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Tips For Tour Guides: Avoiding Scams, pt. 2

Scam emails are a regular problem for many in the tour industry. These type of scams will be emailed to countless tour guides... the scammers will have skimmed email addresses of tour guides from GANYC's site or other source. Our goal is to help train you to learn how to spot, and avoid, them. 

We previously wrote about the popular "Redstone Arsenal Military Base" one that made the rounds several times last year, with a breakdown on the red flags. We received a new one today, and we will break this one down for you as well. Here is the email:


I will like you to organize a tour package for my family of 6 people.

It will be a 5-days tour program. It will start on the 24th. May-
28th. May (5 days) 2018

I would greatly appreciate it if you could send us an itinerary via
email that will cover the 5- days tour.The itinerary should include
sightseeing to historical places,arts and culture.

And if you have accommodation too.

Get back to me if you can take care of this booking. And I hope you do
accept credit cards for advance payment.

Best regard,

James Pearson

There are several red-flags here. Let's go one by one. 

  1. The email purports to be an English speaker, but the language and grammar here is not that of a native English speaker.
  2. The key one that is the same across all these type of scams: a too-good-to-be true offer that aims to get you seeing so many dollar signs that your common sense will temporarily escape you. In this particular case, the sender says that he wants a private 5-day tour for his family. If real, this would mean potentially 40 hours of private work, which would be a HUGE payday. If real.
  3. The request itself-- "sightseeing to historical places,arts and culture"-- is very generic, because it wants to appeal to all guides.
  4. The request for accomodation assistance. Again, the request is so huge as to have you seeing so many dollar signs, you ignore your gut warnings.
  5. It ends with an inquiry about credit cards, a classic scam email red-flag.

While not a red-flag, the scammer did leave a clue for you... the phone # at the bottom... if you're wise enough to do some research. A Google search of that number brings up many websites warning of scams associated with that number. Google is your friend!

So what is the ultimate goal of this scammer? There are some variations, but in general, this is how it would work: You would quote the sender a specific cost for these services... say, $2000. The sender would then you a payment-- using a bad check or more likely a stolen/hacked card-- for way more, say $4000. The sender would then immediately email you, saying they made an error in payment, and insist that you immediately/quickly send them a money transfer for the difference. So you would then send them money, and then find out their payment bounced. In which case, you are now out the money you sent them, but also responsible for the fees for the bounced/cancelled fake payment they sent.

When you receive such an email, we recommend just deleting it. Of course, if you are not certain, you can post the email on a forum or Facebook group for tour guides and ask your colleagues their opinion. Always better to be safe than sorry.

Proud Members of:

GANYC is an association of independent tour guides. Each member is licensed by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. GANYC provides a listing of all member guides to the public. GANYC is not liable, or responsible, for contractual obligations made between clients and tour guides. GANYC stands for Guides Association Of New York City.
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