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Camera Scam

I have read about people offering to talk pictures of couples on their camera - then, after the picture is taken, they request payment of $100 or more & hold the camera ransom.

We have not had a loss from this, but it makes one wonder how long it will be until the Europeans catch on to this scam.

I read about this happening in Hawaii. Last month when we were visiting Oahu I saw many times where people turned over their cameras to let others take their photo in Paradise. No, I did not see the scam take place, but understand how it could easily happen.

Just back from Rick's sold out talk in Houston on March 5, 2015 about the differences between American and European cultures. Many points to ponder. Guess they'll need to find a larger venue next time, but the cathedral seemed pretty big to sell all seats.

Posted by
16771 posts

I usually feel pretty secure if I choose whom I ask to take my photo. In my experience around Europe, it has been more common for the camera owner to ask than for others to step in and offer their services. You may be a bit wary of people who volunteer too readily or pushily.

Posted by
9363 posts

I have never heard of this. But I frequently offer to take a group picture of someone if I see someone taking a picture of their family, for example. The most memorable times were in China, where I didn't even speak the language. On the Great Wall there was an elderly woman taking a picture of her husband, and I offered, through a lot of gesturing and smiling, to take their picture together. She smiled and handed me her camera. Afterward, her husband insisted on taking my picture for me (I was alone). It's blurry and off-center, but it's one of my favorites. I have had people refuse when I offered, too, in the US. But abroad, I have traded picture-taking with other women, families, couples, etc. In Dublin once, I asked a man to take my picture near a statue and he did so, but didn't want one of himself. Maybe they don't worry too much about me because they could easily outrun or overpower me. :)

Posted by
8906 posts

In the Big Apple's Times Square, folks dressed in super-hero and Disney character costumes will hold your children hostage unless you hand over ten bucks. So it's not a stretch to see this expanding to cameras and smartphones;)

Posted by
1818 posts

We experience something like this in Maidan Square, Kyiv a couple years ago. Some young people, as it turned out, were dressed in Disney costumes offering to take pictures of tourists. Then we could pose with them. Then, after dancing around and acting silly like Disney characters they tried to extract money. "ATMs, okay" "Over there". My wife told Donald Duck if he wanted money he should have told us before the whole act started. He insisted. My wife put all the Ukranian coins she had in his hand and told him to take it or leave it. He took it and grumbled something in Ukranian. That was the only time in six weeks in Ukraine someone tried to scam us, and he had the rotten luck of running into my wife.

Posted by
30971 posts

I've never heard of this scam, but I'm not surprised. If holding a tourist's camera for ransom, there would considerable incentive to get it back as failure to pay would result in not only the loss of the camera but also all the irreplaceable holiday photos on the memory card.

I've been asked to take photos of other tourists many times during my travels, using everything from P&S cameras to iPads to iPhones. I suppose they figure that someone carrying a lot of camera gear is a "safe" prospect. They're usually willing to reciprocate and so far I've had no problems with that approach. However, I'm very particular about who I'll hand my camera to (especially the DSLR), so I don't often ask people to take photos of me, unless it's another member of a tour group (that's what self timers are for).

Posted by
4500 posts

I'm with the others - I'll ask other people that are obviously tourists with nice cameras (since I figure they might know how to take a decent photo). I have a nice camera so people often ask me and I am usually happy to do so. If someone just came up to me randomly and offered, I'd likely politely say no and if they were pushy would know they weren't just trying "to be helpful."

Posted by
2766 posts

I have lived on Oahu in Hawaii most of the year for 14 years now and have never heard of this happening here. I often offer to take a picture when I see a couple taking a picture of each other or one family member taking a picture of the rest of the family. My offer is accepted at least 90% of the time by mainlanders but only about 50% by Asians and that lower acceptance rate might be to a language problem. In Europe, 12 of the last 13 summers, we have asked tourists looking folks of medium or older ages to take a picture of my wife and I and have never been turned down nor had any problems. Knock on wood. aloha charlie

Posted by
507 posts

Here is a different type of camera scam.

The Broken Camera
Someone will ask you to take a photo of them and their group of friends.The camera won’t work, and when you go to hand it back to them, they will drop it and cause it to smash! The entire group will then demand money for repairs, or pickpocket you during the commontion.

Common in:
Worldwide

As to the original scam, I have not come across it. Like the other posters I usually ask someone taking pictures like I am to take a pic of my family & me.

Posted by
4472 posts

Well I am just sad for the people who turn down my offers to take pictures of their whole group. Ultimately it is their loss, not mine. I haven't stopped offering though even after one person was gratuitously rude to me directly accusing me of wanting to steal his camera. Maybe they read too much about 'scams'.

Posted by
8293 posts

Some call it camera scam, others call it camera paranoia.

Posted by
4078 posts

On a visit to Plitvice lakes, a family asked me to take their photo. As I took a step back, I stumbled on lose gravel and dropped their camera right into the lake. It was fished out and, to make a long story short, all ended well. Needless to say, I don't take photos anymore!

Posted by
10264 posts

Reminds me of the scene in the Chevy Chase film.

Posted by
507 posts

Emily,

Once everyone knew you were OK, were they (esp you) able to laugh at the incident? Yes, I am off topic.

:-)

Posted by
11613 posts

I often offer to take photos of people or groups, and like Nancy, the people seem less reluctant once they realize I can't outrun them. Selfies are making this fairly obsolete, though.

Posted by
2347 posts

I wonder if people holding their phones 4 feet away on a selfie stick get their phones stolen?

Posted by
1761 posts

I wonder if people holding their phones 4 feet away on a selfie stick get their phones stolen?

I hope so.

Posted by
840 posts

I have to laugh--several years ago I was on the RS Rome tour and I watched a honeymoon couple in our tour group struggling to take a selfie with a 35 mm point and shoot. This was before iPhones were ubiquitous. After a few seconds I asked if they like me to take the photo for them. It was like I'd suggested some radical concept. :) They happily accepted. We were on tour together--not like I was going to snatch the camera, but I think it's interesting that they didn't think to ask one of us to take it. Then again, some folks like the whole cute look of a couple selfie, I suppose!

Posted by
17659 posts

"Reminds me of the scene in the Chevy Chase film."

Kent, it was European vacation, but let's not go there (the film, I mean, not Europe).

Posted by
10264 posts

Talking about selfies, the selfie telescoping poles are all over Paris.
I guess I haven't been keeping up with selfie technology, having reached the point where the last thing I want to see is a selfie.

Posted by
30971 posts

From what I've heard, the street vendors have graduated from selling cheap umbrellas and sunglasses to selling Selfie Sticks. That will be another annoyance for tourists to deal with. Thankfully, Selfie Sticks are banned at many Museums and similar sites.

Posted by
2046 posts

Lost count of how many times we were all but knocked over by people with selfie sticks at Keukenhof last month, extended several feet, and totally unaware of anyone near them.

Posted by
2347 posts

I'd suggest acting like you just got hit by one. See pro soccer or basketball players if you need guidance for how to act like you're hurt when you're not.

I was on a Paris Illuminations bus tour once. (Btw-I don't recommend it.) The woman across the aisle leaned across my daughter and me to take a flash picture out of our window. Rude, and also, stupid. When she did it a second time, I held my eyes and hollered and acted like I'd been blinded. She didn't do it again.

Posted by
1761 posts

When I choose someone to ask to take our picture, I always make sure it is someone I can run faster than.

Posted by
2046 posts

We did chastise some who practically ran us over. Blank stares, deaf ears. Like the late teenager who blissfully turned onto my street on a run this week, buds in her ears, oblivious to the car coming from her right that pulled up one foot short. And could not understand why we then stopped her and railed at her.