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Con Voyage: Sun sea and scams

One of the great things about travel is the people you meet - but what if you meet the wrong type of people?

That's what has just happened to me during an eventful trip to some popular resorts, where I was scammed repeatedly.

Wandering around relaxed in the sun, its easy to feel good about the world... but that's just what the con-merchants want.

The first holiday scam I came across during our filming was a classic, which you are highly likely to encounter in many destinations this year.

You hear the "Pea Men" long before you see them, there is always lots of cheering and excitement around them. This noise is a vital part of the routine designed to lure you in.

Once I got closer, I saw a crowd of people gathered around an upturned cardboard box. A man was inviting people to lay cash bets on where the pea was out of three hollowed out potatoes.

People appeared to be winning and were actually being handed money by the operator of the game. It was all going on in an area full of tourists, it was hard not to go over to take a look.

If you come across the "Pea Men", simply walk on. Its all designed to deceive and fleece you. The people who appear to be winning are part of the gang and the pea can be passed from place to place undetected.

As the local police chief in Benidorm told me - a genuine player will never win.

Once I tried to expose their tactics, the gang quickly jostled me away.

We all love a holiday souvenir and the scammers ruthlessly trade on that fact.

As I wandered in the Costa Blanca sun, I was approached by a street vendor selling "gold" bracelets. He claimed it was 18 carats and worth 200 Euros.

The problem is that when I try to walk away, he hangs on like a limpet.

Many of these sellers are so insistent, it can become intimidating. Once I investigated, I found that the jewellery on offer looks remarkably similar to cheap chains on sale locally at just 40 Euros a metre.

Some people will even exploit our desire to make new friends on holiday. I had a brush with the "friendship bracelet scam", where a jolly bloke approaches full of smiles.

He asks where you are from. Lo and behold, he knows the place... and even has some sort of family connection with it.

He want to "give" you a bracelet - but beware. Its made (very cheaply) in a way that once on, its hard for you to slip out of it. Then the requests for money will start. I watched a number of holidaymakers caught up in this and each time they ended up handing over money. Its a technique full of charm, but the end result is always the same - they get your money.

We also found that an increasing number of tourists are scammed long before they get to the sun. Our programme "Sun, Sea and Scams" has uncovered more than a dozen fake holiday villa sites.

These hijack photos from legitimate accommodation adverts. One reputable owner told me 10,000 of his photos have been stolen this way. A golden rule is not to transfer money by direct bank transfer - that's the way criminals are able to disappear with your money leaving you with no money... and no holiday.

I got just a taste of what it is like to fall prey to those willing to use underhand tactics to get a slice of your holiday money.

We all love the summer, but so do the scammers. They find us relaxed and with our guard down. If you know what to look out for, there is no need for you to be a victim. Just remember that our holiday hotspots... are also hotspots for scams.

  • Tonight: Sun, Sea and Scams is on ITV at 7.30pm on Thursday 22nd June