My wife and I visited Montelpuciano yesterday. As we approached the entry arch we were asked to sign an anti-drug petition. It just asked for name and country-- no other identifying information. In the last column I could see that everyone else had contributed an average of 20 euros. I'm usually a real softie about making contributions but it occurred to me that these two guys could be making quite a bit of money with their "petition" if it was just a scam. The petitioner was shocked when I wouldn't give him any money and let loose with a bunch of colorful as we walked away which I unfortunately didn't understand. Anyone else run into this?
Sounds like you did the right thing.
the purpose of the "petition" is get you to stop walking. You can't write if you are walking, can you? Then they extract money from you either by you you giving it (and then they have a view of your wallet for later pickpocketing) or pickpocketing you while signing.
Petitions, if they are actual petitions are only for influencing local politicians. Foreigners are of no value at all. When was the last time your local politicos responded to a petition signed by a bunch of Italians?
You did the right thing. The flowery language was the proof.
Total scam. We encountered this one in Milan a few years ago.
Yes, IMO that was definitely a scam! I've encountered the petitions many times, and I never sign. I really don't care if they sling a bunch of colourful language at me!
To begin with, I am NOT going to give my name and home address to someone on the street in a foreign country. Also, why would local authorities even care about the signatures from tourists who don't live (or vote) there? These scammers always pick a good cause, knowing that will elicit sympathy from the people they're scamming. The fact that they had contributions listed as €20 is a HUGE red flag! I suspect they just wrote that on the page hoping that any suckers they encountered would be willing to contribute the same amount.
Finally, would a legitimate fund raiser have hurled a bunch of profanity at someone that wouldn't contribute?
Yeah - we got hit with this in Venice and Florence. Our first time we didn't really know what was going on (it was our 1st visit to Italy and Venice)...hubby gave them a few euro. When we were in Florence (our 3rd trip) I was more aware of the scams...but apparently hubby forgot because they tried to hit him up outside the train stn in Florence...I just walked away...I can't rem if he gave them a few euro or not...I read him the riot act ;)
They were also trying it with the 'deaf and dumb' girls in Avignon...sign the petition (for what exactly?!) and make a donation. I just put my hands up, said NO and walked away, but one of them grabbed my husband on the shoulder and said (yes - they are 'deaf and dumb') 'You sign!'...he walked away...nothing was pickpocketed...
Definitely a scam. We also saw them at Avignon - the "deaf" scammers who we saw talking in groups later in a different area of town.
Same thing happened to me in Ljubljana last week. I was having coffee in an outdoor cafe when a women came up to my table and motioned for me to sign her petition. I wouldn't, and she finally walked away. Something seemed off, so I googled "petition scam" and yep, it's a thing!
The petitioner's behavior gives you the answer to this. They are scammers.
The funny thing about the ones in Avignon - if you go in the Pope's Palace (where we were accosted) - as you come out thru the gift shop, they have signs up warning you about them!
Said to 3 beggars or petitioners in Gare Nord last month "No Habla Espanol". Their expressions were priceless.
I get asked to sign petitions from time to time, not necessarily a setup for pick pocketing but definitely a scam, usually by nicely dressed young people. No colorful language has come my way, but perhaps I look like I would understand it - and perhaps give something back.
We encountered several petition scams in Paris, all near touristy places like the Pompidou Center and all involving girls. A bunch of girls would approach us with a clipboard. We didn't slow down, kept our hands on our bags, and said "No, no, no" as we walked through the group.
With scams such as this, or the other one about the well dressed man in a fancy car asking for directions, there needs to be some two-way communication for the scam or at the very least, the approach, to succeed. What I've experienced in Italy as well as other parts of Europe now is that when I walk at a brisk pace and don't make eye contact, there is little chance for the encounter to develop. Also, my wife and I are ethnically Chinese and although we are from the US and were both raised in the US and speak fluent English, we also speak fluent Cantonese. So whenever we are out and about we speak Cantonese to each other and we've found that we're approached a lot less by would-be scammers (although this was obviously not the case as you'll see in my other post about the Rome Termini robbery...but that's a different story). But still, the brisk-paced walk and avoiding all eye contact helps a lot.