There are a number of train services that can take you throughout Europe and, for many people, trains are their primary mode of transportation. This, unfortunately, exposes these travelers to the many hassles of public transportation, where scammers target tourists to take advantage of their vulnerability being in an unfamiliar place. One popular tourist scam that has recently resurfaced in Zurich is known as the "Marseille scam" and it has got journeyers all around Europe on high alert.
How the Marseille Travel Scam Works
The Marseille scam involves the automated ticket machines used to purchase rail passes that can be found in train stations all around Europe. With little human supervision, the ticket machines are an ideal point for scammers to step in and intercept money from travelers.
Basically, the scammers have devised a way to trap inserted cash inside the ticket machine, leaving it waiting there for the thieves to retrieve. When a person goes up to one of the ticket machines and inserts cash to buy a train ticket, an error message comes up and says that the money isn't going through. When the person who put in the money walks away from the machine to find an employee that can assist them with the problem, the scammer will walk up to the machine, get the money out of the "broken" machine, and disappear back into the crowd. It's been called the Marseille scam because it first became popular in the French city of Marseille, but the problem has been spreading all over Europe.
Avoiding Scams While Traveling
The current target of these scams is in Zurich at their main rail stations, so those traveling in Switzerland should be wary of a few things to do if this issue arises. First, if your money seems to be caught in a ticket machine and there's an error message, don't walk away from the machine that you've put your money in. Instead, wave down an employee or send someone that is traveling with you to get assistance for the problem. That way, you can keep an eye on your money and on the machine, thus preventing the theft from occurring.
On top of that, if you are in a rail station and you take note of someone who seems to be loitering near the machines or tampering with them in some way, it is important that you report it to the police as soon as you can so that these criminals can be stopped from scamming other travelers. People like this make travel a little nerve wracking for many and you can be part of the solution by being proactive and notifying authorities of suspicious behavior.
If you are going to be traveling through Zurich and other parts of Europe, keep all of these things in mind and keep an eye out in case scammers try to get at your hard-earned money. It's only a matter of time before the Marseille scam simmers out as awareness renders it ineffectual, but new scams are conceived every day. Be wary when traveling, especially in crowded areas like bus and train stations, and remember that renting a car in Switzerland is a surprisingly affordable way to avoid the hassles of public transportation!
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