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Tourist Scams Part 2

April 09, 2014

By Florian


Paris is a city of beautiful architecture, famous monuments, thrilling nightlife and, like any city, tourist scams. Last week we revealed to you the Top Tourist Scams in Paris. This week we tell you how to avoid, and even get the upper hand, on these scammers for a hassle free vacation in the City of Lights.

Fake Petition

The Scam: You have just signed the petition of a young “mute” woman…

The Trick: Best Case Scenario: the woman asks you for a donation (and insists you pay) to her cause. Worst case scenario: the woman will divert your attention using the fake petition while her accomplices sneak up from behind and take as many things as possible from your pockets and/or bags.

Spotting The Scam: This is usually conducted by a group of women who are very persistent, with no sign-language skills or official uniform or badge representing an organization.

Beating The Scam: Politely but firmly say that you are not interested and wave your hand to emphasize your refusal. Walk away if you can but, if you are standing in line, make sure you keep a close eye on your belongings and watch your pockets.

How To One-Up The Scammer: Bring your own petition and ask them to sign it. Tit for tat, no?

Table Scam

The Scam: You have just been shoved a sign in front of your eyes asking you for money by kids as you are sitting at a café table…

The Trick: When the sign is shoved in front of your eyes you cannot see that little hands are simultaneously swiping your table clean of all your belongings.

Spotting The Scam: It happens fast and you can’t really see this one coming. It’s generally a group of 4 or more loud and very confident children, often lacking politeness and having no problem getting in your face.

Beating The Scam: Never leave your belongings on the table of restaurants or bars, or a purse hanging on the back of a chair, especially when you are sitting on a terrace. Should you fall victim to this scam, quickly alert the restaurant manager. If you catch a thief red-handed, remember not to use physical force, as hurting a child is punishable by law.

How To One-Up The Scammer: How about investing in a 3€ mouse trap? You will definitely catch the thief “red handed”…

Jewel Scam

The Scam: A person has just “found” a nice piece of jewelry on the ground in front of you…

The Trick: The person will tell you that he/she comes from a very poor family and explain that the piece of jewelry they just found in front of you is likely very valuable. “I found it, but why don’t YOU keep it” they will say. And in exchange, they will ask you for a “finders-fee” of sorts. Say… 50€. Done deal! You then bring it to the nearest jewelry store to get an appraisal and they will tell you it’s worth not even 1€…

Spotting The Scam: Unless you are expecting a marriage proposal while in Paris, someone kneeling down in front of you with a “valuable” piece of jewelry to offer is likely a scam.

Beating The Scam: Just say that you are not interested and walk away. No need to engage in conversation.

How To One-Up The Scammer: Tell them you ARE a jewelry appraiser and that the value of the piece of jewelry is approximately the price of a McDonalds Big Mac.

Playing Cards

The Scam: A man invites you to play his card game…

The Trick: The man is a card manipulator and you will never be able to see what he does with his cards. Although it is a game of luck, you will most likely lose as the man will influence your choice, leading you to the wrong card. If you see a person win beside you, you can be sure it’s his accomplice. Should you luckily win 100€ or more, chances are that the man will take you aside and ask for the money back. Our advice: give it back! 

Beating The Scam: You might want to look at what is happening and learn a few card manipulation tricks while you are at it, but for the love of God, don’t start playing!!!

How To One-Up The Scammer: How about saying that you are David Copperfield and have your own set of fancy magic tricks. Between illusionists, you’ll surely understand each other…


The Scam: A person walks up to you and quickly attaches a string bracelet to your wrist…

Spotting The Scam: This scam is almost always conducted by a group of young men standing in front of the stairs and elevator leading to the Sacré Coeur. They will walk right up to you (string in hand) and with a big “HELLO, HOLA, BONJOUR,” grab your wrist and start tying up the bracelet. Once finished, they will insist that you give them some money. Your negotiation talents will determine the price of the bracelet…

Beating The Scam: The bracelet makers can sometimes be very aggressive in grabbing your wrist. You need to give a polite, yet very firm, “no thank you” (non merci) and walk away. They will eventually chase someone else…

How To One-Up The Scammer: Why not wear a mean-looking rubber rattle-snake around your wrist? No one will want to tie a bracelet next to your pet snake.



Although Paris has its signature scams, they can usually be avoided by keeping a close eye on your valuables, using inner pockets (jackets, purses), and keeping your bags closed (and in front of you in crowded spaces) at all times. Overall, Paris is a fun and beautiful city with many things to discover and keeping these points in mind will help you to enjoy it hassle free!

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