Even since the Euro came into circulation in 2001, travelers have been falling victim to an age old coin scam – switching currency coins with those that look very similar, but are worthless.
The scam usually involves a transaction where Euro coins are given back as change. If you do not pay attention to the coins you are given back as change, you may see that instead of getting a 2 Euro coin back in change, you were handed 4 worthless 500 Lira coins (the old Italian currency in existence prior to the Euro, but now worthless) or the Turkish Lira – also very similar looking.
It can be hard for tourists to quickly recognize, especially at night, in dark rooms such as bars and lounges. The scam is much more prevalent when dealing with street vendors, taxi drivers, or others who find that switching coins with unknowing tourists is an easy way to make a few extra dollars – or in reality, Euros!
The coins each share the same size and design (silver outer ring with inlaid copper middle) as the new €2 coin. So whenever you receive a change that has a coin the size of €2 ALWAYS verify that it is actually €2 before taking it. Make sure that you can see €2 value displayed on one side of the coin. Europeans never touch a coin the size of a €2 without verifying that they don’t fall for this scam.
Study the photos below so you don’t fall victim to the Euro coin scam and always take the time to look at and count your change!
Compare the below Euro coin to a now worthless Lira coin
Practice identifying the various denominations of Euros (coins and notes), and making change. Know that fumbling with change invites people to “help” you (and themselves); it also draws attention to your tourist status.
Below is the full set of Euro coins