Four passport scams that could RUIN your holiday – are YOU prepared?

It s one of the most precious items in your suitcase, but do you really know just how many scams there are out there to try and relieve you of it? Every year, thousands of British tourists report their passports lost or stolen, so the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) have created a series of videos to make sure that you protect your passport. Around 20,000 passports were reported stolen last year and evidence suggests that many were taken by opportunistic thieves and pickpockets.

In this eye-opening video by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)1, James Freedman a fraud and crime expert shares the four most common scams and how to avoid being a victim of one of them.

Related articles

The imposter

The first scam James shows the viewer, is that of The Imposter who is hell bent on scamming two elderly ladies. James points out It s amazing what a fake badge and a little authority can do, as he introduces himself to the vulnerable tourists as a police officer. He asks them for identification, which in this case is their passport which he promptly hands to a second party, aka his accomplice.

And as easy as that, both parties have liberated the holidaymakers from their passports.

Four Passport Scams That Could RUIN Your Holiday – Are YOU Prepared?You Tube FCO Travel Advice

James Freedman shares his top tips to avoid scams on holiday

The clean-up

Next, James shares a shifty scam that leaves you filthy as well as without a passport. After making a mess on the back of the unsuspecting man s suit, James taps him to indicate that he s been the victim of a bird poo attack, and offers to help him clean it up. But while the con artist helps the gentleman out of his jacket to wipe the mess down, he also nabs his passport nimbly.

Beware of people offering to help clean up imaginary mess, or mess they have made as an opportunity to pick-pocket you.

Four Passport Scams That Could RUIN Your Holiday – Are YOU Prepared?You Tube FCO Travel Advice

Did you know how vulnerable you are when you check in?

The check-in cheat

One that many of us could easily fall foul of, the check-in cheat is one to watch out for. With plenty of information to take in when you check-in to a new hotel WiFi codes, room numbers and more it s easy to become distracted. And with your passport typically out on the check-in desk, you are unwittingly left quite vulnerable to someone swooping in and taking it.

In the video, James explains: While distracted by all that, it s easy for me to dive in and pick up the victim s passport.

Taking things easy

Of course taking it easy on Discount Holidays © holiday is exactly what you should be doing, but this could leave you vulnerable to getting caught unawares. In the clip a couple are sat drinking coffee, blissfully unaware of their surroundings. But in this moment, James sits behind them and reaches in to grab something from his jacket pocket, which is draped over the back of his chair.

However this is hiding the perfect opportunity to also sneak into the jacket of the tourist sat behind him and grab his passport.

Related articles


  1. ^ eye-opening video by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) (

You may also like...