Meet Conor Woodman

LR Exclusive Report
Meet Conor Woodman
© Handel Productions
The Man Behind Scam City
Conor Woodman
or those of you who have never seen the
Travel and Escape television show Scam
City (also seen on the National Geographic
channel), the series is designed to expose scams,
frauds and cons perpetrated on visitors to popular
tourist destinations. It’s riveting television.
Woodman’s show does its best to shed some light
on the darker side and sometimes downright evil
underbelly of tourist traps, though, to be fair, it
should be mentioned that he often actively seeks
out scammers and goes undercover as bait. He is
also an equal opportunity scam-buster, as he not
only targets some of the most obvious suspects
destination-wise, where the poverty is staggering
and crime is a way of life, but also takes aim at some
of the world’s most sophisticated cities, like New
York, Paris and Rome. A seasoned world traveler
who received his start in the biz as an investigative
reporter/exposé journalist, Woodman has seen
it all. So let’s sit down with the man to see what
makes him tick.
LR: Where are you from?
CW: I was born in Ireland but home is
LR: What is your journalistic background?
CW: I’ve worked in TV now for over ten
years but my most ‘journalistic’ piece of work
was my second book, “Unfair Trade,” which is a
reportage style look at how big business exploits
workers around the world.
LR: Why did you think there was a need for
this type of show?
CW: I don’t think anyone has ever really
penetrated the world of street criminals to see
what makes them tick before. I wanted to show
viewers who the people were that made a living
from ripping them off.
LR: Had you been scammed personally in
your travels before the show?
CW: Once or twice. I was in Thailand as a
student and got taken in by the elaborate ‘gem
scam’ where you are initially told the temple you’re
on your way to see is ‘closed’ and then get taken
on a wild goose chase that ends up in a gem store.
Funnily enough it’s still happening today and we
covered it in the Bangkok episode of Scam City.
(continued on page 12)
LR Exclusive Report
Conor Woodman
© Zig Zag Productions
Globetrotting Watchdog
Conor Woodman
Let’s continue with our interview of Scam City’s
Conor Woodman…
LR: Do you think the average tourist would
fall prey to some of these scams?
CW: Average tourist, no. Most people pass
their holidays happily avoiding getting ripped off.
But there is a significant minority who don’t, and
you never know when that will be you.
LR: Have you ever been in trouble with the
local tourism boards for painting an unduly
negative portrait of their destination?
CW: Yes. A couple of times. A couple of cities
we featured reacted in a really disappointing way
to the show. I think we’re very balanced and the
idea is that we help people to travel more safely,
but a couple of the cities we’ve featured haven’t
seen it the same way.
LR: Would you want this show to stop people
from traveling?
CW: No. That’s missing the point. I want
people to travel, but I want to arm them with the
knowledge they need to travel safely.
LR: What would you say has been the most
creative scam you’ve encountered?
CW: I often admire the physical skill of a good
pickpocket. But the most lucrative scam we’ve
featured has to be the money counterfeiters in
Argentina. Those guys are literally making money!
LR: It’s often said that tourists tend to leave
their common sense at home; would you say that
this is why most visitors become victims of scams?
CW: Yes. They take a holiday and their
common sense does too.
LR: Of all the places you have been, which
would you rate as the most dangerous, and which
as the safest?
CW: Bogota is still very dangerous; you must
be on alert. And I’d say New York is probably the
safest we’ve covered so far.
LR: If you could tell your viewers to do only
one thing to keep them safer or less of a target for
scams, what would it be?
CW: Visit and share
your experiences. The more info we share with
each other, the better prepared we can all be when
we travel.
Watch Scam City here: www.travelandescape.