Uncovering the Bird Poop Scam and How to Avoid It When Traveling

Ever heard of the notorious bird poop scam? It's a classic when it comes to traveling in other countries. Read about it here and learn to avoid it.
bird poop scam

Ah, the joys of traveling: exploring new destinations, sampling exotic cuisine, and, of course, navigating the occasional travel scam.

While scams, particularly bird poop scams, might not be on your bucket list, they are, unfortunately, a reality that many tourists face. Our emphasis here at WayWiser is on scams and fraud targeting older adults, helping us keep our families’ hard earned money safe and sound, we thought we’d take a moment here to focus on something that could affect us all.

In this article, we’ll dive into the “bird poop” scam (yes, you read that right), a dirty trick that’s left many travelers feeling, well, pretty crappy. So, let’s spread our wings and learn how to avoid falling victim to this messy ruse!

The “Bird Poop” Scam: What It Is and How It Works

The “bird poop” scam is a classic example of thieves preying on unsuspecting tourists. In this case, as described in a Reddit thread, the scam unfolded in Quito, Ecuador.

bird poop scam pick pocket

Here’s the gist of the bird poop scam: In this particular example a scammer splatters fake bird droppings on an unsuspecting tourist. Then, an accomplice swoops in, kindly offering to help clean up the mess with a handy supply of tissues. While the victim is distracted, their belongings are snatched faster than a seagull stealing a french fry. The same modus operandi can be found in various parts of the world, sometimes substituting a poop-like substance with a simple spray of ketchup or mustard—either way, causing someone to find themselves in instant need of a wipe up.

How to Recognize the “Bird Poop” Scam

Being targeted by the bird poop scam can leave you feeling a bit ruffled, but there are warning signs to watch out for:

  1. A sudden and mysterious bird dropping (or perhaps a random squirt of ketchup) appears on your clothes or belongings.
  2. A helpful stranger approaches you almost immediately, armed with cleaning supplies.
  3. You notice people lingering nearby, possibly waiting to snatch your belongings.

If you suspect you’re being scammed, it’s time to wing it: politely decline the help, secure your belongings, and quickly walk away from the scene.

Tips for Protecting Yourself from Travel Scams

tourists protecting themselves by being vigilant of the bird poop scam
  1. Do your homework: Before traveling, research common scams in your destination. This way, you can spot a scam from a mile away, just like an eagle-eyed tourist.
  2. Stay aware: Keep your eyes peeled and your wits about you. Scammers are less likely to target tourists who appear vigilant and aware of their surroundings.
  3. Trust your gut: If something feels off, it probably is. When in doubt, trust your instincts and give potential scammers the bird.

The Importance of Sharing Travel Scam Experiences

Spreading the word about travel scams like the bird poop scam can help others avoid a cruddy situation. Platforms like Word to the Wise serve as a valuable resource for sharing experiences and learning from fellow travelers. If you have some tips, leave them in the comments below!

Additionally, reporting scams to local authorities and travel advisory websites can help bring these shady practices to light, making the world a safer place for travelers one bird poop scam at a time.

While the “bird poop” scam may be a humorous reminder that travel isn’t always picture-perfect, it’s essential to stay vigilant and educate yourself about potential scams. By doing so, you can ensure your travels are filled with wonder, adventure, and significantly less bird poop.

So, spread your wings and fly, but remember: forewarned is forearmed, especially when it comes to poop-related scams. Safe travels!

Have another question? Ask an expert.

Our team is here for you. If you have a question about caring for an older adult or other member of your family—be it physical, legal, medical, financial, or anything in between—we’ll have one of our Trusted Advisors get back to you ASAP.

2 thoughts on “Uncovering the Bird Poop Scam and How to Avoid It When Traveling

  1. We were “pooped on” in Tarragona, Spain. Though we were insistent that we did not need help, the “poopers” were more insistent on helping us. They took my husband’s wallet out of his front pants pocket, removed his credit card and all of his money, and returned his wallet to his pocket without him ever noticing. They used the credit card for 11 purchases in the next 40 minutes. We received a fraud alert on one of the purchases and shut down the card, but they made off with a lot of money, too. They didn’t ruin our time in Tarragona, just our trust in strangers offering help.

  2. My wife and I were the victims of a bird poo scam in Figueres, Spain on Friday 12th April 2024. We were walking along a street called Monturiol passing Salvador Dali’s birth place when we were suddenly squirted from behind with a brown slurry resembling bird poo. A man immediately appeared and offered to help clean us up. He then escorted us to a cafe on the other side of the road and asked the owner for the key to the disabled toilet. We all entered and he began wiping us down from behind with paper from a roll and using a bottle of water. During this time, which was only a few seconds, he managed to remove a wallet from my pocket and extract all the cash. He then replaced the wallet in the pocket. He then left, whilst we continued to clean off the slurry from our clothing. We still did not suspect anything – after all, the wallet was still in my pocket. It was only a few hours later that I found all the cash was missing. Fortunately none of my bank cards were taken. I have since found out that an identical attack took place previously at exactly the same spot. As we were returning to the UK the following morning we did not have time to report the scam to the police. However, we were fortunate enough to be able to claim back most of the loss from our insurance company. Nevertheless, it ruined our day and we don’t feel like returning to Spain any time soon. I suspect that the women serving in the cafe was probably in league with the perpetrators.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *