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‘Don’t fall for common tourist scams’ sweeping London

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The busiest city in the UK, London attracts around 30 million visitors from around the world every year – including millions of Britons heading to the capital from other parts of the country. It’s perhaps no surprise then, that amid the hustle and bustle opportunists have found ways to try and scam unwitting visitors exploring the capital.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Jessica Dante, travel expert and founder of Love and London shared some of the most common scams targeting tourists in the city.

Regardless of whether you’re visiting the capital from overseas or from another part of the UK, Jessica urges visits to “learn how to spot scams” and “stay alert”.

Don’t buy tickets off the street

“It can be frustrating if you arrive at a new city and haven’t been able to get tickets for an attraction or a theatre show you really want to see,” said Jessica. “However, don’t be tempted to buy tickets from anyone on the street.”

Ticket touting is not a new thing, but it’s something Jessica urges tourists to be aware of. In many cases, you could end up paying far more than the actual price of a ticket.

In recent years, ticket touting has typically targeted big events such as concerts. According to All About Law: “The secondary ticket market is worth over £1 billion a year but remains controversial. One of the key reasons for this is that professional touts can ‘harvest’ tickets, restricting supply and meaning that genuine fans have to pay over the odds to see their favourite artists.”

However, it isn’t just concerts which are susceptible to this kind of behaviour. Jessica explained: “If someone approaches you claiming to sell event or theatre tickets, especially in busy tourist areas like Leicester Square, for example, avoid them at all costs.

“These people are often out to scam you by selling fake tickets that will be useless to you. Always buy tickets from reputable companies such as the venue’s official website or established ticket vendors like TodayTix.

“While many street sellers might seem trustworthy, the dodgy deals usually come from these street vendors.”

Not all ticket scams are obvious, with some street sellers appearing professional, but it’s always best practice to go straight to a reputable source – no matter how good a deal sounds.

“Going directly to the provider is advisable if you need help post-purchase too,” added Jessica. “For example, if you need to cancel or change your plans they will be more inclined to help, whereas third-party providers tend to disappear after they have your money.”

Watch out paying for attractions that are actually free

In the same vein as ticket touting, Jessica says she has even witnessed people selling tickets to unsuspecting tourists for events that are actually free. “When you’re planning your trip to popular spots, it’s important to double-check which ones are truly free,” she said.

“Many places offer amazing experiences at no cost, but some people might try to sell ‘tickets’ for these free events to unsuspecting tourists. Don’t fall for it! Never pay anyone for access to free attractions.”

While some free attractions are tickets, such as some of London’s museums, these are typically just for timed slots to monitor the flow of traffic. Usually, you can find all the information you need and get any necessary tickets online through the official event or venue websites.

However, in some cases, you can simply show up on the day. Jessica explained: “For instance, events like the Changing of the Guard Ceremony in London are completely free and don’t require any tickets, so you can attend without paying a dime. But you will be surprised at how many of those [scams] I see.”

Don’t fall for the ‘newspaper scam’

Another common scam which Jessica has witnessed can see people pickpocketed in broad daylight.

Jessica explained: “In London, tourists need to be aware of the clipboard or newspaper scam, where thieves distract you with friendly conversation before covering your valuables with a newspaper or clipboard and stealing them when they leave.”

Though there will always be opportunistic thieves around, staying alert and learning how to spot scams is one of the best ways to protect yourself – whether in London or abroad.

“Being up to speed on the techniques and tactics used in certain cities will be enough to help you stay alert and reduce the risk of becoming their next scam victim,” added Jessica.

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