— As Americans travel abroad, they are increasingly spending money in ways that can get them into trouble.
And the latest example is an illegal and potentially dangerous practice: tourist traps.
Travellers in China often make purchases with cash, which can result in a criminal charge, but the currency itself can be considered a tourist attraction.
As a result, it’s illegal to purchase the currency from the government, as some states do, and travelers are generally warned about the risks.
The Chinese government has tried to curtail the practice, but some tourists still do.
The U.S. Embassy in Beijing has been warning Americans about the dangers of tourist traps for a year, and it says it has seen “a significant increase” in the number of complaints from Americans traveling overseas.
“Travelers should take the following precautions when buying and using local currency: 1.
Know your local currency’s history and current value.
You can see the exchange rate in your local bank’s currency converter tool.
Always buy cash from the cashier.
Do not use plastic bags or other disposable items, and avoid touching the cash.
Do your research before purchasing.
Be sure to read and follow the instructions given by the tourist trap vendor, or check the official site for the exact date of your purchase.
Pay with a Western Union credit card or American Express card to avoid fraud.
One of the most common tourist traps in China is the sale of counterfeit Chinese yuan.
Chinese tourists buy counterfeit Chinese currency and sell it to Americans for cash.
According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in 2011, over half of the counterfeit currency in circulation was sold as Chinese yuan, and about 80% of it was sold for less than 50 Chinese yuan ($5).
In China, counterfeit currency is usually used to pay for hotel stays, entertainment, trips to foreign countries and other activities that are not legal in the country.
It’s also sold for money transfers and for other purposes such as travel insurance and travel insurance for businesses.
Many of these transactions are done with a person using a Western or Chinese bank card, and not the cash in their pockets.
In addition to the cash transactions, Chinese tourists also buy items in the tourist traps, such as watches, jewelry, food, cosmetics and souvenirs.
This can be dangerous because the currency can be used to purchase illegal goods, which are often counterfeit or misused.
If you’re planning on visiting China, make sure you’re aware of the rules before you go.
Follow AP Travel Writer Jill Dyer on Twitter @JillDyerABC and on Facebook at The ABC’s Jill Dyers and ABC News Travel Writers’ Page.