boston tourist scams

Top Boston Tourist Scams Exposed and How To Avoid Them

Boston is a great city to visit. With its rich, college community, many describe it as being like living in a small town with all the perks of city life. There’s plenty of good restaurants, scenic views, and vibrant nightlife.

However, as with any metropolitan area, Boston has a dark side. There are scammers in the area that will target tourists because they think they will be naïve to city ways and therefore, more vulnerable. 

If you are planning on visiting Boston, it’s advisable to get familiar with the popular tourist scams. That way, you will know what to look out for. 

This article will clue you in on tourist scams in Boston and how to avoid them. 

Here Come the Fake Monks

Fake Monks are a common tourist scam in many cities and Boston is no exception. These people may be dressed like monks but that’s about as far as the association goes. 

They will give you beads or other cheap, small trinkets. They may put these beads directly in your hands, but they will expect money in return. If you don’t give them money, they will become very angry and they may even snatch the beads off your person. 

Some tourists may give them a couple of dollars, but if the fake monk doesn’t feel this donation is generous enough, they will also become irate. 

I Need One More Dollar

In major cities, it seems as if everyone has their hand out. Often beggars will approach you with very a very elaborate story. They may tell you that they just need one more dollar to get on the bus or they may say that they need to five dollars more to get gas.

These people may genuinely need money, but it’s unlikely their sob story is true. If you feel like making a donation, you are better off giving your money to someone who’s honest.

In fact, one investigator did a bit of research on a woman often seen begging on Boston streets. After her day of begging, he followed her to her townhouse and found out that her begging had made her millions over the years. 

Boston MBTA Scams

Let’s talk about the Boston MBTA Scam. If you are planning on riding the Charleston Inner Harbor Ferry, make sure you have the right type of transportation card. 

Even though the MBTA web site seems to indicate that the one-day Charlie card pass will cover inner harbor ferry rides, once you get there, you will find out that they only take the paper Charlie card passes. The plastic ones are not accepted because the scanners on the ferries cannot read them.

In general, find out about transport options and what cards are accepted where in advance. That way you can be sure you will never be left behind. 

Travel Agent Scams

Beware of travel agencies that are not reputable when booking your Boston vacation. Many travel agents will use your money and tell you they have made reservations that in fact don’t exist. 

Not only is this disappointing for people that are about to go on vacation, it is not uncommon for these fake travel agencies to steal thousands of dollars of their client’s hard-earned money. 

When booking your vacation, make sure you are working with a reputable agency and follow up on reservations if possible. Also, never wire money to pay for these services. Wiring money is similar to paying with cash. Once you make a payment, it is as good as gone. 

Front Desk Scams

This is a scam that happens to tourists right in their hotel rooms.

When in your hotel room, you will get a call from someone posing as the front desk personnel. They will tell you they had a problem with your credit card and ask you to confirm your billing information. Once they have this information, they will use it to make illegal purchases.

To prevent identity theft, never give your credit card information over a hotel phone. Double check with the front desk to find out if this is a legitimate request.

The Baseball Hat Scam

With the Boston Red Sox being such a popular baseball team, it is not uncommon for tourists to flock to the city to catch a game. But beware the baseball hat scam when you’re at the stadium.

These scammers wait outside the stadium and they will put a baseball hat on your head. They will then ask you for $20 which they claim will be going to a charitable cause. However, it’s highly likely this charitable cause does not exist at all. If it does, they probably have nothing to do with it. 

In these situations, it is best to take the hat off your head and decline to donate any money. 

Armani Suit Scam

With Boston being such a metropolitan city, there are plenty of conventions going on in town. Just make sure you don’t buy any fake Armani suits!

Often times, tourists are approached by a businessman (or woman) who asks you for directions. Once you give them the directions, they will offer to give you a discount Armani item of clothing in return for your kindness. They may also explain that they need to get on a plane soon and don’t want to take the clothing with them.

However, no matter how good the price is, these suits are probably not real and they may not even be worth what you pay for them. As tempting as the offer may seem, it is best to say thanks, but no thanks.

Final Thoughts

Boston is a terrific city to visit but be sure to look out for scammers who try to ruin your vacation. Hopefully, this article has given you the information you need to say safe. Good luck and have a great trip.