While you are in Athens, it is important to be aware of the common scams that locals use to trick unwitting tourists out of their money. While Athens is a generally safe city, like any European tourist locale it will have its share of scammers. These annoying tricksters don’t have to detract from your enjoyment of this gorgeous historical Greek city, as long as you know what to avoid.
The most important thing to remember is to follow your gut instinct. If someone you are talking to gives you a suspicious impression that they are not being straight-forward with you, listen to that feeling and get yourself out of the situation. Here are some of the common tourist scams in Athens:
The Friendly Stranger Bar Scam
This scam starts with someone stopping you to ask for directions. While you are chatting, two other guys will come up with fake badges and pretend to be police. They will accuse you of buying drugs from the first man and ask you for your passport and wallet for identification, and while you are panicking and trying to convince them that you are not buying drugs, they will steal money from your wallet.
If this happens to you, stay calm and don’t hand over your wallet or passport. Tell the “police officers” that you have been warned of fake police scamming people in the area and tell them that you will be happy to show your ID if they would be so kind to take you to their police car or to the station to prove that they are real. If they start to lead you down a back alley or somewhere unsafe, obviously use your instincts and don’t follow.
Pickpocket Gangs Operating Buses
A popular scam is conducted within tourist buses, especially the Airport Express Bus in Piraeus. The group of pickpockets pose as travellers, and divide into two. The first half goes on board and stops in the aisle to cause a traffic jam of passengers. The other half stays outside, offering to help the passengers to load their bags onto the bus. Just before the bus leaves, the group all quickly gets off and dispersed. The bus passengers soon realize that while they were being “helped” they were actually being pick-pocketed.
Keep your hands on your bags and pockets at all times, and split all of your documents, cards and money into different places. You might want to consider carrying your passport and your cash on a money belt underneath your clothing.
The Beautiful Girl Scam
If you are walking along the street in Athens and a man approaches you asking if you want to come to a cafe or bar and meet his beautiful female cousin, be wary. You will go to the bar and be introduced to the girl, and when you buy her a drink you will be charged a ridiculous amount for it. When you dispute the bill, the men in the bar will threaten you with violence to convince you to cough up the cash. In this situation, just say no in the first place.
Being aware of these scams will help you avoid them and make your trip to Athens safer and more enjoyable.