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Paris new scam alert- spilling beggar

Hello from your friendly French traveller. I have seen this now 3x in several months- a man kneels on rue St-Honore-Faubourg (near the royal palace) with a clear cup of change in the middle of the curb. He knocks it over (or you walk into it) when turning the corner and as most tourist would, apologize, stop and help him pick up the change spilt. DO NOT DO THIS. Walk away. As soon as you are bent over picking up his coins, two others are behind you picking up what is in your bag or pocket. I had to stop one young lady who was about to lose her camera. This is the first time I see this in Paris so be careful, and know, sometimes it is ok to be rude! Stay safe, travellers!

Posted by
996 posts

-raises hand- It's the first time I've read about this one, despite having read a lot about travel. But if they want the used Kleenex in my pocket, have at it. ;-)

Posted by
3879 posts

Thanks for sharing. I've only been traveling internationally for 4 years, so it's the first I've heard of this, even if it has been going on for 100 years. I probably would have fallen for it, and the pickpockets would have got my wallet, but I empty it when in Europe except for 10-15 euro.

Posted by
27347 posts

I've been reading guidebooks to Europe for over 50 years and have never heard of this particular scam. I might well have fallen for it.

Thank you for posting.

Posted by
2 posts

In Paris in the 90's, a woman would try to hand you her baby. Don't take the baby!

Posted by
14157 posts

My thanks for posting as well. I did not know this one although I've seen most of the other common tactics in Paris.

Posted by
23419 posts

I haven't seen the kick over the cup of change distraction but encountered nearly the same in Milan in 72. Walking along a side street when three or four coins suddenly bounced on the sidewalk about five feet in front of us. Someone in front of us was acting like they had accidentally dropped some coins. We ignored it and walked past them. A distraction can take any form or shape or action. You cannot describe them all or be aware of all possibility. Anything out of the ordinary can be a distraction so stay alert.

Posted by
7644 posts

Thanks for noting the form of the "scam", the general method is as others noted as old as time, create a diversion, have others move in.

Sign a petition, trip on an escalator, stall in a subway door, drop something, squirt of "bird poop", kids running up and swarming you, "crazy" person yelling and accosting you, Official looking guys trying to intimidate you, I could probably go on and on.

Maybe the other most popular scam form is offering "something for nothing" and appealing to greed.