto. It’s not so bad paying for this but it might feel .Now I really dont have a problem with paying for this but perhaps it falls into the tip category and not an upfront charge..

Tipping had its own podcast episode as it is not the same as you might find in your home country, and it’s important to respect a country’s own culture and handy to know the do’s and don’ts. 

LISTEN: To our episode on tipping in Italy

What to do if you get scammed?

If you do get scammed or someone over charges you, should you report it to the police/the carabinieri? Technically, yes, this is the right thing to do but in reality, it can be quite difficult unless there are officers close by and you have specific evidence and would also be hugely time-consuming.  

Italian cities are cracking down on scams where they can. For instance, the city of Rome has a program to catch out the centurions, but the scammers typically just move to another area (ie not near the Colosseum). They’ve recently been encountered in a popular spot, Pincio Hill, in the gardens of the Galleria Borghese. 

The best course of action is probably just to move on and chalk it up to experience and, if the damage was minimal, laugh about it later. It can leave a bad taste in your mouth but do you really want a scammer ruining your much-longed-for vacation? It’s giving them a double win. The best revenge is to move on and spread the word to your friends and family that are headed to Italy about what they can do to avoid the problem.

Getting scammed is rare in Italy except maybe by taxi drivers, so if just need to keep your wits about you, be prepared and you will avoid the worst of it. I f it does happen to you, don’t beat yourself up. Despite countless trips to Italy, Katy fell for the taxi scam in Rome just last year going from the station to Piazza della Rotunda. She was tired and didn’t have the mental energy to fight the crazy €30 charge. The best way to avoid these things is to prebook taxis and transfers and ideally not carry a lot / if any cash.

Credit and debit cards VISA and Mastercard are widely accepted (though American Express and Diners Club are less so). You may want to consider a foreign currency card like the Wise Mastercard where you can pre-load it ready for your trip by converting Euros easily and cheaply from your US dollar, Australian dollar or Canadian dollar accounts (plus many other currencies) and can do it when the rates are good.  

READ: all you need to know about How much does a trip to Italy cost

Places mentioned in the show

  • Serravalle – outlet shopping near Milan
  • Barberino – outlet shopping near Florence
  • Castel Romano – outlet shopping near Rome
  • Pincian/Pincio Hill – a hill in Rome. The hill overlooks the Campus Martius
  • O Sole Mio – a well-known Neapolitan song written in 1898. Listen to Luciano Pavarotti’s rendition here
  • Carabinieri – the national police of Italy who primarily carries out domestic and foreign policing duties

Resources from Untold Italy

  • Italy is a safe place to visit, but there can be pickpocketing in crowded places, which can generally be avoided with a few simple measures, find out How to avoid pickpockets in Italy . Find out the legit ways for buying tickets to the Borghese Gallery and Colosseum
  • Discover why we believe it’s key to have travel insurance for Italy
  • Get help planning your Italy trip in How to plan a trip to Italy and check out our 101 Italy travel tips
  • Listen:  to episodes about planning your Italy visit in Episode #104 Experiences to include in your dream trip to Italy  and Episode #053: Planning the perfect Italy itinerar y and making your budget stretch in Italy, in Episode #116 Extend your Italy trip budget with these travel hacks and Episode #145 Budget friendly ways to explore Rome
  • How to plan a trip to Italy – our article that takes you step by step through trip planning so you can avoid our mistakes
  • Italy Travel Planning – our FREE online community where you can ask questions and get inspiration for planning your trip
  • Travel shop where you’ll find items mentioned in the show 

Planning a trip to Italy?

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13 BIG scams to avoid in Italy

Last updated on April 14th, 2024.

You’ve just finished planning your dream trip to Italy.

The flights and hotels are booked and you’ve planned both your itinerary and your budget.

All that’s left to do is go there and enjoy your trip, right?

Italy is a land of many things and travel bucket list royalty for many. Incredible architecture, the best food culture, perfect weather and a travel landscape that you’ll always remember.

But, Italy isn’t exempt from scams, of which tourists are typically the unlucky targets.

It might sound like I’m trying to scare you off from visiting, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Instead, I’m writing this travel guide to make you aware of some of the most common tourist traps in the country. From minor incidences to criminal activity, these are 13 big scams to avoid in Italy.

The majority of the information provided in this post is based on actual incidents and news reports. It’s in no way meant to ostracize or highlight one group/s of people. I ask you to consider this while reading. Thank you.

Have I been scammed in Italy?

Of all the years I’ve spent traveling — and living — in Italy , I’ve never (touch wood) fallen victim to a scam. I think there are several reasons behind this:

1. I speak the language. It goes without saying that if you speak Italian , you’ve a slight advantage. Scammers may be less likely to target you if they think you’re a local. However, I could still be targeted given that I don’t typically look Italian .

Women of color in Italy - Piazza dei Signori - Vicenza

2. I’m travel savvy. I’ve been fortunate to have traveled to many countries, some of which are known to scam tourists. From arguing with a dodgy tuk-tuk driver in Bangkok to confronting an overcharging taxi driver in Seville, I’ve seen plenty. Luckily, I’ve never fell victim to anything more serious.

3. I’m astute. If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s 100% a duck. I’ll never forget one of my first trips abroad at 19 years old with a former boyfriend. He decided to play the notorious ‘cup game’ with a group of men in Las Ramblas, Barcelona . Despite our hotel’s warnings, and me advising against it in his ear, he went ahead. We left that night, his pocket €50 lighter and the evening ruined.

You’ll likely recognize that some of the scams on the list happen not only in Italy, but across the globe. The most intelligent thing you can do is to stay alert, keep your belongings close and read this advice.

13 big scams to avoid in Italy

Scam coffee drinks in italy.

I don’t need to tell you that coffee, and cafe, culture is big in Italy. Our local pasticceria (patisserie), or bar, is where we usually sit down to a traditional Italian breakfast .

But, not all bars and cafes operate on the ‘honesty is the best policy’ rule in Italy, more so in larger cities. If you want to avoid being scammed in Rome, be aware of cafes around major tourist landmarks.

Cornetto and cappuccino - Breakfast food in Italy

I first covered this point in ‘ 25 mistakes to avoid in Italy ’, but it bears repeating.

In 2019, a group of tourists paid €81 ($88.58/£66.93) for their meal in a cafe near St. Peter’s Basilica . On the surface, their meal of 2 hamburgers, 2 double Americanos and 2 double cappuccinos didn’t seem that unusual.

But, when a photo of the receipt was published online, many Italians spotted ‘ 2 cappucin doppio ’. The real scam here wasn’t the price; it was that ‘double cappuccinos’ don’t exist — bar this area of Rome.

Bogus tours in Rome

I can’t tell you the number of people that tried selling us tickets to enter the Vatican Museum . Even though we were just passing by, these touts were extremely persistent. After refusing the fifth person in the space of 3 minutes, our patience began to wane.

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t buy any tours or packages from these ticket touts in Rome.

Not only do they cost more, but they also throw in wild claims, such as having tea with the Pope! In truth, you’ll probably find yourself waiting with everyone else in line, and with people who paid less than you.

St Peter's Basilica - - Best UNESCO world heritage sites

The best way to avoid these touts in Rome is to buy your ticket online . It’s straightforward and you’ve someone to complain to if anything goes wrong.

You can also book tours the right — and legit — way. Here are some of my favorite tours for visiting Rome and the Vatican.

  • Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel tour
  • Early entry to the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel & St Peter’s Basilica
  • Rome: Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill priority tickets
  • Rome: Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel Official Guided Tour

Another good tip is to speak to the reception staff in your hotel. They almost always have connections with legit tour companies and they’ll also arrange for hotel transfers and pickup.

Choose a hotel in a central area, for example, by the Colosseum , as they’ll more likely have good contacts.

Tourist-menu restaurants

This one applies not only to scams to avoid in Italy but also across the globe. Because of this, I still think it’s worth mentioning. Why? Because you can eat so well in Italy that it won’t take long to find a decent place.

You’ll find restaurants with sub-standard quality and overpriced tourist menus across cities like Rome, Florence and Venice. We didn’t see many signs of them in the center of Milan but we’re sure they were there.

Well-presented waiters typically stand outside inviting you to dine at their venue. They may try speaking to you to in English or show you their menu available in different languages.

While not all of these restaurants are necessarily poor quality, make sure to thoroughly check the prices before entering. Don’t forget to check the small print like cover, and any service charge for larger groups.

Venice in winter - radicchio Treviso

The last thing I’d say about these tourist-menu restaurants is that the menu is less likely to include seasonal produce.

Take the radicchio tardivo from Treviso . One of my all-time favorite ingredients, but it’s only available from November until the end of March. Because of this, you’re likely to find the ingredient in many dishes served in good trattorias.

The same can’t be said at a tourist restaurant. Instead, you’ll most likely see standard Italian dishes on the menu, like spaghetti Bolognese.

‘Friendship’ bracelets

One of the many reported scams to avoid in Italy, that I’ve seen for myself, is the ‘friendship’ bracelets trick. Several incidences have been reported in Rome so be on your guard when visiting.

A person (usually a man) comes up to you and begins to engage in friendly banter. They then tell you that they want to give you a small souvenir. If you don’t firmly refuse, they’ll show you this souvenir — a friendship bracelet — and will tie it around your wrist.

Friendship bracelets - how to avoid being scammed in Rome

Once it’s firmly secured, they will then say they’ve no money and will ask for payment in exchange. At this point, one of two things can happen:

  • you feel obliged to pay since you can’t easily take it off on the spot
  • it’s a trick to distract you while an accomplice tries to pickpocket your valuables

You can avoid this scam in Rome by being firm from the get go. Don’t worry about offending anyone, say ‘no’ and go.

I saw the friendship bracelet scam happening with my own eyes in Venice. It was frustrating to watch as an American couple tried finding some money to give to the guy. The scammer had tied the bracelet around the man’s wrist and wouldn’t leave them alone till they’d ‘paid’ him.

Oil prints scam in Florence

Florence is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful cities to visit in Italy. Its famous landmarks, including its Duomo and Michelangelo’s David attract visitors in their droves, whether in winter or summer.

But, Florence has also become known for something a little more unsavory: the oil prints scam. In my opinion it’s one of the worst, and definite top 3 scams to avoid in Italy.

During our 2 days in Florence , I remember these sellers well. They were located in touristic areas of the city like Piazza Duomo and in the vicinity of the Uffizi Gallery . From our observation, they appeared to be of North African or Middle Eastern descent.

Florence oil painting - scams to avoid in Italy

How it works

The scam goes a little something like this. Sellers spread out large oil prints (usually of Florence) on the ground. But, what seems innocent on the surface is anything but. They place the prints in certain points to make tourists ‘accidentally’ step on them.

If this doesn’t happen, the sellers take the scam to the next level by staining the prints themselves. Unsuspecting tourists, too distracted by the architecture or too busy taking photos, have no idea what has happened.

What comes next are the consequences of these ‘damages’. Sellers requests can range from €25 ($27.34/£20.66) to €300 ($328/£248), with some reports of tourists having physically been threatened for payment. Japanese and Chinese tourists have unfortunately been the prime target of the oil prints scam.

Please keep your wits about you when visiting Florence. As I said, I clearly remember these sellers and remember thinking at the time, how inconvenient their locations were.

Map of Italy

‘mime artists’ in florence.

Something we didn’t really notice in Florence were the number of ‘mime artists’ walking through the city. Women dressed in white — their faces painted the same color — walk between Piazza della Signoria and Piazza della Repubblica.

In reality, these ‘mime artists’ are gypsy women that walk around in pairs, approaching families with small children.

Florence landscape - where to go in Italy

They’ve different strategies, which include ‘putting on a show’ for children, or trying to shake hands with the adults. Their main objective is to get money in exchange for the show or to try and steal your valuables.

Working in pairs, one may try to distract you while the other takes your things. You have been warned.

Watch: 4 scams to avoid in Italy

Pickpocket gangs on buses

One of the busiest bus lines in Rome is line 64. It runs between St. Peter’s Square and Termini Station and is popular with tourists visiting the city. Because of this, it’s also rife for pick-pocketing.

It’s not unheard of to hear stories about gangs that target tourists on public transport in Rome. It happened to an old colleague and her boyfriend as they took the bus back to Rome Fiumicimo airport .

64 bus in Rome

Target made

Though she didn’t know it at the time, a gang had targeted them with different members brushing closely by. They only realized at the airport that some of their belongings, namely her passport and his wallet, were missing.

What followed next were several appointments to their consulate and an extended stay in Rome.

While it’s easy to get distracted on public transport, act like you would at home. Keep your bag in the front, and be aware when someone’s standing too close. To avoid using line 64, or any other public transport in Rome, the hop-on hop-off bus is a good alternative .

Club or bar touts

This scam, involving club or bar touts, can work in different ways and it isn’t exclusive to Italy.

You may be approached by someone working for a local bar/club on the street. This could be a young, beautiful woman if you’re a lone male. They tell you that this bar/club is the hottest spot in town and they can get you free tickets.

However, once inside, you realize that not only are the claims inflated but so too are the prices.

Wine bar - how do I avoid being scammed in Rome

A hefty bill arrives, and beneath the gaze of the intimidating bouncers, you’ve no other choice than to pay.

I can see how lone travelers, especially younger ones, could fall victim to this scam. However, if you’re traveling solo, there are other (free) ways to meet people.

Check sites like Couchsurfing or Meetup for any events happening. You’re more likely to meet other travelers and like-minded people, and less likely to end your night completely broke.

The ‘paper move’ scam

This one started as a legitimate way for deaf people to ask for assistance in Italy. Unfortunately, since its inception, it’s been taken and turned by scammers into something more deceptive.

A scam that’s been reported around the bars and restaurants of Milan is ‘La ‘ mossa del foglietto ‘ (‘the paper move’).

Milan Cathedral from outside — plan a trip to Italy

It usually involves fake ‘deaf’ beggars, targeting unsuspecting, and kindhearted, clients. They’ll walk into a bar/restaurant and leave a gadget (like a keyring) on the table. Alongside will be a note requesting a small contribution.

When they return to collect the gadget and note, they’ll check to see if the patron has left any money. If not, they may use this opportunity to try to take any valuables on the table.

They’ll distract them with their request for help, before stealing the valuable item beneath the note. The most common items that are taken are mobile phones.

This ‘paper move’ is likely to be more common in tourist areas around the Milan Duomo . Be vigilant and don’t get lost in the moment.

Fake police officers

This scam would frighten the savviest of travelers because it involves the police — or does it?

After our negative experience of dealing with Moroccan police , we’re a little more cautious with anyone that calls themselves police officers.

In the larger cities across Italy, there have been reports of skilled scammers dressed in police-style uniforms. Posing as ‘tourist police’, they go around in pairs, stopping people to carry out a ‘security check’.

Italy police officers

What’s worrying is that some have fake badges to show, which instantly gains the trust of the unsuspecting person/s. Stories have circulated of these ‘police officers’ checking bags and wallets for ‘counterfeit’ or ‘drug money.’ Many don’t even realize that their money’s missing until long after.

It’s hard to advise on how to avoid this scam in Italy as it’s related to ‘the law’. Personally, I’d ask the ‘officer’ if they could do the security check at the police station than on the streets. You never know, it might just deter them from continuing the interrogation.

Unscrupulous taxi drivers

I’m sure many of you have a horror story to tell about an unscrupulous taxi driver from your travels.

And, sadly, Italy is no exception. Typically hanging around at airports and train stations are ‘fake’ taxi drivers waiting to rip-off tired tourists.

Ride-sharing services like Uber aren’t available in Italy (except for Rome and Milan) so taxis are the only ‘car’ option. I outline this topic in greater detail in my guide on taking taxis in Italy .

A row of taxis in Rome — what not to do in Italy

Some less than honest drivers may charge more for the ride or give the wrong change (and even currency). Other tactics include not starting the meter or increasing the fare price on the weekend.

To avoid getting scammed in Italy, only use those that are parked in trusted areas. In Rome, there are taxi ranks located near the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and other major landmarks.

Even when getting inside a legitimate taxi, check to see if the driver’s turned on their meter.

The overly helpful local

There’s such a thing as being too helpful, especially when its coming from a stranger. And across big cities in Italy, there have been accounts of thieves posing as good Samaritans.

ATM Rome - Italy scams to avoid

Some may warn you to keep your wallet safe — before proceeding to steal it. Others might offer help for buying tickets for the metro, only to rob you of your money and cards.

As always, stay vigilant, alert and firmly say ‘no’ to their offer.

The holiday home scam

Many of the scams that happen in Italy stem from tourists renting a holiday home.

You see an advert for a beautiful villa on Airbnb and email the owner. They ask to continue the conversation off the site by e-mail or via Whatsapp.

Villa Italy - scams to avoid in Italy

As you continue to converse, the owner informs you that they’ve removed the original advert due to a technical issue. Instead, they say that the advert’s live on another site — very similar to Airbnb — and sends you the link.

It’s at this point where you’re duped into paying a deposit to secure the property. The scammer takes the money leaving you with nothing but a lesson learned.

Against the terms of service

If you ever find yourself in the same position and are asked to send a deposit, end the conversation immediately. It goes against Airbnb’s terms of service and all you should conduct all payments through the site.

I hope you’ve found this article helpful when you visit Italy. Scams will continue to happen at home and abroad, and it’s up to us to stay vigilant.

Let me know what you think of these scams to avoid in Italy by leaving a comment below.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I’ve recommended. Thank you for your support.

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Milan - Scams to avoid in Italy

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Welcome to my site. I'm Lisa, an Italy-based travel and lifestyle blogger behind Following the Rivera. Find out more about me and my story.

What are the most common scams to avoid in Italy?

Florence oil painting - scams to avoid in Italy

1. scam coffee drinks 2. bogus tours 3. tourist restaurants 4. friendship bracelet scam 5. oil prints scam 6. ‘paper move’ scam

108 thoughts on “ 13 BIG scams to avoid in Italy ”

Really useful post, Lisa. I am heading over to Florence on 15th of this month and really excited, but I’ll certainly keep my wits about me having read this. Our Italian friends who live near Milan are travelling down to see us for a couple of days so hopefully they will set us right too!

Aw you’re welcome Jane! I didn’t see the oil paintings on our last trip to Florence so maybe they have since been moved. Enjoy you time here!

Thanks for sharing this informative post! As a frequent traveler to Italy, I can attest to the prevalence of scams in the country. The tip about being cautious when having your photo taken is particularly useful, as I’ve had my wallet stolen while having my picture taken with a street performer before. I’ll definitely be more vigilant in the future. 😬

I’m so happy you enjoyed this post. I’m sorry to hear about your experience here. It happens more often than visitors recognise

Very interesting. Although I visit Italy on a regular basis I’ve never been scammed – or the scammer was so good that I didn’t realize it 😀 But it’s like you say: When you travel a lot you quickly recognize if someone is up to no good. Obviously, some young man wanted to ‘help’ me buy a ticket in Rome. But I didn’t let him. Yes, I do get asked to sign papers against drug abuse. But I don’t do it. I actually don’t find it too difficult not to fall for all those obvious tricks. But maybe we are kind of trained since we are used to being foreign. And yes, speaking the language – even just a bit – helps a lot since the scammer normally doesn’t know how much – or little – you actually speak and understand 😉

Well said Renata. We had the same situation in Florence recently and I’m 100% sure it was real. However, we walked away even though we live here. You just never know 🙂

Thanks for your warnings! We usually always check reviews of restaurants on Google Maps before we go anywhere, but today at the last night of our Italy trip, we were tired and hungry, and via the children we got invited into a restaurant close to the Duomo in Milan, where we were terribly treated and scammed. So, you can add the center of Milan to the list as well… it turns out their place is not traceable by Google Maps (apparently, that’s possible!): Via Dogana 2 is not recognized as a restaurant there!

Hi Michiel, thank you for your comment. I’m so sorry to hear about your experience. I will definitely be adding it to the list thank you!

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rome tourist scams

Anyway, I ordered a Croque Madame. The price on the menu was 10 euros. When I got the bill, I saw two items: the cappuccino that I ordered and an "antipasto" for 12 euros. I went inside to tell the staff that I ordered a Croque Madame. The man I talked to said that the "antipasto" was the Croque Madame and that 12 euros was correct. I asked him to check the menu. He hands me a menu where the price for the Croque Madame was shown as 12 euros. I apologize (thinking that I was mistaken) and pay the bill.

This evening, I thought about it again, knowing that the menu said 10 euros. The restaurant's breakfast menu is not on their website. I went through the photos on Google and found a breakfast menu posted from 2 months ago. That was the menu I was given when I first ordered; the Croque Madame was shown as 10 euros.

Is there any way to escalate this? I am going to post negative reviews on multiple platforms, but that doesn't seem to be enough for something like this. The scam is pretty terrible, especially seeing as the staff had the nerve to lie to my face and hand me a different menu than the one I was given when I ordered.

I'm agitated with myself that I cannot find my receipt, but even then, the menu item was shown as an "antipasto". The ambiguity almost seems purposeful...

Any help would be appreciated as it's a shame that many tourists have probably gotten a bad impression of Rome due to people like this!

' class=

https://www.caffemartiniroma.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Menu-Unico-Gran-Caffe-Rossi-Martini.pdf

' class=

Since you went inside to complain, you ate outside and there is a surcharge for that. They pay thousands to the City to be allowed to put tables outside.

Without mentioning that in 2 months of Covid they may have increased their prices.

rome tourist scams

You are going to post multiple bad reviews over 2 Euro? Good grief.

You do realize that food prices and other incidental costs have risen for restaurants over the course of the pandemic?

It would seem that this restaurant raised prices (which has occurred in many restaurants on planet Earth due to COVID-19) and they accidentally gave you one of the menus with outdated prices at your table.

If you were sure that it was 10 Euro, you should have asked to see another one or two menus. It appears you didn't think much about it at the time, but now you want to leave all this negative feedback over 2 Euro.

rome tourist scams

I would not be surprised at all if the restaurant had raised some of its prices, and was sloppy about ensuring that all of its paper and on-line menus were updated. Sloppy, yes, but not something terrible and not worth ruining my trip over.

I know you feel upset and "agitated," and I understand that, as no one likes to feel duped. Personally, however, I would try and forget it and focus on the positive side of your visit to Rome. Based on my personal experiences, I would count myself very lucky if the worst thing on a trip was to feel cheated out of two euros.

I agree with USA_Drew, but also want to mention something about negative reviews of restaurants based on a single bad experience of some type (not pertaining to food quality or immutable characteristic such as location & ambiance). Sometimes there's a price issue, sometimes the person isn't able to get into a restaurant due to lacking a reservation and is upset, sometimes there's a reservation but the restaurant is overfull due to patrons not leaving when expected and the patron has to wait. For whatever reason, the person writing the review is upset and disappointed because of a single incident. I want to say to such reviewers: OK, you've written your negative review to vent your anger. Please delete it as soon as possible (either the next day, the next month or the next year - as soon as possible for you). Both for the benefit of the restaurant, who shouldn't be punished for eternity over a minor misunderstanding and also for the benefit of folks who look at restaurant ratings and are not benefited by reviews that dwell on a unique and personal grievance.

"OK, you've written your negative review to vent your anger. Please delete it as soon as possible (either the next day, the next month or the next year - as soon as possible for you). Both for the benefit of the restaurant, who shouldn't be punished for eternity over a minor misunderstanding and also for the benefit of folks who look at restaurant ratings and are not benefited by reviews that dwell on a unique and personal grievance."

Well, if you disagree with me; that's fine. I am agitated at dishonesty, not over losing 2 euros. Why was I handed a menu that showed a different price when I sat down compared to when I talked to the staff? Whether it's dishonesty or sloppiness, it's bad business. People reading my review can do whatever they wish with my experience.

But yet, here you go and already label it a "scam" where by your own explanation - it doesn't appear to be a scam at all.

I guess your jumping to conclusions is just sloppiness on your part and not dishonesty on your part?

May I ask did you tip?

Only two posts..all about this….priorities my friend…let it go…..please….for your benefit…

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rome tourist scams

  • Travel Updates

Tourists warned about big Bali scam

Aussies have been warned about a Bali scam after a woman was deported for committing the act on ATM machines across the island.

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A woman was deported from Bali for installing skimming devices on ATMs across popular resorts, with Aussie tourists warned to stay cautious when using cash machines.

The 35-year-old Ukranian woman, identified by her initials BK, was sentenced to two years and 10 months in prison and fined IDR 100,000,000 – about $10,000 – by the Denpasar District Court in 2022.

A woman was deported from Bali last week for installing skimming devices on ATMs.

She was deported from the island last week to Poland over the skimming case, according to The Bali Sun.

A skimmer is a device installed on card readers that collects card numbers which are then replicated into counterfeit cards.

A tourist showed a skimming device on an ATM in Rome in a TikTok. Picture: TikTok/sheerinproblems

“The BK case is a clear example of the Bali Ministry of Law and Human Rights’ commitment to maintaining state sovereignty and protecting the public from law violations,” Pramella Y. Pasaribu, head of the Bali Regional Office of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights told the publication.

“We will continue to improve co-ordination with related agencies and strengthen supervision of the presence of foreigners in the Bali region.”

It comes as the latest deportation figures reveal 318 foreigners were denied entry into Bali with 132 not having an Indonesian visa.

Following the ATM skimming device scam, Aussies and tourists alike have been advised to use machines that are within banks or trusted spaces and where possible, avoid using ATMs that are placed on the street.

Tourists warned about Bali money scam

Travellers should look out for telltale signs such as of tampering or additional readers being stuck on top.

“Look for signs of tampering or features that don’t fit with how the rest of the ATM looks, such as if the keypad is overly raised or looks too shiny and new,” Finder advises.

“Also look out for tiny cameras that could be planted anywhere around the machine (which may be used to capture your PIN as you enter it).

“If you notice any of these suspicious signs at the ATM, do not use it.”

Last year, a tourist revealed how a fraudster had placed a handwritten “broken” sign over the card slot of an Commonwealth Bank machine in an attempt to lure people to use a nearby ATM that was reportedly fitted with a card-skimming device.

Another tourist showed a ‘broken’ sign on a Commonwealth Bank ATM in Bali to divert people to use a nearby ATM allegedly fitted with a skimming device. Picture: Facebook

“Three or four people came through and went to go use the next ATM over, but I told them the ATM was fine, so they could use the Commbank one,” the traveller wrote in a Facebook post.

“The [man] kept on watching me like he was angry; as soon as I walked away, I watched him put another sign on it.”

Aussies have also been warned about other scams targeting tourists including a “coin scam” .

A woman took to a travel group for Australians visiting Bali on Facebook explaining how a known family, not local to the island, would go around asking Aussies if they can look at their money in an attempt to steal their wallets.

Angus Kidman, travel expert at Finder, said no matter where you’re travelling, being cautious with your wallet and cash was essential.

“Pickpocketing and theft are always a risk in any popular tourist area,” he told news.com.au.

“If someone asks to see your Australian money, an easy response is ‘not carrying any mate – don’t need Aussie currency here.’

“Don’t ruin your trip with paranoia – just exercise sensible basic precautions.”

More Coverage

rome tourist scams

According to Cover-More, other common travel scams in Bali include taxi drivers and monkey thieves at popular temples.

“Don’t negotiate fares with unofficial taxi drivers as they may use tactics like a broken metre, take a longer route, or charge far above the going rate. Take a reputable, official taxi instead,” Cover-More advises.

Currency exchange scams are also common with Cover-More advising to be aware of “official” looking money exchanges that will advertise a great rate, but offer the wrong change, miscount your money or handover invalid banknotes.

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rome tourist scams

10 Common Scams in Rome

...and how to avoid them.

These common scams in Rome can make your trip to the so-called 'Eternal City' eternally memorable... and not in a good way. Rome is one of the most visited cities on the entire planet. It’s only natural that it also attracts a few fraudulent folks performing petty crimes for a fast buck.

With a bit of insight, you can avoid falling victim to most of these known shady practices. Most are carried out in broad daylight and can sometimes turn into a battle of wits. The more aware you are of how these scammers play their game, the higher your chances of winning. It's best to acquaint yourself with these known scams in Rome, and how to avoid them altogether.

Bus 64: The Pickpocket Express

rome tourist scams

Despite servicing one of the most useful routes within the city centre, many wallets have disappeared from visitors’ pockets on this bus ride. It shuttles regularly between St. Peter's Square and Termini Station, with frequent stops in between. Throngs get on at each stop, and it’s easy to lose sight and sense of your belongings in a cramped-up situation. Getting off is the tricky part. Scuffling helps disguise any swift acts of thievery faster than you can say, “Arrivederci!”

How to avoid: Wear a money belt instead and carry less loose belongings with you. The tourist-friendly hop-on hop-off sightseeing buses are a safer, but more expensive, alternative. 

rome tourist scams

If you realise your wallet (or credit card, passport, etc.) is missing, immediately report to your bank and cancel your credit card. Thieves might try to trick you out of your personal information. They might call you, posing as your bank, to “assist” while phishing your card details. Random scammers might even call your hotel room acting as the front desk, to “confirm” your credit card details. 

How to avoid: Never give out personal info, including credit card details over the phone. 

rome tourist scams

Monti in Rome

rome tourist scams

Teatrino di Pulcinella al Gianicolo in Rome

rome tourist scams

San Lorenzo in Rome

Friendly but "lost” drivers asking for petrol money.

rome tourist scams

This classic scenario usually begins with you crossing paths with a dapper gentleman who looks slightly confused, saying he’s from out of town and figuring out where he is. If you get acquainted, he’ll claim to be working for a big brand Italian designer house, and show you some of the samples in his car. He’ll then hand you a watch, suede jacket or bag as a gift, because you’ve just become “friends”. Next: his fuel gauge is “near-empty” and he ran out of cash – asking if you could spare some in return, more than the real value of those knock-off items. 

How to avoid: Meeting locals and making friends is great, but don't forget your common sense.

Fake charity petitions

rome tourist scams

When walking down a bustling Roman street near a famous site, you might be approached by a “deaf and mute” person with a seemingly legit charity petition to sign. He or she then asks for a “generous” donation. In worst cases, they work together with their pickpocketing friends in crowded places.

How to avoid: Hold on to your precious euros. A stern “no” usually works. 

Fake polizia

rome tourist scams

These fraudsters sometimes pose as plainclothes police officers, most of the time in uniform. They also usually work in pairs for that extra effect when they come up to you for an impromptu “security check”. They’ll ask you to open your bag and ultimately your passport and wallet, either for personal info or just a few of your euro bills. 

How to avoid: Never hand over your belongings in public. Ask to be checked at the nearest police station. 

'Friendly' local drinking buddies

rome tourist scams

A few shady bars and some clubs in Rome target tourists and add extra charges to the bill – up to €1,000 or more in the worst cases. Thankfully, these places are rare. Touts operate around Rome’s popular spots, giving away such things as “free tickets” to clubs and advertising live shows targeted towards guys. Others do the “local friend” approach, along the lines of, “Hey, I know this cool place.” It’s probably not that cool.

How to avoid: Don’t get too acquainted. Tell them you have other fixed plans. You can also try asking for a different spot you probably know – see how adamant they can be of their chosen “cool place”.

Friendship bracelets

rome tourist scams

If a smiling stranger says "hi" and either places a colourful thread on your shoulder or forces a small souvenir of some sort in your hand, insisting that it’s a gift, it's not. If you don’t assertively refuse after a few attempts, more friendly chatter ensues while swiftly showing you how a friendship bracelet is made, right on your wrist. They then claim to be out of cash and ask you for a generous price in return for the gift. It’s a slight hassle to take off. Sometimes, it’s also another form of distraction for accomplices targeting your back pockets. 

How to avoid: Simply refuse, say “no thanks” up front and don’t let them hand you anything. Shrug off anything placed on your shoulder. 

rome tourist scams

Taxi fares are normally clearly shown on the side of taxis, inclusive of luggage and all extra charges. But unscrupulous drivers – especially at airports and train stations – may try to milk out more euros from travel-worn passengers whenever they can. Tricks range from giving back the wrong amount of change, to meters switched to pricier weekend rates for weekday rides.

How to avoid: Have small cash ready for the fare. Only take the official white Roma Capitale taxis. Rather than flagging one down, find a taxi stand available at most of the popular sites such as near the Trevi Fountain or the Colosseum, one of the points of greatest interest and with a very particular hotel offering . Also, ask about the different meter readings if they confuse you. 

Tour package touts

rome tourist scams

You’ll come across plenty of touts around the Vatican offering tour packages. They’re usually more expensive than the normal price, and feature good packaged deals ranging from skipping the lines to having tea with the Pope. Some even offer “guided” tours, only to have you entering the site like regular visitors – after several hours of waiting in line. Inside, some spots might as well be off limits to what you were sold. 

How to avoid: Try to pre-book your visits or just avoid these people in the normal queues (some days it might not be that long). 

Overpriced, under-flavoured touristy restaurants

rome tourist scams

Like in any part of the world, almost every restaurant or café near Rome’s major tourist sites are… touristy with a tendency of being overpriced. Walk a slight distance away and you’ll find humble and homey (sometimes unnamed) local spots with cheaper and well-seasoned menu items. In any case, your bill should be itemized, and in the event of suspicious overcharging or showing items that you never ordered, you can politely ask them to fix it.

How to avoid: Touristy restaurants in Rome usually have waiting staff near the entrance to usher you in, or flaunting their clearly named “Tourist Menu” with items in English.

This article includes opinions of the Go Guides editorial team. Hotels.com compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site; such compensation may include travel and other costs.

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Taylor Swift fans lose £1m in scams, Lloyds Bank estimates

  • Oops! Something went wrong. Please try again later. More content below

Taylor Swift fans have lost an estimated £1m in ticket scams ahead of the UK leg of her Eras tour, according to a report by Lloyds Bank.

The bank said more than 600 of its customers had come forward to report being scammed, losing an average of £332 each - with some losing £1,000.

It added that 90% of the reported ticket scams started on Facebook.

There has been huge demand for tickets to see the superstar when she performs in the UK in June and August.

'It's horrible - you just feel helpless'

When Karen Elrick's Facebook account was hacked in December, scammers started impersonating her, posting messages offering Taylor Swift tickets for sale.

Several friends fell foul of the trick, transferring about £750 each - before discovering the ads weren't real and the tickets didn't exist.

"I know of at least three, but I think the police said there were four that have actually bought the tickets," says the 38-year-old from Glasgow. "And I think as soon as the money's gone through, they're then just blocked on the Facebook account."

The police have made little progress and Facebook have not removed the account, despite multiple requests, she says.

The scammers regularly post similar messages, leaving them up for about a day before removing them so they are no longer there if Facebook investigates.

"It's horrible," she says. "You just feel very helpless because it's friends of yours that are losing money. They obviously realise quite quickly it's not me that's stealing from them, but it's just not a nice feeling.

"It's totally out of my control and there doesn't seem to be anything that anyone can help with. Nobody seems to be able to do anything."

She adds: "If you see Taylor Swift tickets on Facebook, it's likely a scam."

Lloyds said there were significantly more ticket scam reports relating to Swift than any other artist.

If other banks have similar figures, there are likely to have been at least 3,000 victims across the UK, it said.

How to spot and avoid a scam

Do some research on the company you're buying from and only purchase tickets from the venue, the promoter (such as Live Nation), an official agent (such as Ticketmaster) or a well-known and reputable ticket exchange site

Search engines such as Google aren't always the best place to look, as unauthorised ticket resellers can buy their way to the top of listings with ads

Look out for the STAR logo - that means the vendor is a member of Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers and signals company has signed up to strict governing standards

Avoid paying for tickets by bank transfer, especially if buying from someone unknown. Credit card or payment services such as PayPal give you a better chance of recovering the money if you become a victim of fraud

Be wary of unsolicited emails, texts or adverts offering unbelievably good deals on tickets - it's more than likely that such offers are too good to be true

All UK dates for Swift's Eras tour are sold out, which has prompted some fans who did not get tickets through official channels to look elsewhere.

Liz Ziegler, fraud prevention director at Lloyds Bank, said: "Cruel fraudsters have wasted no time in targeting her most loyal fans as they rush to pick up tickets for her must-see concerts."

She added: "It's easy to let our emotions get the better of us when we find out our favourite artist is going to be performing live, but it's important not to let those feelings cloud our judgement when trying to get hold of tickets.

"Buying directly from reputable, authorised platforms is the only way to guarantee you're paying for a genuine ticket. Even then, always pay by debit or credit card for the greatest protection.

"If you're being asked to pay by bank transfer, particularly from a seller you've found on social media, that should immediately set alarm bells ringing."

Taylor Swift superfans caught in £250 ticket scam

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Lloyds said it was also aware of a larger number of scam cases involving major concerts, with the number rising by 158% in 2023 compared with the previous year.

Other major artists commonly targeted last summer included Coldplay, Harry Styles, and Beyonce. Across all concert ticket scams, victims were losing £133 on average.

The bank said purchase scams happen when someone is tricked into sending money via bank transfer to buy goods or services that don't exist.

Ticket scams usually involve fake adverts, posts or listings on social media, offering tickets at discounted prices, or access to events which have already sold out at inflated prices.

Victims are asked to pay upfront for the tickets, but once the payment is made, the scammers disappear. This leaves the both buyer without the tickets and out of pocket.

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IMAGES

  1. 5 Tourist Traps / SCAMS in ROME, ITALY

    rome tourist scams

  2. TOURIST TRAPS & SCAMS IN ROME

    rome tourist scams

  3. 10 Common Scams in Rome

    rome tourist scams

  4. 10 Common Scams in Rome

    rome tourist scams

  5. 10 Common Scams to Watch Out For in Rome

    rome tourist scams

  6. 10 Common Scams to Watch Out For in Rome

    rome tourist scams

VIDEO

  1. 😱 TOURISTS ARE GETTING SCAMED IN ROME! Don’t fall for this typical scam in Rome!

  2. Rome common Scam

  3. 🤢Don't fall for this SCAM in ROME #shorts

  4. Scam on the Spanish Steps

  5. Top 10 tips when visiting Rome, Italy!

  6. Trolling Petition Scammers "I'm A Kenyan Hockey Player " 🇮🇹 Rome

COMMENTS

  1. Common Tourist Scams in Rome, Italy

    6. Fake taxi drivers. Tourists in Rome are often targeted by scammers who pretend to be taxi drivers and overcharge them. This is known as the fake taxi driver scam. Fake taxi drivers target tourists at transportation hubs or popular tourist spots, luring them with offers of transportation to their desired location.

  2. 10 Common Scams in Rome

    Fake polizia. 'Friendly' local drinking buddies. Friendship bracelets. Taxi scams. Tour package touts. Overpriced, under-flavored touristy restaurants. These common scams in Rome can make your trip to the so-called 'Eternal City' eternally memorable... and not in a good way. Rome is one of the most visited cities on the entire planet.

  3. Rome Tourist Traps and Scams (Things To Avoid in Rome)

    Rome welcomes upwards of 10 million tourists every year, so there will be some things to watch out for. Scams and tourist traps are prominent in every major city as they have a large audience of scammers. I want to give you a list of some common traps that might give you a poor impression of the beautiful city of Rome.

  4. 10 Worst Scams And Pickpockets In Rome To Be Aware Of

    Route 64 Pickpockets in Rome. Route 64 is the route taken by a bus that begins in Termini and leads all the way to near the Vatican. It's typically a very crowded bus and also typically used by tourists, as it passes by many interesting sights along the way. Because of this, it's also used by pickpockets in Rome.

  5. 10 scams in Rome and how to avoid them

    Here are some of the most common scams going on in Rome. Photo by Cliff Bielawski. 1. The glamorous man. You've got to hand it to Rome: nowhere else in the world are the scammers so well dressed. This scam involves a glamorous man (or woman) who pulls up next to you in his car.

  6. Stay Safe in Rome: Unmasking the Top Tourist Scams

    It is probably an attempt at pickpocketing that has gone wrong. The most famous variation of this is the Centurion scam, where fake re-enactors offer to take a selfie with you, only to demand an exaggerated amount of money to give you back your phone. Needless to say, these are not re-enactors, nor are they employed by the City of Rome.

  7. Rome Scams 2024 Guide (Here Is How to Avoid Scams In Rome)

    beautiful_rome. The first rule about Rome scams is simple: remember to enjoy your time in this beautiful city. While it's crucial to stay vigilant, there's no need to be overly paranoid (not everyone is after your coin). Tip - Our guide aims to help you have a safe and enjoyable trip without casting a shadow over your Roman holiday.

  8. Scams to Avoid on Your Trip to Rome

    Like many other large cities around the world, Rome is well known for being a tourist hub, which has also designated it as an easy access point for scammers to target unknowing victims. This guide will definitely help you prepare for a safe and enjoyable trip by learning how to recognize and avoid some of the most common schemes.

  9. Scams to avoid when visiting Rome

    Here are the most common scams to avoid in Rome: Bracelets and roses "as a gift": You may encounter street vendors, especially around popular tourist attractions, offering various items like souvenirs, flowers, or bracelets. Be cautious, as some of these vendors can be persistent or even aggressive in their sales tactics.

  10. Travel Guide to Avoiding Scams in Rome: Tourist Traps & Tricks

    Explore a travel guide focused on avoiding scams, tourist traps, and tricks in Rome for a hassle-free experience along with essential advice and safety tips for exploring and things tourists should know and plan for before their trip if it is their first time visiting Italy or Europe in general. 0.

  11. What are some common tourist scams in Italy and how can I avoid them

    Italy, with its rich history, stunning landscapes, and mouth-watering cuisine, attracts millions of visitors every year. However, like many popular destinations, it has its share of tourist traps and scams. Being aware of these can make the difference between a trip filled with beautiful memories and an experience marred by…

  12. How to avoid tourist scams in Rome , Italy in 2022

    Here is how to avoid tourist scams in Rome , Italy in 2022. While this article will highlight the main tourist scams that tend to occur in Rome , I highly suggest you watch a documentary on Netflix about tourist scams called "Scam City" . Picture Scam One popular scam in Rome , Italy is when a local asks you to take their picture.

  13. Scams to avoid when visiting Rome

    With a large number of visitors in Rome each month, there are always some business owners, hawkers and petty criminals keen to exploit foreigners' naivety for financial gain. ... While most people and businesses are honest and welcoming to tourists, there are a few scams to look out for during your stay in the Eternal City. Tourist-only ...

  14. 6 Common Travel Scams Travelers Should Know in Italy

    Here are some of the most common to keep in mind, while remembering the best way to avoid being scammed is to follow your instincts: offers or overtures that would seem dodgy back home, are rarely to be trusted in Italy either. Overcharging in Italy. The fashion scam. Transport traps. Jewelry scam.

  15. 10 Tourist Scams You Might Face in Rome

    Based on my time in the city, I have shared the top 10 tourist scams in Rome. Without further ado, quickly scan through to avoid falling victim to them. 1. Pickpocket in Rome's Route 64. Undoubtedly, pickpocketing is one of the most common scams in Rome. It can happen anywhere in the city.

  16. 7 Rome tourist traps to look out for

    Here's how you can skip tourist traps and common tourist mistakes for the best time in Rome. 1. Be wary of being asked to pay at churches. Image: Sven S / Tripadvisor. There are lots of churches and cathedrals in Rome, each boasting beautifully ornate architecture—and most of which are free to enter.

  17. Scams and pickpockets in Rome! How to protect yourself from pickpockets

    Don't let tourist scams discourage you from visiting Rome, but always keep a watchful eye. A healthy suspicion can sometimes be very helpful. Pickpocket in Rome: Don't fall for these scams in Rome 1. The jacket trick - Typical tourist trap in Rome! The so-called "jacket trick" in Rome can be observed over and over again. A car stops ...

  18. Episode #159: Popular Tourist Scams in Italy (And How to Avoid Them)

    Tips to avoid taxi scams. DO NOT hail taxis as this is not really standard practice in Italy so they'll know you're a tourist; Book transfers or use taxi booking apps that work like Uber (standard Uber is not available in Italy, only the premium Uber black service) such as FreeNow in Rome and Naples and AppTaxi in Florence - everything is tracked so you're less likely to be ripped off

  19. 13 BIG scams to avoid in Italy

    Order a normal cappuccino in Italy — scams to avoid in Italy. I first covered this point in '25 mistakes to avoid in Italy', but it bears repeating. In 2019, a group of tourists paid €81 ($88.58/£66.93) for their meal in a cafe near St. Peter's Basilica.On the surface, their meal of 2 hamburgers, 2 double Americanos and 2 double cappuccinos didn't seem that unusual.

  20. Tourist Scams and Rip-Offs in Europe by Rick Steves

    Europe is a surprisingly creative place when it comes to travel scams. Many of the most successful gambits require a naive and trusting tourist. But it can happen to more sophisticated travelers, too. ... Florence, and Rome. Groups of kids with big eyes, troubled expressions, and colorful raggedy clothes politely mob unsuspecting tourists. As ...

  21. r/rome on Reddit: What are possible tourist scams I should be aware of

    The subreddit for the city of Rome, ancient and modern, including Vatican City, and seagulls. For general travel enquiries please visit /r/italytravel. For topics to do with the wider ancient Roman republic/empire, please post in /r/ancientrome. ... What are possible tourist scams I should be aware of and things I should not do? General saftey ...

  22. Tourist Police for Restaurant Scams?

    Re: Tourist Police for Restaurant Scams? 2 years ago. Save. When I was in Rome in November, the taxi fare from FCO airport to the historic center had just risen to 50 euros. However, easily half (if not more) of the taxis still had the information on the side which read 48 euros -- the old price.

  23. Tourists warned about big Bali scam

    A tourist showed a skimming device on an ATM in Rome in a TikTok. Picture: TikTok/sheerinproblems Tourists, including those in Bali, have been warned about the scam.

  24. Italy regulator orders Ryanair to stop curbing ticket sales by travel

    Italy's antitrust regulator ordered Ryanair on Monday to stop limiting or blocking the sale of its flight tickets by travel agencies, as it probes the Irish budget carrier's possible abuse of its ...

  25. 10 Common Scams in Rome

    Fake charity petitions. Fake polizia. 'Friendly' local drinking buddies. Friendship bracelets. Taxi scams. Tour package touts. Overpriced, under-flavoured touristy restaurants. These common scams in Rome can make your trip to the so-called 'Eternal City' eternally memorable... and not in a good way. Rome is one of the most visited cities on the ...

  26. Taylor Swift fans lose £1m in scams, Lloyds Bank estimates

    Taylor Swift superfans caught in £250 ticket scam 'Off-the-scale' demand fuelling gig ticket scams. Club backs 'Taylor Swift tax' to help small venues. Lloyds said it was also aware of a larger number of scam cases involving major concerts, with the number rising by 158% in 2023 compared with the previous year.