Tourist Scams Part 1
April 02, 2014
Your dream has finally come true: you’ve come to Paris! You’re wandering the streets on a warm sunny day and enjoying the best of the French capital. You feel as if you’re on top of the world, nothing can ruin this wonderful moment. Nothing, except…tourist scams.
You’re strolling under the Eiffel Tower (or on the Champs Elysée or at the Sacré Coeur) and a young “mute” woman comes up to you with a sad look on her face. She is holding a clipboard with a petition bearing a few signatures. She holds it out for you to read and urges you to sign it. You feel sorry for her, so you take the clipboard and sign the petition… And just at the very moment you realize that you have been stripped of all your personal belongings (stolen by her “mute” accomplice as you were distracted with the petition) the young woman has vanished into thin air…
You’re about to bite into your first authentic French croissant at a café terrace, when a group of kids run up and sit at the table next to you. Not that unusual right? So you empty your pockets and put your cell-phone, wallet or handbag on the table for extra comfort. After all, nothing can happen if your things are sitting right in front of you! Think again… The kids slide a sign in front of your eyes (blocking your view of the table) that reads, “Please help us, we are poor and hungry.” You give a polite no and, in a split second, they disappear. By the time you realize that your table has been swiped clean, all you can do is explain to the bar manager that you won’t be paying your bill…
You are walking down the Champs-Elysée when a person walks towards you, bends down, and picks something up from the ground. It’s a nice shiny piece of jewellery. “Is it yours?” the person will ask, in broken French or English. Since your answer will be “no”, the person will then strike up a surprisingly convincing conversation that often ends with you keeping the “jewel” in exchange for money!
You are heading to the Sacré Coeur or exploring the Pouce de Saint Ouen when you spot a man with a table made of cardboard boxes and 3 playing cards (or three identical black circles) sitting on top. This always attracts a crowd. “Which card is the red card? 100€ bet for the person who can guess which one is the red card!” the man cries out. You watch a few rounds and it seems easy, other “bystanders” are even winning, so you wager 100€ and your round begins. You watch him put the red card face down, and you keep your eyes glued to that same card as he swaps its position with the other 2. “It’s there, it’s the middle card!” you scream. The man then turns over the middle card: King of Spades (black). You just lost 100€. The house always wins in this game.
You’re about to start the climb up the stairs to the Sacré Coeur when a man walks up to you holding nice colourful string. He strikes up a conversation with you in whatever language you speak and before you know it he is using that string to make you a bracelet directly on your wrist. String bracelets have never really been your thing so you’d rather not keep it. Problem is…you can’t take it off, and the man will definitely ask you for some money in exchange!
So now that you know how to get officially duped in Paris, stop by next week for our guide on avoiding these scams for a hassle-free time in the city.