Don’t fall for the ‘falling lady’ scam on escalators

(WGN Radio) – There’s a chance that lady taking a tumble in a crowded place isn’t so helpless, travel experts are warning. The commotion could be part of a scam travelers encounter at airports, train stations, and tourist attractions.

“If there’s any crowd, or something jostling, or someone spills ketchup on you, or there’s a commotion, all these thieves are trying to distract you,” travel blogger and influencer Johnny Jet explained.

One such scam involves a person – sometimes a person dressed as an elderly woman – pretending to fall down an escalator, Jet said. As bystanders rush to help, their pockets are emptied of phones and wallets, and handed to accomplices riding the escalator in the other direction.

If you see someone fall down an escalator, the stairs, or anywhere else, you don’t have to be completely cold-hearted to avoid being scammed. Just take a split second to make sure you know where your belongings are before jumping into action.

“Stand back, guard your valuables, then carefully move in to help,” said Jet, echoing advice from travel writer Rick Steves.

You can listen to Johnny Jet‘s full interview with WGN Radio in the audio player below.

“Unfortunately there are so many scams, honestly it’s hard to keep up,” Jet said.

Another common scam targeting tourists, according to Rick Steves, is the “friendship bracelet” scam. A vendor comes up and starts tying a bracelet on you while chatting you up, then demands you pay for the product. Because it’s hard to remove a bracelet that’s been tied on your wrist, you may be tempted to pay up just to get out of the situation.

Another one – which Johnny Jet admits once tricked him and a group of his friends while visiting Budapest, Hungary – occurs when some good-looking locals invite you to grab a drink. The scam in this case is served with the bill. A round of drinks ends up costing several hundred dollars, and a muscled bouncer intimidates you into paying up.

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