Scam City

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Scam City
Genre Documentary, Adventure, Reality
Presented by Conor Woodman
Narrated by Conor Woodman
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 20
Location(s) Worldwide
Running time 45–48 minutes
Original channel Travel + Escape, National Geographic Channel
Original run June 3, 2012 (2012-06-03) – present
External links

Scam City is a show which started airing on Travel + Escape in June 2012 which crosses the globe visiting ten of the world’s most popular cities in an effort to expose the darker side of tourism. The host, Conor Woodman, meets with questionable characters ranging from unethical cab drivers to aggressive pimps as he witnesses and experiences the travel experience of parting with personal property and money. He intentionally falls victim to these alleged scammers and says "yes" to every hooker and pocket jeweler in the city. The show aims to expose the local adaptations of common scams - from pick pockets, expensive cab fares, to bars luring people in with adult entertainment at a high cost.

Scam City has also been aired on the National Geographic Channel.[1][2]

In Australia, Scam City is shown on subscription TV channel Nat Geo People, which airs on channel 628 on the Foxtel network.[3]



According to Prague's criminal police department, all events depicted in the Prague episode were staged and the scammers were actually hired actors, as Czech Prima TV first revealed on October 2013.[4][5] The Prague Police spokesperson, Ms. Jana Rösslerová, happened to see the episode on TV and immediately informed her colleagues.[6] The Prague Police started to investigate the "crimes" depicted in the episode. They found and interrogated people featured in the documentary and checked all places where the crimes should have taken place. The result of their work was discovery that the whole reportage was fiction and staff shooting the documentary hired actors and extras for the roles of scammers.[6] According to the police, the night-club presented as a place with prostitutes and blackmailers has been closed for several years and the company Eurotaxi, used in the document as an example of taxi overpricing in Prague, went bankrupt in 2011, a year before the show was created.[6]

Czech news agency made miniseries inspired by the Scam City documentary. Their crew got into similar situations and were sometimes scammed with even worse results.[7] They upheld the integrity of the Scam City programme and also revealed some errors in the statements made by Prague officials. For example, the notorious bar with prostitutes was still open at the time the original documentary was made.[8]

Conor Woodman was requested by local police to give an explanation, yet he refused to do so stating that interviews with criminals were secured on the basis that information would not be shared with the police [9] Interpol was requested for assistance in this matter but declined. The city of Prague is, as of October 2013, considering to take legal actions against National Geographic for damaging its reputation.[6]

National Geographic Channel insists that the documentary is not a fake, and that all persons depicted in the documentary were informed after the filming.[10]


The next season a similar discussion occurred, this time involving the city of Amsterdam. The AT5 cameraman Frank Buis alleged this episode is also acted, and the scammers were hired actors. In the video he has posted to YouTube. [11]

The mayor of Amsterdam Eberhart van der Laan made a public statement regarding this. On jan 29th he demanded rectification and, if necessary, the mayor said he would resort to legal action to have the city's good name cleared “The city has been insulted. This looks like scam television,” the mayor said.[12]

National Geographic Channel denies that any actors were used in the making of the programme and asserts that all the criminals depicted in the programme are real [13]

Coner also denies the accusation on his Twitter : 'O come on Mr Mayor! Convicted criminals we caught on camera in the Amsterdam ep say they were only 'acting'. You believe that?!! #whatever ' [14] The webpage with information on the Amsterdam episode where Conor linked the criticism to his show with the then upcoming municipal elections, has since been put offline. [15]

In March 2014 the Amsterdam TV channel AT5 published that one of the persons figuring in the Amsterdam episode admitted being paid 1800 Euro by National Geographic.[16] According to the Dutch Parool newspaper, in a previous statement National Geographic denied manipulation in the episode; it was however admitted that a small compensation was paid to people seen in the episode.[17]

In April 2014 talks on a rectification between the city of Amsterdam and National Geographic are still ongoing.[18]

Season 1 (2012)[edit]

# Country Episode Details
01  Argentina Buenos Aires Scams involve pick pocketing, clip joints, vice girls and taxi scams. Most prevalent is the counterfeit money scam.
02  Czech Republic Prague Scammers may disguise as beautiful girls, harmless hawkers and friendly taxi drivers.
03  Brazil Rio de Janeiro During Carnival time Rio's scammers come out to party (on tourists).
04  Spain Barcelona Creative thieves take what they can from unsuspecting tourists.
05  Italy Rome Conor uncovers an underworld feeding off the booming tourist scene.
06  India Delhi Conor meets medical 'doctors' who are very happy to treat his 'Delhi belly'.
07  Turkey Istanbul The exotic scenery of Istanbul gives a perfect environment for scammers to target vulnerable tourists.
08  Thailand Bangkok Conor uncovers a gem scam that involves a chain of scammers.
09  United States Las Vegas Tunnel dwellers who live in storm drains do plenty of scamming on the strip of Vegas.
10  Morocco Marrakech Marrakech can be maze-like without a guide, however are the guides as genuine as they seem?

Season 2 (2014)[edit]

# Country Episode Details
01  United States New Orleans Conor discovers a range of scammers from street-level crooks to a sophisticated gambling racket with roots in organised crime(Razzle Dazzle aka Bingo Cajun)
02  Mexico Mexico City Conor heads out to discover more about the criminals who have killed, kidnapped and extorted their way through Mexico City's beautiful avenues.
03  United States New York City Conor finds that zero tolerance hasn't swept tourist scams from the streets (fake perfume, pick pocketing, Central Park Tourist Scam)
04  Netherlands Amsterdam Fake drugs, ATM Scams, Red light district, pick pocketing
05  Israel Jerusalem From questionable requests for charity at the Western Wall to pickpockets on the Mount of Olives, Conor discovers the darker side of Jerusalem.
06  India Mumbai In Mumbai, Conor experiences the mother of all taxi scams minutes after his arrival from the airport.
07  France Paris
08  United Kingdom London Conor goes undercover in his home town of London to discover a whole new side to a city he thought he knew so well
09  Colombia Bogota Conor searches for a deadly zombie drug that renders its victims helpless as he explores the underside of Colombia's largest city.
10  Hong Kong Hong Kong Conor gets more than he bargains for when he goes undercover in Hong Kong searching for scams and becomes a sugar daddy to a young "woman".

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Interview with Scam City's Conor Woodman[19]


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  7. ^ "Praha chce vymáhat omluvu za dokument Město podvodů, Stream natočil ještě horší podvody". 
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  19. ^ "Most notorious travel scams revealed". MSN Travel. 17 October 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2012.