COMMON TOURIST SCAMS IN PARIS
Did you know that beautiful and luxurious Paris is home to thousands of con artists? These people engage in several fraudulent activities to scam tourists off their money and in several cases ruin an entire vacation. While it is advisable to be extra cautious all through your travels, some places are considered higher risk areas than others. Popular areas like ‘The Louvre’, ‘The Eiffel Tower’, ‘The Arc de Triomphe’, ‘The Sacre-Coeur’, ‘The Seine’, and ‘The Notre Dame’ fall under the high risk zones for scam in Paris.
On today’s post I will share with you the famous tricks used by fraudsters in Paris. I’ll also teach you how to avoid being a target. In short, I am here to show you how to deal with these scammers should they pick on you.
COMMON TOURIST SCAMS IN PARIS.
1. Friendship bracelets fraud at Sacré-Cœur
I fell for this one and felt really foolish afterwards! So what they do is that they walk up to you, smiling and complementing you, then they offer you a bracelet as a sign of friendship. As soon as they tie the bracelet round your wrist they demand you pay for it. The thing is you cannot just easily remove the bracelet. You need to cut it off. The most annoying part is while you are distracted by the bracelet guy, another guy pickpockets you.
**The easiest way to deal with these frauds is to be unapologetic and ignore. Be adamant and ask them to stay away from you. Do not be sacred of sounding rude or looking like a bad person, they are equally not so nice when they demand money from you.**
2. The Gold Ring scam
This is common around the Seine River and The Eiffel Tower. A stranger walks up to you with a faux gold ring asking if you dropped it. When you say NO,(which is the obvious case), then they proceed to examine it and exclaim how costly it must be. If you are greedy they offer to sell it to you at a giveaway price. The ring is totally useless of course. The best way to handle them is to not get into any sort of conversation with them just ignore and walk away.
3. ATM scams
There are no mysteries as to what a person is doing by the ATM. Obviously you came to get cash and scammers want cash so the ATM is a target spot. Usually, there are different ATM scams.
First scenario; After you make a withdrawal, a car passes by, drops a guy and some cash fall from the car with the guy pretending to be in a hurry and does not notice he lost money. Then a random stranger picks it and approaches you explaining how lucky you both are for finding the free money. While he starts counting the cash which is usually fake notes in high denominations, he suggests you give him some lower denominations to split the cash. If you are greedy then you give your own money for counterfeit.
Second scenario; A stranger walks up to you and tells you that the machine is bad, they offer help and watch you as you enter your pin. Once they have the pin they snatch the ATM card from you and proceed to withdraw money from your account on another ATM. Be mindful of where you go to withdraw money and if anyone walks up to you at the machine, make a scene, they’ll leave quicker than they came.
4. Signing a Petition Scam
You will encounter this a lot in Paris. A group of people championing a faux noble cause will come to you and pretend to represent a noble cause. The aim is to collect donations for the cause. The thing is they never come asking for a donation, they come asking for a signature and then proceed to aggressively demanding a donation. Be aware that sometimes, they even pickpocket you in the process.
**The best way to handle them is to show that you are not interested in whatever they are doing, just look straight up and walk away.**
5. The Cup Game
This is one of Paris oldest frauds and people still fall for it sadly. What happens here is that they put up a show on the street where you can play a game to double your money. The game includes placing a ball under a cup and shuffling it. You will now have to pick which cup has the ball and once you get it correctly they promise you double of the money you paid. Well the down side is no cup has the ball as it has been deceptively removed so you have no chance of winning. The best way to not fall a victim is to leave the scene and don’t play.
6. Metro Pick-Pockets
Like in every big city, pick pockets always target crowded areas and the metro is not an exception. Personally, my debit card got ‘copied’ and was used to make purchases afterwards while I was on a crowded metro in Paris. The most popular scenario is they target peak hours when the metro is over crowded, once the train stops and people are getting off/on, one of them distracts you and before you even regain your balance the second one snatches your belongings and hops back off/on the train.
**The best way to avoid been a victim is to be guard your items with a strong grip while commuting, avoid putting phones or important items in pockets and most especially be vigilant of those around you**
7. The Rose Flower Scam
This one irritates the life out of me! Its popular almost every where not just in Paris. Usually, the fraudster posing to be a rose seller, approaches you with a complement and offers you a rose flower as a GIFT! Then once you accept the nice gesture and say thank you, they insist aggressively for some payment in return…like bro did I ask you for it??? They mostly target couples as in the end they know when it;s presented to the lady, her spouse will pay for it.
**To avoid this annoying experience, once you spot anybody selling rose flowers, be smart to refuse any free gifts from them**
How to Avoid Being a Target of Paris Scam
1. Don’t dress too touristy: When in Paris dress like a Parisian. Ditch the t-shirts, “I love Paris” face cap, and overly large backpack with the always accompanying selfie stick. Nothing screams target than a touristy tourist!
2. Walk intentionally: If you really need to use a map, google map with audio direction is a great idea. An easy target is one who keeps wandering around aimlessly. So make sure you are clear on exactly where you are headed or simply walk like you are.
3. Ignore unnecessary advances from strangers: Seriously ignore any advance that is unsolicited. These fraudulent persons take advantage of peoples niceness. Do not be afraid to ignore any unsolicited advance and walk away as if the person doesn’t exist.
4. Be mindful of where you speak English: Target 101 rule. The French don’t speak English as a common language of communication, so if you walk around Paris speaking English, you obviously don’t belong. Best tip is to learn a few French words and phrases before visiting Paris and feel free to use them with a confident demeanor.
In conclusion, suffice it to say that while Paris a lovely and breathtaking city, some fraudsters have taken advantage of it to profit of unsuspecting tourist. So while all-time vigilance is encouraged you need to be extra careful around these areas especially during the peak season (May-September). Share your experience in the comment section and let us know if you have encountered any of these fraudsters.