As re-watching season one of Scam City will only go so far to keep you from getting ripped off on your next vacation, here's a rundown of 10 recent real-life travel cons that've separated unsuspecting tourists from serious amounts of cash -- and landed the swindlers behind bars.
1. Travel contest winners = drug mules
Imagine your excitement to learn you've won two free tickets to Canada (stop laughing -- remember, we're imagining here), seven nights at a nice hotel, and a brand new set of luggage. Now, picture your dismay as airport authorities reveal almost 8lbs of meth hidden inside each new bag when you return home. That's what happened to one Australian couple who -- almost duped by a fake Canadian tour company -- became suspicious of their free new luggage and "alerted customs officers"; eight drug-smuggling Canadians were eventually arrested and are awaiting trial.
Tip: Don't take luggage from a stranger on a plane. And if you "win" a free vacay, call the Better Business Bureau to vet the company first, and realize you'll have to pay taxes on the trip ('cuz ain't nothin' free).
2. Fake tickets to the Louvre
While the culprits are still at large -- and likely part of a Chinese organized crime syndicate -- thousands of fake billets (as they say en Français) to the world's most-visited museum began flooding the market late last Summer, popping up predominately in the hands of Asian tour groups. Belgian customs actually intercepted 4,000 counterfeit tickets hidden in a package from China. Similarly, four American conmen were arrested back in '09 for peddling bogus tickets to Disney World and Universal Studios.
Tip: Don't sign up for an Asian bus tour, and definitely only buy your museum, theater, and sports tickets from authorized vendors.