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Paris Metro Scam

Well, after countless trips to Paris and Europe, it finally happened...we got scammed! A young cherubic boy was standing by the metro ticket machine and he offered to help us buy our tickets. Now, we know enough about the metro that we really do not need anyone to help us either in French or in English. Anyway, we figured he was trying to earn a Euro by being helpful. Helpful should have been the first red flag. The second flag should have been when he tried to grab a 50 euro note instead of the 20 I was putting into the machine. Anyway, once the bill was in the machine and the transaction was almost complete, he reached across my wife and quick as a bunny, hit the cancel button. He snatched the returned bill before anyone noticed and sauntered off while we waited for the bill to be spit out of the machine. By the time we realized he had taken the money, he was three quarters of the way up the escalator out of the station. I gave pursuit, but he vanished in the Paris morning crowd. Lesson leaned. Do not trust young children hanging around the metro near the ticket machines or anyone offering unsolicited help where money is involved.. We had not hear about this scam before and pass it along so others can be warned.
The next day one of our travelling companions had his phone picked out of his front pocket...$700 no insurance. Stay vigilant out there and travel safely.

Posted by
158 posts

Sorry to hear about your experience! At least it was only the 20 note.

I have been wondering about phones -- mostly I read pickpockets just want cash because it's easier. I take all my pictures on my phone so I want to have it easily accessible. But also try to keep it safe. I will have to think about how to do that.

Posted by
5 posts

In the summer months when you wear a golf shirt, where do you keep a phone? Would love to hear some suggestions. We spoke with some people over there and they indicated phones are now prime targets.

Posted by
12154 posts

If I saw a kid hanging around a Metro ticket machine, I would wait him out or go to one where no one was around. A comparable incident like that happened to me at Gare du Nord in 2009 with a youngin hanging around in a long coat (in the summer?). He did ask me if I needed a ticket, (I did), I barely answered him, he got the message, ie beat it. A kid hanging around...in Vietnam they used to call that VC intelligence.

Posted by
518 posts

"In the summer months when you wear a golf shirt, where do you keep a phone? Would love to hear some suggestions. We spoke with some people over there and they indicated phones are now prime targets."

I keep mine in a pocket that either has a zipper, button or velcro flap (whether pants or jacket/shirt). And if i'm wearing jeans with no enclosure/flap type pockets, I put it in my front pocket with my wallet. With the jeans, the force and angle with which I have to shove the phone in that front pocket with the wallet already in there would it make it near impossible for anyone to get at it. Even I have trouble pulling it out sometimes. Not to mention, this is the iPhone 6s, which is a fairly "long" device, so it's not something that would just slip out or pop out easily.

When in my hand and being actively used, I have strap/loop that I slip over my wrist, so even if someone tried to grab it from my hand, they'd end up dragging me along with them.

Posted by
6534 posts

I've had this happen in Naples and in Istanbul - both were very aggressive type situations (not little cherubs, I'm afraid). On my third trip to Istanbul, I experienced for the first time kids (of various ages) hanging out by multiple tram ticket machines and trying to "help" every non-local trying to use the machine. I am fairly sure they were concentrating on the machines in heavily touristed areas (e.g. in the Old City) because I didn't find them in other stations mostly serving locals. Once one of these kids got rather aggressive with me and tried to put his fingers on my cash, I did not hold back. It seems like a very uncomfortable thing to do, but you have to get physical right back and use your arms and elbows to get these little suckers out of your personal space. No one - not a kid or an adult - should invade your personal space. There is no doubt whatsoever that if you give them one inch, they will rob you blind. So I grabbed and shoved the kid's hand off my coins and said "NO" in pretty harsh terms - even if he doesn't understand a lick of English, the tone gets the point across. Another older boy was nicer and simply asked for 5 Euros for "helping me" (to do nothing) and again, I said "NO" and walked away. I think it's human hesitation to give these kids the benefit of the doubt that enables them to do what they do - and, believe me, they are becoming quite expert at extracting money from unsuspecting tourists.

This is a good lesson - people offering unsolicited help are only trying to help themselves, and you'll be soon parted with your money.

Posted by
1068 posts

In the summer months when you wear a golf shirt, where do you keep a phone? Would love to hear some suggestions. We spoke with some people over there and they indicated phones are now prime targets.

In the hidden pocket next to the collar.....see Scottevest. While I generally don't like their clothing (many do) as carrying around 10 pounds of stuff in a vest is still carrying around 10 pounds of stuff (okay, off the soapbox), I do like their T-shirts and polos. Their Bamboo shirts dry in a flash if you are sink washing. Just enough pockets to hold a few things you don't want stolen. As an aside, if you are interested in buying, I think they cut a tad small. Some things I buy in my size are perfect, the same item in a different color is a tad tight.

Posted by
11450 posts

I kept my phone in my purse , in an inner zipped compartment.

I don't trust kids around my cash, sorry , I am hardened to the reality , normal kids do not hang around bank machines or ticket machines. Do your kids do that at home?

Sorry it happened , but it want your first trip, you must have heard about the Roma issue? Your sympathy was his tool, that's why they use kids!

Posted by
12154 posts

Re: "...extracting money from unsuspecting tourists." It's always the "unsuspecting" tourist, isn't it?

Posted by
630 posts

Gary, sorry this happened to you, but thank you for sharing your story to make others aware.

Posted by
11613 posts

Not everyone who offers help is going to take advantage of you. But kids (or adults) hanging around ticket machines s a red flag. In one city, a woman was practically draped across the ticket machine - an obstacle to getting a ticket. I was in the longer line at the ticket window, but one man in the machine line was quite vocal about where she should and should not stand. She moved for him but then resumed the position.

Posted by
701 posts

I use the pants and shorts from Clothing Arts.com when I travel in Europe. They have a combinatin of zippers and button down flaps that keeps things secure. In the past 4-5 years I've been in every major country in europe and I've never had a problem with pick pockets although some have tried.