8 online & travel scams and how to avoid them

Hi! I’m Alina and just like me, you can travel too! Now give me [insert amount of money] to tell you how to follow your dreams.

Beginning of the year is always gonna be the season to feel inspired, to dream bigger, to.. GET TRICKED. What on Earth is all this ish I keep seeing all over the internet?! Please wake up and stop spending your savings on people telling you.. you can do it. Because YOU CAN DO IT! There, I saved you some bucks, feel free to come back to read this every time you have any doubts.

Seriously now, the internet is a very useful tool (notice how I said tool, not lifestyle?!) but there are oh, so many ways it can trick you. We all know at least one person who got tricked into believing some ish that made literally no difference in their life (or anyone else’s). On top of that they lost money, or their time. And I know what I am talking about because I got tricked too. So without further ado let me give you some tips on how to avoid people deceiving you online or offline.

1. PAID volunteering program
And by that I mean the volunteer needs to pay. I am not even talking about the well known websites where you need to pay a membership fee to be able to get access to their database, but about the ones that ask for a huge amount of money (sometimes even more than $1000/month) for joining their volunteering program.

This is an easy one to avoid: do not accept a volunteer role when you have to pay for everything – from means of transportation to accommodation.

2. Masterclass for learning how to use your mobile phone – taking videos or pics

No, really tell me why would you pay someone to tell you how to take a video of yourself in your room with the promise you will become famous. Give me one reason. I’ll wait.

3. Visa procedures

This is a tricky one since some scammers are really looking like professional. Just know this: you should ALWAYS go directly to the official page you want to apply to or maybe hire a lawyer if the paperwork is too complicated.

4. Fake digital nomads/online influencers

Not everyone calling themselves digital nomads, actually are. Same with online influencer. Not sorry for bursting your bubble, but there is no easy way of making money. For those who actually are making a living just by being a digital nomad, most of the time they have no actual free time. And no privacy – since they are always posting online. However, my concern is with those who are deceiving people by lying about “their” art. I kept finding news about instagram influencers who got caught with fake photos from their travels, or straight up stolen photos from other unknown artists. One of these guys actually held classes being promoted by a professional camera producer. And what I hate the most is they can all solve it by deleting their account. And then there are the others who just promote ish they do not even use/care about and not giving anything back to the culture they visit. I loved the comment on one of those online promos:

5. ANY paid (online) classes are actually going to teach you something

You should always double check if they are actually gonna teach you something before you pay for it or waste your time on it. And especially if you need a certificate at the end of it, you really need to check their certification and if it is approved by any kind of institution.

6. Booking through travelling agencies

It does not even matter if you get it online or offline, it is easy to get tricked with extra fees and/or booking different things than actual mentioned in the ad. It actually happened to me I booked my flight ticket from São Paulo to Montevideo through an online agency. Unfortunately I had a multiple city ticket and because of that, when one of the flights got cancelled, they cancelled all the other flights. One day before it got cancelled I called them to add an extra suitcase and I was charged on the spot by card. It took me 5 phone calls to get refunded for the plane ticket I booked, however I never got refunded for that extra luggage.

Please learn from my mistake and read even the smallest print or ask all the questions you might need when in their office.

7. Fake tickets or incredible plane ticket deals

Most common are the ones for events, people selling their tickets online because they can not attend the event anymore. Guess what? You won’t either, after buying the fake ticket. Same with some ads about great discount to travel in whatever-exotic country. Sometimes for that $50 discount you actually pay $200 more in fees.

Always check on at least other two well known websites to compare prices and offers.

8. Renting a car

I actually have a bit of a story here, because I was tricked big time.

I was in Argentina, last December, when I decided to join 3 guys in renting a car for one day to go see penguins. The rental was done by one of the guys with the hostel where we all stayed. Everything went well up until we came back. They checked the car, even though everything was fine during our 10 hour trip, the engine made a weird sound and a warning light kept on blinking. We went to sleep very upset only to find out in the morning, after they went to a car service shop, it’s the timing belt. They had a long argument about it, still the owner kept saying he gave us a good car and we gave him back a broken one. I know nothing about cars, but even I knew this was nothing to do with us. Few days later, he changed his mind and said we gave him the car with a flat tire. It was a non-sense and we could not prove anything since we were sure everyone was in on this. The guys even went to the police and were advised to not trust the people from the workshop. Still the owner of the hostel, the one we rented the car from, charged the credit card provided by one of the guys with about 1000 USD. You can imagine how upset I was. However, THREE months later the credit card company finally refunded the payment and we got our money back.
It goes without saying you should rent something only under a contract, but make sure that contract is an actual legit document not just a random printed paper.

Have you ever been the victim of a fraud? Can you easily spot scams and know how to avoid them? Join the conversation and share your experience.


2 thoughts on “8 online & travel scams and how to avoid them

  1. From my days of being an Admin/Moderator on a big internet SEO/website forum – I spent a lot of time vetting potential forum members by checking out their emails, websites, and general online history. You learn a lot about scammers by just looking at their Internet Footprints. Basically – if it walks like duck and sounds like a duck – there’s a good chance it’s going to be a duck 😉👍

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  2. Yes, Paul. That is true, sometimes it is very obvious. However other times people want to believe in the wrong kind of “miracles”. I wrote just about 8, but I already have in mind two more: give-aways and support for a cause.

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