While in Venice last week, there were 2 women dressed in long, colorful dresses, on stilts, in front of the water where you can see the islands, and the cruise ships dock. I know from this description you will think I did zero research, but our plan was mostly to just walk around Venice and ride a gondola, as we were only there for one full day, so please forgive these details :) Anyway, my husband saw these women and assumed they were street performers that at the most were looking for tips (he often travels to New Orleans for work). He took a picture of me with them in the background from about 20 feet away. Then the women beckoned us over and offered to be in the picture. Husband had a couple coins in his hand to give them as a tip. I was worried they might attempt to pickpocket, as the pose involved them holding my hands, so I was cautious of that, and not thinking of a possible set price for pictures. He snapped a couple pics, then they told us to switch. This whole exchange was under 60 seconds. My only thought then was that the picture with him in it might be funny. After this, he goes to offer them a coupe euros, and one of the women says it's 20 euros per picture. He immediately said he didn't know how much it was and that he didn't have the money. My thought then was that we were so stupid to not have asked beforehand. As I said, this all happened so quickly, and my husband got his wallet out thinking he could give them 20 and get out of there. Her demeanor had changed very fast, demanding "Italian money.. I make change". I know we sound very stupid in that we actually gave them the 40 euros, but in that moment I felt dumb that I had tried to research so many possible things that could go wrong on this trip, and fell into this trap. We both felt swindled and honestly almost sick walking away from the exchange. We had been so careful up to that point. A little ways down there were 2 more women dressed in the same way, so we asked them how much for a picture, and I swear the one said "two" so my husband replied that it was 20 with the other women, and then she said "yes, twenty" like we'd misheard her or it was due to a language barrier (like 2 means 20 in some language), but yeah we knew they just get however much they can out of anyone who falls for it. We didn't see any tourists with either set of women later in day when we walked by.
The other disappointing thing about this was that we had tried to plan out how much we needed from ATM to last the rest of trip before this day, as it was our last day touring. I know if sounds dramatic, but it did put a damper on the day. We did sidestep the petition and rose scams later in the day, on a better note.
We found out the next morning that a couple from our hotel forgot to validate bus tickets (that cost 3 euros each) and were charged 60 euros each! And another woman staying there had her purse stolen the same day, losing many cards, etc. So we felt bad for them but felt our luck could've been worse.
I just hope writing this out helps someone naive like we were to avoid these women. As some of my thoughts that day were "did I miss this on the Rick Steves forum?" follow-up thought "They are probably too smart to fall for this!" haha but hope if helps someone :)