I (Almost) Got Scammed by the Gypsies in Berlin

I arrived in Berlin at around 6:30 in the morning after my ten-hour bus journey from Amsterdam. It was very tiring, obviously, and it was very cold once I arrived at Alexanderplatz. 

My first impression of Berlin from my window was it's such a modern city. I got so familiar with London and also I just came from Paris, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, then to see Berlin with mostly modern buildings, it was just... different.

I decided to wait for my Singaporean friend whom I met in Amsterdam in Alexanderplatz because we planned to explore the city together, and after a few hours waiting at Starbucks she arrived and off we went explore the German capital.
It was funny because it was super cold and windy in the morning, but once the clock struck 9 or 10 the sun shone so brightly and we needed to take off all of our jackets.

Our first destinations were Burgermeister (it was such a massive portion and so good!), East Side Gallery, Checkpoint Charlie, Holocaust Memorial, Holocaust Museum and finally Museum Islands.

But here I'd like to tell you about our unhappy experiences in Holocaust Memorial.
It was such a sunny afternoon, we reached the memorial and there weren't many tourists. We walked off in between the maze-alike monuments and began taking pictures.
We started seeing other tourists around and also some people whom I've known as Gypsies.

How to spot a Gypsy in Europe?
Easy. They usually just come to you uninvited with a board and papers on their hands and will ask you for money for the so-called-charities. (Of course your money won't go into charities! Once you open your wallet, either they will snatch your wallet right away, or they will snatch your phone or bag+wallet when you're busy with your money.)

So, these girls came to me and I said no that we're just two broke students and we don't have money, then they left. We continued taking pictures, and how stupid these two broke students were that we just put our belongings on the ground, with two cameras and two bags laying around.
But thank God that my friend spotted that these gypsies kept walking on and off around us while gazing down at our things, she whispered to me and we decided to pick up our things and left.

When we were walking off from the monuments, I walked out first and my friend was behind me, and when I turned around to talk to her, I saw these two gypsies girls who was in the middle of trying to open my friend's rucksack from behind. Sneakily.
I was so surprised I just yelled at them, "What the fuck are you doing?!" and they were caught in the act and just stared at me for a moment. And guess what, they just laughed after that.
"No, we don't do anything."
"I saw you two. What the hell did you do?"
Still laughing. "No, nothing." They started walking off past me.
"I saw you."
And it was like a blink, the bigger girl came toward me and slapped me with the board and thankfully I was in the moment to pull away and she just ran after that. 

After they're gone we were just standing there and I really felt like crying. We walked off the monument and decided to go to Mall of Berlin to rest, and just to breath.
I was really scared. So so so scared.
We were fine, nothing was stolen, but it was really scary.

This was the thing that kept me remember Berlin as a bad place. I feel sad about it because I spent three days with such a wonderful Couchsurfing host in the city; ate pizza at Mauerpark, had Turkish breakfast at one of the neighborhood and just had a fun conversation at her flat.
But then there were these gypsies...

I've read somewhere that the polices couldn't do anything about those people. That they're protected with some kind of European laws, so even they were caught stealing and scamming, they would be released afterwards anyway. All the governments and polices do is to warn the tourists in advance to keep their belonging safe and never give money for their stupid charities.
It's stupid, but we can't do anything about it.

There are a few tips to stay away from being scammed:
  • When they are coming to you, just say no. When they are asking for the charity money, just say you don't have money.
  • In Paris, I just usually told them off with 'Non, merci.'
  • Always keep your bag safe. Keep them safe on your chest, if you're using a rucksack, use a safe lock. 
  • Don't put your phone in your pocket. Especially your COAT POCKET. You're just giving away your phone to them!
  • If you're traveling alone, try to look like a local when you're walking past her. 
  • Don't ask for pictures with random strangers. They could just run with your camera. Study those tourists first. I usually go with couple, or woman with family, or also sometimes with a fellow solo traveler.
  • Have fun, but stay alert. But you have to have fun, really though!


  1. wew what a bad experience and impression of Gypsies. Well, not surprised for their actions. cause they did it all the times. Gypsies are well known of those acts rite?

  2. Where there are tons of tourists, it's not uncommon for there to be scam artists :( I remember when I visited Berlin, there was one busy underpass where these people were asking passerbys to sign something and give money, and they were REALLY REALLY REALLY aggressive about it. It was pretty much harassment :( -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

  3. gosh, nerissa that's so scary but i'm glad you're safe! nobody told me about gypsies in berlin as i usually heard them in paris or barcelona. what a disturbing way to make living, moreover doing it purposefully! so so disgusting. my tip is be very clear and stern and look them in the eye as you say no. it works for everyone and it sends better message to leave the fuck alone out of you. don't forget all the good memories you made in berlin too, okay? <3