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Any current scams happening in Paris?

Thinking of my last trip when the gypsies were throwing the wedding rings down in front of us and picking them up like they had just found something valuable.

Posted by
11507 posts

The scams are all the same , many have been around since I was a little girl , many decades ago , some are hundreds of years old ( the cup game )

It's simple , don't let strangers get close enough to pick pocket you , don't think anyone is giving you stuff for free , don't listen to obvious foreigners who approach you randomly in the street saying " speak English " , don't sign petitions ( why would you , as a foreigner your signatures don't count for legitimate causes)

Posted by
8293 posts

There are "current" scams taking place all over the world, even your town/city, I expect. If you go to Paris expecting, even waiting, for scams to happen you will not have a good time. Just say "no" firmly and move on when the golden ring folks approach. It is the least problematic of the scams, except for those greedy, slightly crooked tourists who think they can get a gold ring for five lousy bucks from the poorly dressed girl offering it.

Posted by
5450 posts

I think the biggest scam is that Paris is full of scams.

Posted by
288 posts

..."don't listen to obvious foreigners who approach you randomly in the street saying 'speak English'..."

My wife and I were visiting Paray le Monial yesterday -- it's a small town in the Saône-et-Loire part of Bourgogne with several religious features including a Romanesque basilica and a chapel commemorating where Sainte Marguerite Marie supposedly saw the sacred heart of Jesus in a vision. I understand it's a pilgrimage site that fills up with religious visitors each summer.

A woman approached us randomly in the street asking if we "speak English." It was clear she wasn't French (i.e., an "obvious foreigner") from her accent, which sounded vaguely eastern European. To top off the obvious charade, she was dressed in a nun's habit. These people will stop at nothing!

She asked if we knew where the Chapelle La Colombière was. I'm almost embarrassed now to admit it, but we foolishly allowed ourselves be drawn in to her scam, and admitted that we weren't sure, but we thought we did and would be willing to walk with her there. It turns out that she was part of a group, no doubt a band of traveling scalawags, who had just come from a week of religious classes at Taizé and were about to head back to their home in Slovenia.

When we arrived at the chapel, she thanked us with a smile and we parted company.

These scams are getting more subtle every day. Be on your guard!

I think I saw a documentary about this... oh yes: here's a snippet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzfe6P6e5No

Posted by
14580 posts

@ K..."the obvious charade...." Isn't it? "...a band of traveling scalawags...." Good use of a historical term...eloquent.

On "speak English"...what happens if you say no?

Posted by
8293 posts

Dear K

Thank you for your story. Loved it. "Evil is in the eye of the beholder" isn't it?

Posted by
7061 posts

K, am I missing something? What was the scam? Or were you just being tongue in cheek?

I haven't heard of anything new and intriguing, just the usual suspects that are always there.

Posted by
288 posts

Fred,

"On 'speak English'...what happens if you say no?"

Well, that would be a problem right there, because instantly they would know you speak English.

Say "Non" instead.

Posted by
288 posts

Nancy,

Sometimes the scams are so subtle they're hard to see.

Posted by
7061 posts

K, I understand that, so spell it out for me, what was the scam?

Posted by
1132 posts

I'm in Paris right now and I'm seeing more homeless and beggars than I've seen before. Or maybe I just haven't noticed before? The usual suspects who walk around selling souvenirs seem less aggressive, they're not hounding you as usual. I arrived at Orly the other day and the "taxi drivers" who are standing at the exit were very aggressive. I was tired and almost fell for them then I remembered to look for the taxi rank to get a legitimate cab.

Posted by
288 posts

Nancy,
I'm sorry. The "scam" was that some give advice to suspect every stranger of ill intent, and that that is most certainly not the case.
I was making a joke because of the connection between reading advice about ignoring foreigners who approach you about speaking English, and what happened to me on Monday. Nothing more.

Posted by
60 posts

I'm also in Paris right now, & my impression is exactly the opposite. The area in particular around Notre Dame used to be overrun with beggars & folks accosting tourists to sell trinkets. This time virtually none. Still packed with tours & sightseers, but not a panhandler or street salesman in sight. Perhaps the extra security patrolling has been a damper on their business.

Posted by
8293 posts

As I said, evil is in the eye of the beholder.

Posted by
23439 posts

I am with Emily. One big problem with all travel boards is that they focus on the bad stuff, negative, pickpockets etc. to the extent that inexperience travelers seeking advice think they are headed into a den of thieves and that they will be stripped naked in the first 15 minutes. When in fact just the reverse is true. I don't know how to put it in the proper perspective. With just a little preparation your likely hood of being a victim is greatly reduced. We have spoken with strangers on the street, have responded to inquires and tried to be helpful when we could with no dire consequences. Now approach me with a clip board and I will move on quickly -- except one time. Came out of a museum into a plaza and were confronted with a mob of kids - middle school, young high school, as with clip board and grabbing everyone as the exited the museum. Noticed a teacher looking adult standing in the middle surveying the mob as they as asked everyone to answer a few questions. If was kind of fun - as explained it was a class studying statistics and as a part of the class they had developed questions to ask everyone and then put it all together. Most of the questions were cute, a couple kind of dumb, but all in all interesting. And I left with all of my gold teeth, billfolds, watches, etc.

You cannot run away for everyone and you certainly cannot assume that everybody is out to get you.

Posted by
14580 posts

I say "no" or "non" ...the next step is up to them as I am walking away, isn't it?

Posted by
490 posts

I speak 5 languages , including French, but always answer "Do you speak English?" With a few words of Danish...Usually asking the if they have any money for me, and they walk away! ;)

It is one of the least spoken languages on earth!

Posted by
8180 posts

I always snarl 'Nein' to anyone who asks if I speak English. I think I am a pretty good judge of who is a tourist needing help or someone to snap a picture and a thief/scammer. I have only gotten drawn in once by this in the last few years -- just long enough for the hook to come out, at which point I curled my lip and turned away. We give to buskers and buy from souvenir sales people if we want the souvenir (my grandchild loved the sparkling Eiffel Tower). Imagine being an immigrant trying to scrape by in Paris. But the beggars and thieves -- they need to go back home.

Posted by
362 posts

I loved the story above about the scam that wasn't! :-)

I like to read guide books. Before we went to San Francisco for the first time, I read the guide book which clearly said to be on the lookout for pickpockets.

Before we went to Washington, D.C., I read the guidebook. Same warning.

Before we went to Costa Rica - clearly it must have been the same guidebook. Same warning.

Italy, Germany, Austria - same guidebook warnings.

Here in my home town, people come up to us in the parking lots of stores - children in tow - asking for money. (I haven't read the guidebook for my city, but I'm betting it's the same as the ones above.) And even here in the US, in my hometown, I keep my wallet/phone secure when I'm in a crowd.

I agree that reading the travel forums it can make you feel that the minute you step off the plane in Europe, you'll be a walking magnet for thieves and lucky to escape with your face still attached to the rest of your head. Crime can happen anywhere. The best we can do is be aware of our surroundings and take reasonable precautions like not having all your cash in your back pocket wallet or wearing a really expensive ring/watch/etc. to attract attention. Otherwise, you'll spend your entire trip in terror and never enjoy anything.

At least, that's my take on it.

Posted by
2620 posts

If I am approached by what is obviously someone trying to shove a petition at me I respond in another language that I do not speak English, like Hungarian.

Posted by
2136 posts

One big problem with all travel boards is that they focus on the bad stuff, negative, pickpockets etc. to the extent that inexperience travelers seeking advice think they are headed into a den of thieves and that they will be stripped naked in the first 15 minutes.

It seems that all public forums regarding any subject tend to accentuate the negative. You have to learn to recognize and put in perspective all the Debbie Downers.

The other thing here at RS is the horror stories of driving in Italy. Newbies have no perspective. We almost changed our plans when we visited Tuscany. Luckily there were those who posted more moderate viewpoints. It turned out driving in Tuscany was a joy; knowing and adhering to some basic principles kept us safe and fine free.

I went to buy bird seed at a local store in my home town Monday. Four younger teenage boys were leaving the Cineplex next door and tried to hit me up for money. I continued walking. Suddenly a man caught my attention and I turned around to find the boys surrounding my Miata. The gentleman and I scared them off. After buying the bird seed, I drove across the highway to Lowe's for a few items. When I came out to the parking lot, there were the same four boys looking for trouble. This led to a call to the Sheriff. I see as many people up to no good in my hometown as I see when I travel.

Posted by
2 posts

My wife and I just returned from France yesterday. And we really only experienced one situation in which there was definitely a scam going on. Thankfully it was not us, but another older couple, who also knew what was going on.

A person came up to them and asked the time, while the person asking the time, got really close to almost the "groping" level. The gentleman immediately pushed the guy away and yelled the time and walked off.

I also saw the scam in which a woman holding a baby in her arm, but it is supported by a strap on the metro. And almost immediately when she got on the train, she was causing somewhat of a commotion by talking really loud to herself almost to create a bit of a distraction. She then got off at the next stop.

Money belts are a must, they are a bit cumbersome to use, but they do their job effectively. NOTE: YOU DO NOT NEED TO TAKE THEM OFF FOR MUSEUMS! But if you have a credit card with a RFID blocker sleeve, that may set off some metal detectors in which I needed to show the security folks, the credit card after it was removed.