Scam City

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Scam City
GenreAdventure, Reality
Presented byConor Woodman
Narrated byConor Woodman
Country of originCanada[1]
United Kingdom[1]
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes20
Production location(s)Worldwide
Running time45–48 minutes
Original networkTravel + Escape, National Geographic Channel
Original releaseJune 3, 2012 (2012-06-03) –
External links

Scam City is a television show which started airing on Travel + Escape in June 2012, and has subsequently aired on the National Geographic Channel,[2][3] and in Australia on the subscription channel Nat Geo People.[4] Host Conor Woodman travels to some of the world's most popular cities in an effort to expose the darker side of tourism.


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 sex worker 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 was nominated for Best Popular Factual Series at the UK Broadcast Digital Awards in 2014 [5] and in 2015 for Best Factual Series at the Canadian Screen Awards [6]



After the transmission of Scam City in Istanbul, the city's authorities responded by making several arrests. As a result of the programme several 'clip joints' in the city were shut down and so-called 'false friends' who were operating in them were arrested.[7][8] Although the practice is still commonplace today.[9]

In the Istanbul episode further scams are exposed at the Blue Mosque where touts trick tourists into paying for unofficial tours and then coerce them into buying goods such as carpets that they do not want. As a result of the program, Turkish authorities moved to change the laws to prevent tourists being targeted in this way.[7]


According to Prague's police department, all events depicted in the Prague episode were staged and the scammers were actually hired actors, as Czech Prima TV first revealed in October 2013.[10][11] The Prague Police spokesperson, Ms. Jana Rösslerová, happened to see the episode on TV and immediately informed her colleagues.[12] 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.[12] According to the police, the nightclub depicted as a haunt of prostitutes and blackmailers had been closed for several years, and the company Eurotaxi, used as an example of taxi overpricing in Prague, had gone bankrupt in 2011, a year before the show was created.[12]

Czech news agency repeated many of the investigations from the Scam City documentary. Their crew got into similar situations and were sometimes scammed with even worse results.[13] They argued for the integrity of the Scam City programme and also revealed some errors in the statements made by Prague officials. For example, they claimed the notorious bar with prostitutes was not closed in 2011 as the police claimed, but in fact was still open at the time the original documentary was made.[14]

On 29 July 2014, City of Prague announced that they had reached an out-of-court agreement with National Geographic. National Geographic will not broadcast nor offer this episode of Scam City, but no apology is required. The decision to settle out of court was taken since a lawsuit would be long, expensive, and of uncertain outcome.[15]

Conor Woodman was requested by local police to give an explanation, but refused, stating that interviews with criminals had been secured on the basis that information would not be shared with the police.[16] Interpol was requested for assistance in this matter but declined.

National Geographic Channel insists that the documentary is not a fake, and that all persons depicted in the documentary were informed after the filming.[17]


An episode aired in January 2014 provoked similar controversy, this time involving the city of Amsterdam. In the episode, various supposed crimes were filmed, including those committed by criminals posing as police officers, and Conor Woodman tweeted, in July 2013, "Amsterdam is right up there for the title of Scammiest City. It has all the right ingredients and all the right chefs!"[18] A police investigation revealed, according to Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan, that the filmmakers had paid criminals to appear in the videos. National Geographic confirmed that people had been paid, but that they hadn't been actors; pending investigation they pulled the show from their rotation.[19] Van der Laan referred to the show as "scam television", demanding an apology and rectification, and pending that threatened to take the matter to court.[20] Woodman responded in a tweet, "O come on Mr Mayor! Convicted criminals we caught on camera in the Amsterdam ep[isode] say they were only 'acting'. You believe that?!! #whatever".[21]

In March 2014, Amsterdam TV channel AT5 published a story alleging that one of the people who had appeared in the Amsterdam episode claimed to have been paid 1,800 Euro by National Geographic, and that representatives from National Geographic were discussing the matter with the city.[22][23]

On May 23, 2014, the city of Amsterdam announced that an agreement had been reached with National Geographic; National Geographic acknowledged that many of the events depicted in the show had been staged, though they said no actors were ever used and the program was based on extensive research.[21][24][25]

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 Woodman uncovers an underworld feeding off the booming tourist scene.
06 India Delhi Woodman 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 Woodman 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 Woodman 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 Woodman 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 Woodman 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, Woodman experiences the mother of all taxi scams minutes after his arrival from the airport.
07 France Paris Woodman gets his portrait done by street artists without his consent, Chinese paintings being sold as completed by French art students.
08 United Kingdom London Woodman 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 Woodman 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 Woodman 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.

Further reading[edit]

  • Sharks: Investigating the Criminal Heart of the Global City is Conor Woodman's book based on his research for Scam City and other shows (September Publishing, 2017).
  • "Most notorious travel scams revealed". MSN Travel. 17 October 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2012.


  1. ^ a b "Scam City" – via
  2. ^,,,-Scam-Citys-Conor-Woodman
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Scam City".
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2015-01-23.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Page not found".
  7. ^ a b "Şeytanın aklına gelmeyecek numara! - Gündem Haberleri".
  8. ^ "National Geographic exposes tourist scam in Turkey - TOURISM". Hürriyet Daily News.
  9. ^ "How Donald Trump Helped Me Recover $354 from the Turkish Mafia that Robbed Me -". 5 April 2016.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-10-12. Retrieved 2013-10-09.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Praha – město podvodů! Anebo podvádí filmaři, kteří o ní točí? - Prima Zoom".
  12. ^ a b c "National Geographic líčil Prahu jako semeniště zločinu, ovšem podváděl".
  13. ^ "Praha chce vymáhat omluvu za dokument Město podvodů, Stream natočil ještě horší podvody".
  14. ^ " ▶ Internetová televize, seriály online zdarma a videa".
  15. ^ "-".
  16. ^ "You can't con a Conor - The Irish World". 22 January 2014.
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Amsterdam eist rectificatie National Geographic na 'beledigende' uitzending". de Volkskrant (in Dutch). 29 January 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  19. ^ "Amsterdam: Tv-programma betaalde 'criminelen'". de Volkskrant (in Dutch). 22 January 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  20. ^ "A'dam eist excuses tv-zender". NOS (in Dutch). 29 January 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  21. ^ a b "Scam City Amsterdam deels in scène gezet". de Volkskrant (in Dutch). 23 May 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  22. ^ "'Zakkenroller' Scam City kreeg 1800 euro" (in Dutch). AT5. 19 March 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  23. ^ "Van der Laan praat over rectificatie Scam City". Het Parool (in Dutch). 19 March 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  24. ^ Dijk, Evelien van (23 May 2014). "Verklaring National Geographic Channel" (in Dutch). City of Amsterdam. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  25. ^ "'Scam City' Amsterdam edition used staged scenes, NatGeo admits". DutchAmsterdam. 2 June 2014. Retrieved 3 June 2014.

External links[edit]