Cash and jackets in Rome

Lonely Planet's Katie Falkiner gets more than she bargains for on the streets of Rome.

We'd been warned about being robbed in Rome. Most stories revolved around train stations, and having newspapers or babies waved in your face to distract you from the children rifling through your pockets. So we weren't expecting trouble when a shiny car pulled up and a stylish man asked us the way to the Trastevere district…

We shake our heads – 'non parliamo Italiano' - and he asks where we're from. You wouldn't believe it! He has a sister who lives in Melbourne! He asks what we are doing in Rome; we lie and tell him we're on our honeymoon.

He is very happy for us. He works for Prada, you see. And since we're from Melbourne and on our honeymoon, he would love to give us presents. Two Prada bags with leather jackets are pulled from the back of the car and given to us.

'Oh, no, we couldn't!'

But he insists and says he would be offended if we don't accept them. Smiles all round. We thank him profusely. Then he asks us if we have any money; he needs petrol and he's left his wallet at work.

'Unfortunately,' we say, 'we haven't changed our money yet.'

Things turn icy.

'You offend me. I have given you presents and now you will not give me money for the petrol I need.'

No one is smiling anymore. My boyfriend, trying to be helpful, pulls out his wallet and holds it open. 'See, we only have English pounds.' The man is very angry. In one swift move he swipes the £80 from the wallet, saying, 'That will have to do,' grabs the Prada bag he'd given me, and speeds off down the road.

And - surprise, surprise - the remaining jacket wasn't Prada!

Lonely Planet produced this content for our partner, Visa.

Have you ever fallen prey to a classic travel scam?