Thursday, December 2, 2010

Scams in Paris

I just saw a report that French police have broken up a major crime ring operating in the Paris Métro.  You can read the story in the Winnipeg Free Press, but the short version is that the bad guys are accused of forcing young people from Eastern Europe to beg and steal on the Métro and Parisian tourist attractions.  The ring supposedly took in 1.3 million euro (1.7 million dollars) last year.

Petty theft and dishonest begging is an unfortunate aspect of life in many large cities, and I've personally experienced a couple of scams while in Paris.  There is the scam where a young women come up to you abruptly in a train station or on a busy sidewalk and ask, "Do you speak English?"  I don't exactly know what happens next, but I assume that if you say yes, you'll be swindled out of something. 

I've witnessed a second scam along the Seine.  A man or woman bends down to supposedly pick something up off the ground and - lo and behold! - it's a gold ring.  They ask if it's yours, you say no, they enlist you in helping find the owner and then you likely get pick-pocketed by their accomplice.

What kinds of scams have you experienced in Paris or elsewhere while traveling?

7 comments:

Nisha said...

There are many scams/tricks in this world. I have mentioned one here. http://www.lemonicks.com/Travel/2010/05/24/tricks-you-might-fall-for/

In Paris, I found if you are alone on a busy road & wearing a waist pouch, 4-5 young children approach you begging. They have an open newspaper in hand and keep the newspaper at your waist level touching your body gesturing you to put some money on that.
While some of them will keep you engaged, the more shorter & smarter one cuts your pouch under the newspaper. And then together they all vanish in the crowd.

Zhu said...

I've seen all kinds of scam in Paris... The ring one for instance! The fake booksellers at Montparnasse, the scam in which you are asked to sign a petition but in fact you have to make a donation...

Parisians are tricky people :-D

ferienwohnung lloret de mar said...

Thanks for sharing the news about scam .I have to travel to Paris and i will be attentive during my travel after listening about such scams.

Quiet Wanderings said...

Such a shame these things happen. There is also the 'friendship bracelet' scam which I think happens mostly up near the Sacre Coeur.
Scams aside, Paris is still wonderful. Love your blog!

Rachel said...

This sounds scary. Are the targets usually young women or anyone? I haven't been scammed abroad thankfully, though one time in the Ukraine my hosts had to bribe the police so as not to pay a fine... I don't know if I would have had the guts to bribe a police. I'm glad I wasn't put in that position.

Rachel
http://www.pinkpangea.com

PNR Enquiry said...

Nice post.I have to travel to Paris and i will be attentive during my travel after listening about such scams.Thanks for sharing the news about scam .

Karen said...

I don't know if this was an attempted scam or not. But one time in the metro, a guy stopped me and flashed something that I guess was supposed to say he was an official - it did have a lot of signatures and a stamp of some kind, but I didn't get to look at it for long. He spoke no English and asked me for my passport. I had a small, reduced size photocopy of it that I showed him, he shook his finger at me, kept repeating something (and the only word I could pick up was "Jamais!"), and then I left. I still have no idea what that was, but I have been told since that sometimes people will try to get your passports that way.

Quoi de Neuf?

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