Las Vegas is a popular destination spot for its nightlife and reputation for raucous fun. There’s a reason our slogan is “Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Unfortunately, scam artists throughout the city feel the same way. Avoid falling into a trap – know the biggest scams on the Vegas strip and how to protect yourself during your stay.
The Three-Card Monte
The three-card monte is a shell game that harkens back to the days of old movies involving organized crime, but the tradition is still alive and well in Vegas. Here’s how it works: Phony dealers ask players to bet on a card that’s shuffled with two others. Pick your card, and you’ll double your money. But here’s the rub: These dealers switch out your card, making it impossible for you to win.
- Avoid This Scenario: These games are popular on sidewalks in the Strip and under bridges. Gambling is part of the Vegas experience, but do it in a reputable casino.
On the Run
You even have to watch your moves where you’d least expect to – the bathroom. Daring thieves wait for women to enter bathrooms and hang their purses on hooks. Once a purse is hanging, the thief reaches over the door, grabs the purse, and runs away. By the time the victim gets herself decent, the thieves are long out of sight.
- Avoid This Scenario: Keep your belongings as close to you as possible. Wear your purse cross-body style or carry a small clutch with only the essentials. Don’t ever chase a thief: your safety is more important than money.
You’ve likely heard of the dine-and-dash, but this one has a Vegas twist: A stranger comes up to you and says he or she just won it big at the tables. The person offers to take you to a fancy dinner to celebrate. All is well until the end of the night, when your host gets up to use the restroom and never returns, leaving you to foot the bill for the extravagance.
- Avoid This Scenario: Be wary of anyone who offers you anything that seems too good to be true – chances are, it is.
This scam is an old one, but it’s still popular. Thieves routinely take advantage of gambler inattention at the slots. Alcohol is freely flowing and many patrons aren’t using their best judgment. Here’s how bucket thieving plays out: A con artist drops some tokens on the ground and asks if they’re yours. When you stoop to pick them up, another person steals even more from your bucket. Even worse, they can press the “cash out” button on your machine and take off with all your earnings.
- Avoid This Scenario: Be aware of your surroundings. It’s OK to let loose in Vegas, but don’t let excess alcohol consumption interfere with your common-sense judgement.
On the Long Haul
Vegas authorities are beginning to crack down on another famous scam – a practice called “long-hauling,” where taxi drivers will take longer routes and complete unnecessary circuits to run up exorbitant fares. It’s most common from the airport to the Strip, with tourists complaining that their fares were up to $20 more on the way there than they were on the way back.
- Avoid This Scenario: Do some planning and know what to expect. Call a cab company and ask for an estimate of a fare from the airport to your destination. If there’s a large discrepancy, talk to the company or the local authorities.
Scams are an unfortunate part of Vegas life, but they’re avoidable with a proactive approach. Be on guard and be safe while enjoying all that our great city has to offer.