23 Most Common Tourist Scams in France

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France Paris Eiffel Tower

Image source: YouTube – BookingHunterTV

 

For over twenty years, France has been the #1 most visited country in the world.

In this gem of a country, we have the most romantic city in the world, the French Atlantic coast, modern winter resorts on the French Alps, medieval castles of Normandy and many more!

Coupled with world class gastronomy, fashion and culture, it is little wonder why France is one of the most visited countries in the world and in Europe.

However, such unrivalled numbers of tourists have also attracted a great number of thieves and scams. Read on to learn how to protect yourself in the city of lights!

 

 

A. TOURIST ACTIVITIES

1. The gold ring trick

 

How it works:

A very old and common trick in and around France, especially Paris.

A gypsy will coincidentally find a gold ring on the floor, point at the “18k” hallmark on the ring and offer it to you.

In reality it is just polished brass, but trust me, there ARE people who take it. It can be very convincing. It goes something like this:

Scammer: “Sir, did you drop this ring?”
You: “No, I did not”
Scammer: “Well, you can give it to your wife, why not? It will make her happy. They might also insist that their religion prevents them from keeping the ring.

If you accept, the gypsy will demand money in return. She will say:

Scammer: “Sir, I am hungry, can you give me some money / change for a croissant?”

If you give, they will ask for more. Most people tend to give as they have accepted / taken something from the scammer. Reciprocity is a powerful thing.

Sometimes, the scammer might walk away and reappear 5 minutes later to demand your money. Whatever it is, they will hound you until they get some money.

The most scheming ones will have an accomplice pickpocket you while you are protesting.

 

What to do:

If it is not yours, don’t take it.

Further, arm yourself with a money belt or hidden pouch and an anti-theft bag to conceal your valuables securely so as not to become a pickpocket victim.

 

2. Louvre pickpockets

Mona lisa Louvre

Image source: Flickr – sergeymk

 

How it works:

I know, we are all here to see Mona Lisa and that’s the area where pickpockets operate.

There are usually large masses of people at the cordoned off area trying to snap pictures of the painting. It is squeezy and most are unaware of their surroundings, the perfect set-up for pickpockets.

Authorities have found that in one day in July alone, 56 stolen wallets were found in the museum! And these were just the discovered ones, imagine how many more went undiscovered..

Do be careful outside the Louvre as well. Queues are snakingly long and this presents a great opportunity for pickpockets too.

 

What to do:

Stay alert and watch out for suspicious characters, though that is easier said than done in a crowded environment.

The best solution is still, to not make yourself look like a target. 

This is because once you are targeted, you will almost definitely lose your valuables in a split second.

To make it impossible for thieves to steal from you, we recommend:

  • Carry small amounts of cash in a cheap spare wallet that you wouldn’t mind losing. Do not leave it in your back pocket.
  • Conceal small valuables securely in a slim fitting money belt or hidden pouch.
  • Store larger valuables in an anti-theft bag that is slash resistant and lockable. Keep it in front of you.
  • Keep most of your valuables in your hotel / hostel safe, which can be further secured with hotel safety tools.
  • Carry around a photocopy of your passport instead instead of the actual one.

 

 

3. Street pickpockets

 

How it works:

Although the French police has made admirable efforts in busting pickpocket gangs over the years, the networks run deep across Europe and the scourge of pickpockets is still alive today.

Hot spots include:

  • Major tourist sites: the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Champs-Elysées, The Louvre, Notre Dame, Orsay, Madeleine, Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Coeur and Montemarte, L’Opera, Les Halles and the George Pompidou Centre, Château de Versailles
  • Shopping malls: Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, l’Opera Garnier
  • Markets: Porte de Clingnancourt flea market
  • Parks (during night time): Bois de Boulogne, and the Bois de Vincennes
  • Others (will be discussed further down): public transportation, restaurants, clubs, hotels, etc

These thieves work in gangs, and will hang around to spot anyone carrying an expensive or neglected phone / jewelery / valuable / bag and where it is stored.

Once they mark a target, they will surround him or her and then work like this:

  • One will keep a lookout and block passer-bys from seeing the scene
  • Another will push or distract the target (e.g. ask you an innocent question / survey / drop something and ask you about it)
  • A third will steal your valuable / slash your bag and then passes it on
  • The last will hide the loot under a jacket / items and then escapes with it

In recent times, Asians have been increasingly targeted, as they are deemed easier targets who carry large amounts of cash around, especially at shopping malls.

 

What to do:

As mentioned earlier, the best solution is still, to not make yourself look like a target. 

To make it impossible for thieves to steal from you, we recommend:

  • Carry small amounts of cash in a cheap spare wallet that you wouldn’t mind losing. Do not leave it in your back pocket.
  • Conceal small valuables securely in a slim fitting money belt or hidden pouch.
  • Store larger valuables in an anti-theft bag that is slash resistant and lockable. Keep it in front of you.
  • Keep most of your valuables in your hotel / hostel safe, which can be further secured with hotel safety tools.
  • Carry around a photocopy of your passport instead instead of the actual one.

 

 

4. The string / bracelet scam

 

How it works:

This is a standard scam in Europe (e.g. ItalyGreece) and is common around the Sacre Coeur / Montmartre area, Seine River, Louvre, Gare du Nord, and metro lines leading to the Montmartre area.

They are easy to spot as they carry long, colored string, yarn or other items.

What they do (normally Africans) is they ask if you want a “friendship bracelet” or “friendship ring”. If you say yes, they will tie it so tight around your wrist or finger that makes it impossible to remove.

They will then demand money from you. If you refuse, his accomplices will emerge and forcefully bring you to the nearest ATM to withdraw everything inside.

Another variation is that these scammers will first engage you in a conversation. They then ask if you want to see a magic trick.

Before you know it, they would have skilfully tied a band around your wrist or fingers.

More creative scammers will approach couples and offer the woman for free. Should the woman accept, another will pop out to offer the man.

Since it is assumed to be free, the man tends to accept. But once you do, they will hound you for payment.

The most ruthless ones will tie the friendship band and while distracting you, an accomplice will steal your valuables.

 

What to do:

Stay alert and stay away. Keep your hands well hidden in your jacket or pockets if you walk past them. Single female travellers should take extra precaution.

We hate repeating this, but arming yourself with an anti-theft bag or money belt / hidden pouch will really do wonders in securing your valuables in Europe where pickpockets is the #1 petty crime tourists face.

 

5. Ball and cup / shell game / three pea scam

 

How it works:

The shell game / three pea game scam is everywhere in Europe (e.g. UK, Germany, Italy), and is commonly seen at the Champs-de-Mars park behind Eiffel Tower.

To win, you have to bet which one of three cups contain a pea or a ball, after a scammer switches the cups around a few times. Guess correctly and you double your money.

At the game, you will spot a bunch of people – they are actually all part of the same gang. One will switch the cups around, one will play the game, three to five will act as the onlookers, and one will be on the lookout.

The trick is that the scammer switching the cups will make it painfully obvious which cup the pea / ball is in when the accomplice plays to make it seem like an easy game.

However, once you are hooked and join the game, they will use a sleight of hand trick to switch the pea / ball without you realizing at the last moment.

Do not be a spectator too, as you leave yourself open to being a pickpocket target by the accomplices.

 

What to do:

Stay away.

 

6. Petition scam

 

How it works:

Out in full force at the Eiffel Tower, this scam is perpetuated by young girls working in groups.

It usually starts with an innocent question: “do you speak English”? There are a few variations of this scam.

Firstly, someone will try to hold your attention as they get you to understand the petition and to sign it. Next moment, your wallet is gone. It could be done stealthily, or a bunch of people could simply mob you.

Another variation would be young girls approaching you to sign a petition to help save the world / help the deaf / the mute etc. They might pretend to be deaf / mute themselves.

A clipboard is shoved in your face, and you see several signatures and some French words. These words basically mean that if you sign, you have to give 1,000 euros or you will face a penalty.

If you don’t pay, more kids will appear out of nowhere to pressure you to pay. While distracted, you become an easy pickpocket target.

Finally, be wary of the creative ones who place the clipboard on your table (assuming you are at a restaurant / cafe).

When you chase them away, you will realize that any valuables which you have laid out on the table will have disappeared as well.

 

What to do:

Firmly decline and walk away.

And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, do arm yourself with a money belt or hidden pouch and an anti-theft bag to conceal your valuables securely.

 

7. The rose scam

flower scam

Image source: wheresmybackpack.com

 

How it works:

A scammer offers you a rose as a token of friendship in the city of love. Should you accept it, payment will be demanded.

Even if you return the rose, you will be hounded.

Another version is where the scammer targets couples, by offering the girl a rose and asking the guy to pay.

 

What to do:

Never accept anything from a stranger on the streets. Nothing is free.

 

8. Street vendors / touts

Image source: ibtimes.com

 

How it works:

What these touts do, is peddle lousy quality items. They let you try whatever items (e.g. bracelets) they have but before you have time to decline, they will demand an inflated payment.

In some cases, these vendors are just using this selling gig as a set up. Should you take your wallet / purse out, an accomplice might snatch it and run away with it.

 

What to do:

Avoid engaging.

 

9. Snatch thefts

 

How it works:

Snatch theft is common around touristy areas, transportation hubs, on public transport, hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, parcs, shopping malls, etc. There are endless variations.

The first is that of a simple snatch of your phone or bag from behind you or on the table, and then running into a getaway car to escape.

The second happens at restaurants, where victims are usually in a relaxed state and distracted in conversation.

  • A bag, wallet / purse or camera slung around the chair, or left on an adjacent seat are super easy pickings for thieves. The either steal it stealthily, or do a distract and grab.
  • If you have laid out your valuables on the table, another trick scammers use is to lay out a map over them and to ask for directions. When they take the map back, they will take your valuables along as well.

The third favourite spot for thieves are at hotels and airports, as you will be carrying all your valuables out and are usually tired or distracted with the customs / registration process.

A fourth spot is the seats beside a train’s doors are a great spot as well as the thief can time his escape perfectly just before the doors close.

Finally, a fifth spot is at the nightclubs and areas around, where tourists either do not keep their valuables in their line of sight are too drunk to be aware of their surroundings.

An even more creative variation can be seen from the video below:

 

What to do:

Stay alert at crowded places, and even at seemingly safe places like at a restaurant or hotel:

  • Do not lay your valuables out on the table or expose them unnecessarily in public.
  • Keep your bags in your line of sight and as close as possible (e.g. on your lap when at a restaurant).
  • Ideally, use a money belt or hidden pouch to conceal your valuables securely.

 

While out walking / on a vehicle on the road or streets:

  • Watch out for motorcyclists who seem to tail you, especially if they have a pillion rider (accomplice).
  • Carry your valuables in a bag across your body with a cross body anti-theft bag, away from the road / windows of your car / bus.
  • Do not carry items in your hands such as a mobile phone when walking by the road or when beside the window in a car / bus.
  • Avoid wearing obvious jewelry which can be easily ripped off your body.

 

 

B. TRANSPORT

1. Public transportation pickpockets

 

How it works:

Crowded metros are a favourite hunting ground for pickpockets. Stations to be careful at include the following:

  • Chatelet
  • Les Halles
  • Barbes Rochechouart
  • Gare du Nord
  • Auber-Opera-Harve Caumartin
  • Charles de Gaulle-Etoile
  • Concorde
  • Strasbourg-Saint Denis
  • Republique
  • Montparnasse
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Bastille
  • Care de l’Est, Nation
  • Gare de Lyon

Operating on public transportation such as metros and trains, there are thieves who pretend to sleep so that you will let your guard down against them.

They are actually observing you and waiting for the perfect time to strike.

Other thieves will wait beside a train’s doors, so as to be able to snatch and escape just before the doors close.

Otherwise, they will execute the standard “surround-distract-snatch-pass” method as described under the street pickpockets scam.

 

What to do:

To make it impossible for thieves to steal from you, we recommend:

  • Carry small amounts of cash in a cheap spare wallet that you wouldn’t mind losing. Do not leave it in your back pocket.
  • Conceal small valuables securely in a slim fitting money belt or hidden pouch.
  • Store larger valuables in an anti-theft bag that is slash resistant and lockable. Keep it in front of you.
  • Keep most of your valuables in your hotel / hostel safe, which can be further secured with hotel safety tools.
  • Carry around a photocopy of your passport instead instead of the actual one.

 

 

2. Trojan horse scam

trojan horse scam

 

How it works:

This is a recent scam reported on the airport bus to the Paris Beauvais Airport.

A thief hides in a luggage bag which is then deposited in the luggage compartment for long distance travel.

Once the coast is clear, the thief gets out (by attaching a lace to the zip on inside of bag) and begin stealing valuables from surrounding bags.

Once he is satisfied, the thief hides in the luggage bag again but now with his loot.

 

What to do:

To prevent yourself from falling prey, first, use a hard shell luggage that is more difficult to break into one that uses zippers (a pen is all that is needed to open zippers).

Next, consider investing in an extra TSA lock, luggage strap or some cable ties to further secure your luggage.

Note that these do not secure your luggage 100%, but are just meant to deter the thief from targeting your luggage.

Third, do not leave your valuables in check in luggage or luggage that you store in the storage compartment while travelling.

Instead, store them in a money belt or hidden pouch and in a sturdy, lockable anti-theft bag that is slash resistant.

 

3. Fake / unofficial taxi

France taxi

Image source: autoblog.com

 

How it works:

You will find unofficial airport taxi touts all over the world (e.g. Mexico, Indonesia).

At the Charles de Gaulle Airport, these touts are extremely aggressive. Should you engage them, be prepared to pay €20-30 more than normal fare.

Besides at the airport, you might find these unofficial taxis on the streets as well. You do not want to take these, as encountering a rogue driver can be a harrowing experience, such as:

  • Being overcharged
  • Being driven to a secluded location and locked up in the car unless you pay
  • or being kidnapped!

 

What to do:

At the airport, head for the official taxi counters / pick up zones by following the signs.

In Paris, there are three official taxi companies (G7, Alpha Taxi, Taxi Bleu). Learn know how to identify a real one, or simply use Uber:

 

  • A meter with the displayed price
  • A physical plaque with the license number
  • An insignia on the windshield
  • A lighted display on the roof

 

4. The meter is down / rigged meter

 

How it works:

Then there are also those who do not have a meter and charge an inflated fixed fare.

 

What to do:

We would recommend not taking any cab which refuses to use a meter.

However, knowing a rough price at least gives you the flexibility of taking these cabs without being charged an unreasonable fee.

Do some online research, check an online fare estimator, use Uber or check with your hotel staff on the best route and how much a trip should cost.

Finally, keep your eye on the meter during the trip just to make sure that it has not been tampered with.

 

5. Longhauling taxi drivers

 

How it works:

There are unscrupulous drivers who take a longer route, or drive through areas with heavy traffic to get a higher fare.

 

What to do:

Do some online research, check an online fare estimator, use Uber or check with your hotel staff on the best route and how much a trip should cost.

If you have GPS on your phone, you can use it as well to check if you are heading in the correct direction and not brought on a long route.

 

6. Helpful people at the metros

Image source: thesavvybackpacker.com

 

How it works:

This scam is common around the world (e.g. Morocco, India).

There are many variations and you just have to be alert. Below is one such scenario.

There are people who dress like train officials and offer to help you buy your train ticket. They usually work in groups of 3-4 so as to pressure you.

When these officials help you get a ticket, they actually buy the child ticket but charge you adult fare for it. If you are unlucky, you might be caught by the real train official and made to pay an exorbitant fine.

Another variation is of scammers who pick up used tickets and try to sell them to you as if they are still usable.

 

What to do:

Don’t accept unsolicited help from a random stranger. If you need help, head to the official station or check with another local / tourist who is using the machine as well.

Also, the ticket machines do not take notes, credit cards and debit cards. If someone asks you for those so as to help you buy a ticket, that should be a huge red flag.

 

C. MISCELLANEOUS

1. “Charities” and beggars

Image source: aljazeera.com

 

How it works:

Normally perpetrated by gypsies, Africans or small girls, they will appeal to your emotion and seek money for accident victims, orphanages, or simply their personal woes.

When you are distracted, their accomplices will spring into action and steal your valuables.

Some beggars also have motionless pets lying next to them so as to enhance the “pitiful” sight. Note that these pets are drugged.

The smarter beggars “hunt” for victims at restaurants. They are equipped with a piece of paper detailing their sob story and their plea for some donations.

When they reach your table, they stuff it in your face and swipe any valuables you have laid out on the table.

 

What to do:

Avoid straying into their paths, and avoid flaunting or exposing your valuables unnecessarily.

Only carry small amounts of cash in a cheap spare wallet that you wouldn’t mind losing. Do not leave it in your back pocket.

As for your valuables / emergency cash, conceal them securely in a money belt or hidden pouch and in a sturdy anti-theft bag that is slash resistant, lockable, and difficult to unzip by others. Keep your bag in front of you.

 

2. Rigged ATM machines / ATM thefts

 

How it works:

Criminals can rig the ATM machine with card skimmers to capture your card details and install a camera to capture your PIN.

Another method is to use a device that prevents your ATM card from being ejected.

The scammer will come over and try to help, and tell you that you must enter your PIN. If you do so, he will see your PIN, and then run away with your ATM card.

Another situation is that when you are withdrawing money, someone taps you to ask an innocent question in a language you do not understand.

As you are distracted, an accomplice will grab the cash when it comes out from the ATM and run off.

 

What to do:

Watch out for suspicious characters and avoid ATMs in dimly lit or secluded areas where it’s not easy to get help.

Use ATMs in controlled spaces like in the banks instead.

Also, watch out for this list of red flags on whether an ATM has been compromised:

Finally, although not directly relevant, consider using a RFID blocking wallet. That will prevent your cards’ details from being skimmed by thieves with a mobile RFID reader / scanner.

 

3. Lost soul scam

 

How it works:

A bunch of people carrying a large map will walk up to you and ask for help.

Should you attempt to help, while you are checking the map and pointing directions to them, the scammer’s accomplices will steal your valuables.

This can easily happen in restaurants / cafes / picnics as well if you had laid out your valuables on the table / ground.

The scammer will simply lay a map over your valuables and take them with the map when they go.

 

What to do:

Avoid flaunting or exposing your valuables unnecessarily.

Only carry small amounts of cash in a cheap spare wallet that you wouldn’t mind losing. Do not leave it in your back pocket.

As for your valuables / emergency cash, conceal them securely in a money belt or hidden pouch and in a sturdy anti-theft bag that is slash resistant, lockable, and difficult to unzip by others. Keep your bag in front of you.

 

4. Clumsy jogger / person

 

How it works:

They will knock into you, bump into you and next moment, you find that something has gone missing from your pocket or backpack!

By then, the jogger would have sprinted off already.

It could be a jogger, someone in the crowded market or even a passenger on the train.

 

What to do:

Stay alert and watch out for suspicious characters, though that is easier said than done in a crowded environment.

The best solution is still, to not make yourself look like a target. 

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, do arm yourself with a money belt or hidden pouch and an anti-theft bag to conceal your valuables securely.

 

5. Did you drop something?

Image source: Abir Anwar

 

How it works:

This scam has been reported at Sacre Coeur.

So what happens is that you will hear something drop nearby. Suddenly, someone would ask if you have dropped something.

The aim is to distract you so that an accomplice can steal from you without you realizing it.

Another variation is that of asking if you have dropped your wallet.

Natural reflex action means that you would check your pocket for your wallet, and this reveals the location of your wallet to the scammer.

 

What to do:

Stay alert.

And as mentioned earlier, arm yourself with a money belt or hidden pouch and an anti-theft bag to conceal your valuables securely.

 

6. Child pickpockets

 

How it works:

There are reports that 75% of pickpockets on the Paris Metro actually belong to an organised gang which “recruits” girls from age 12-16.

These girls are trained in the art of pickpocket-ing and to claim that they are 12 years old should they be arrested. This is because criminal prosecution is difficult for this age.

It has been reported that these girls are given a target of at least 300 euros a day. Else, they would be punished with beatings, attacked by knives and cigarettes and might even be subjected to rape.

Their modus operandi:

  • One will keep a lookout and block passer-bys from seeing the scene
  • Another will push or distract the target (e.g. ask you an innocent question / survey / drop something and ask you about it)
  • A third will steal your valuable / slash your bag and then passes it on
  • The last will hide the loot under a jacket / coat / newspaper and then escapes with it

There are different types of pickpockets. Some target wallets and phones, some are experts at stealing / slashing luggage and bags, while others are good at surprising / distraction techniques.

 

What to do:

Stay alert and watch out for suspicious characters, though that is easier said than done in a crowded environment.

The best solution is still, to not make yourself look like a target. 

This is because once you are targeted, you will almost definitely lose your valuables in a split second.

To make it impossible for thieves to steal from you, we recommend:

  • Carry small amounts of cash in a cheap spare wallet that you wouldn’t mind losing. Do not leave it in your back pocket.
  • Conceal small valuables securely in a slim fitting money belt or hidden pouch.
  • Store larger valuables in an anti-theft bag that is slash resistant and lockable. Keep it in front of you.
  • Keep most of your valuables in your hotel / hostel safe, which can be further secured with hotel safety tools.
  • Carry around a photocopy of your passport instead instead of the actual one.

 

 

7. Overcharging cafes and restaurants

france paris cafe

Image source: slowtravels.com

 

How it works:

Some tricks used may be:

  • Serving you the largest portions if you did not specify the size initially
  • Adding items you did not order to the bill
  • Using tourist menus, i.e. a menu with higher prices just for tourists
  • Hiding certain details in footnotes and in French

 

What to do:

Ask your hotel staff or do some online research to find a reputable establishment to eat at.

Before a meal, check the prices to ensure it has been clearly listed. Look out for fine print, especially those in another language.

After a meal, scrutinize the bill carefully. Are there extra items or charges? Are the prices listed correct?

 

8. Spilled liquid / stain scam

 

How it works:

This is a very, very common scam globally.

A scammer might spill a liquid on you out of nowhere, and then quickly attempt to help you clean up.

He will either try to steal your valuables, or distract you enough to allow his accomplice to steal your valuables.

Sometimes, it may even be just a ruse, claiming that there is a stain when there is none.

 

What to do:

Stay alert and watch out for suspicious characters.

And as mentioned earlier, protect yourself with a money belt or hidden pouch and an anti-theft bag which will conceal your valuables securely.

 

D. GETTING HELP

1. Emergency numbers to call

France police

Image source: dailytimes.com.pk

 

  • SAMU (Ambulance): 15
  • Police: 17
  • Fire: 18
  • EU wide general emergency number (can be used in any EU country): 112

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32 Comments

  1. R Flex

    These worked for me:
    1. When they asked if I dropped the gold ring I said yes and reached for it. They pulled it back and left.
    2. When I say a block away that women were pressing sprigs of herbs in tourists hands and demanding money, I pulled a branch off a bush. When they came to me I said “Oh good you want to trade and pushed my branch at them. They did not know what to do.

    Reply
    • Mo

      Be aware of the parisianist.com website! It is a scam! Do not book any thickets via this website. They will take your debit card details, will not send you any tickets and will keep taking money from your bank account!

      Reply
    • Jess

      Hahaha love it.

      Reply
  2. Mr Me

    I say names of random Canadian towns in an aggressive native accent so they have no idea what language I speak.

    “Did you drop this ring?”
    “MOOSEJAW SASKATOON EDMONTON MONCTON!”
    “Sir did you drop this..”
    “BROCKETT, MOOSEJAW, DUNMORE, YELLOWKNIFE, MOOSEJAW!!”

    Reply
    • Admin

      hahaha! easy way of getting out of trouble 🙂

      Reply
  3. opera rose

    Two weeks ago we returned from Paris and i can confirm that the above scams were fully operating on the Champs Elysees and on and around the Eiffel Tower.
    We arrived in Paris on the Eurostar- a journey i have taken many times. My son and I walked to the taxi rank and waited in the queue.
    The taxi rank supervisor indicated to us which taxi to board and out of nowhere, 2 or 3 men appeared and took our luggage without my consent and started to load up the taxi.
    The car had “taxi parisien” signage on the roof of the car.

    I do speak French so when i asked them to stop, the luggage was already locked into the “taxi” and the men asked for “service”. Before i could speak, the “taxi driver” told them to go away and then the doors locked. It was distraction.
    i realised then that we were not in a Taxi Parisien and the driver asked where we were going and after i gave him the address- he said the cost was EURO 85. There was no meter.
    The fare for this journey in a Taxi Parisien would have cost 15-20 Euro at the most.
    Not wanting to alarm my young son, i stayed calm and prayed that he would take us to our hotel and not some remote part of Paris where we would be robbed or worse.
    I paid the “taxi driver” .

    I often wonder if the taxi rank supervisor was part of the scam.

    Reply
    • Admin

      Oh my, that’s one elaborate scam not easy to get out of in the heat of the moment, particularly even more so as scammers selectively target their victims (in this case you had a young child). Thanks for sharing Opera! Am sure this will help many other readers. Hope the rest of the trip was great for you! 🙂

      Reply
    • LL

      Similar thing happened to me Opera I was with my two young boys and I said no to him several times he took me to another man who was at the door who wouldn’t let me exit the airport unless I went with the first. Charged me €150 for a trip that should have cost me €60. Tried to ask me questions about my trip gave him all false information. All the rest of the tricks listed here are also all over the place.

      Reply
  4. Ann Coward

    Any of these are new? nope. In Rome I saw the train ticket scam in operation. Carabinieri were 5 meters away. I’m not saying there is complicity, but certainly there is some level of tolerance that is peculiar

    Reply
  5. Kirsten

    Nothing will be done. The Roma’s /gypsies have destroyed paris/nice and the mouton populace seem to enjoy it as the govt appears apathetic and not do anything. Boycott until the Romas/gypsies are gone.

    Reply
  6. Scott Winters

    I’ve been to Paris twice, most recently last weekend (10/28-30/16). Most of the scams you listed were going at full force at the Eiffel Tower – Street Vendors, String Bracelets, Cup and Ball, Petitions and likely some of the others I didn’t see. One not on your list was the beer/wine/champagne vendors that surrounded the areas outside of the secured area below the Eiffel Tower. At Gard du Nord train station we also were swarmed by the illegal taxis drivers upon arrival and by a very aggressive begging gypsy when we returned. Much of this was done with no apparent concern by the Police who were usually quite close by to where all this was happening and where they could clearly see what was going on. I hate to say it, but if I never return to Paris or France in general that will be just fine.

    Reply
  7. Annonymus

    oh my …at the end of the day i was so pissed that those street vendors became so anoing that i took what they offered to me for free without payment! Just dont look like your intrested, of just tell em to fuck off! They just leave u alone the next time, trust me, These gypsys/scammers are such a pain! Police wont do anything about it!
    In such a beautiful city i expect to be not bothered! I dont think i eill be goong to paris anytime soon!

    Reply
  8. Michael

    Decided to walk from the Eiffel Tower to a nice cafe we enjoy. Being late afternoon the wide gravel path between the Sein and Quai Branly was mostly deserted except for an elderly Roma woman who approached us and “found” one of those ubiquitous rings people seem to be losing all over Paris.
    I have been aware of this scam for a long time, but have never had anyone attempt it on me before. I couldn’t help myself, but as soon as she picked it up and held it out to us I burst out laughing! We just kept on walking and the woman left us alone.

    Reply
  9. Dave

    Just got back from paris, i can also confirm these scams are still happening. I did no research on local scams before we left. we experienced the following scams.
    1. Train ticket scam.
    After landing we went to the train station at the airport, we were unsure of which ticket to buy when a man came to help us. He showed us which ticket we needed and asked if we had a travel payment card, we said no, so he put his card in the machine and produced 2 tickets for us. I was already suspicious of him and his slight of hand with the tickets was not quick enough. Not sure why but my reaction was to laugh. He calmly walked away no argument.

    2. Charity Signature scam.
    A woman asked us if we speak english, then asked us to sign a petition, i said no and she laid the guilt on thick, so much so i felt bad. I only stopped feeling bad after googling it and finding out it was a scam.

    3.Tight bracelet scam
    Guy approached us with his hands outstretched holding a noose looking bracelet, i had heard of this scam before so said no in my most french accent.

    4. Ball and cup gambling.
    Saw a few big winners who were obviously in on it, and one girl crying her eyes out because she lost. No idea how much but she was sobbing her heart out.

    5. Trinket seller
    After beating my fear of heights at the eiffel tower i was feeling good so decided to buy a memento outside, big mistake. Getting my change out of the trinket guy was an ordeal. My wife and i both had to shout at him to get my change.

    6. Airport hotel scam.
    At the airport i was litteraly about to go through security when a guy appeared claiming his flight was delayed and he had been mugged, he wanted money for a hotel stay. He was doing this right in front of airport staff who, as far as i know, did nothing.

    Still we loved paris, one of the best holidays we have ever taken, amazing scenery but very expensive, 7.50e for a beer!

    Reply
  10. Unknown

    Say “goodbye” then leave

    Reply
  11. Barbara

    A variation of the stain routine happened to me and my husband shortly after arriving in Barcelona. We were approaching a metro entrance hauling suitcases etc and someone came up to us and said we had something all over our backs. It was some kind of mayonnaise sauce squirted all over our backs. He offered to wipe it off. Not till after we were moving again did we realize that it could only have been him who squirted it on us, since no one else was close to us. We never found anything missing so we must have not been easy pick-pocket targets, though I am sure we looked like it, exhausted and feeble.

    Reply
  12. Stephen

    When I travelled around Rome, Venice and Florence I put my wallet in my front pocket. I then secured it with 2 safety pins. I never felt insecure in a crowd like this.

    Reply
  13. Kim

    I just came back from Paris and indeed faced some scams, however one in particular was very unsettling, but I could not find it here in the comments.
    I was relaxing on a wall in the park in front of the Louvre alone while my boyfriend was getting us crepes, when i was approached by a french man (I think around the age of 25-30). He looked really neat, but I didnt understand him. I told him I didnt speak French so he continued in English. But his English was really poor. He asked me all kind of question: What I did there, if it was my first time in Paris, what I enjoyed the most, what i wanted to see etc. I gave him just short answers because I could feel he wasnt up to do good. I just gave him some vague answers and told him I was chilling there waiting for my boyfriend to come back. After some minutes my boyfriend was walking towards us and the guy left without saying anything. So I was watching him leave and saw him walking straight up to some other girl who was alone.
    This was quiet unsettling, but luckily some Americans who were sitting two meters next to me where watching all the time and said they had my back. They found it strange as well.
    We stayed there for another 20 minutes and as we were watching the crowed we saw the Frenchman again together with another man who was dressed almost the same. They were scanning the crowed and went up to girls who were alone.
    So I don’t really know what they were up to, but i don’t think it was chit chatting. Does anyone know their game?

    Reply
    • Cristina

      yes! i saw it on the netflix show “scam city”. they approach girls and try to sweet talk them and get them to go out for drinks or a fun night. its almost like a competition, if you have sex with them they get one point. they wont rob you or anything, just try to have sex with you.

      Reply
    • Megan

      OMG I had the same thing, except I was actually alone, and he followed me down the road, until I yelled at him to piss off.
      He was alone in talking to me and he was Pakistani instead of French, but he took a picture of me sitting reading my book without my permission and kept asking for a photo in front of the Eiffel Tower. Then when I got up and left he was making phone calls and talking to some of the guys selling the wine and beer. Don’t know what that was about, but I found him following me while on the phone unsettling.

      Reply
  14. Helen

    There is a new one at Charles de Gaulle airport where a well dressed man with luggage will say he is Lebanese and needs €40 to change his flight… being a regular traveler and too nice and thinking I would want someone to help me in the same situation! I helped him out only to be told 5 mins later at security that he is a scammer and has a house in Nice and stays in a hotel at the airport!! My good deed turned sour… watch out for this terminal 2F.

    Reply
    • James

      Scammer at Charles de Gaulle (terminal 2F) is still going strong on 18 June 2018: Remarkably, he did not change his story. Says: I am Lebanese, live in Nice. The bank has blocked my card so I have no money to book my next flight. I have been begging for money for 1 hr, I cannot believe it, nobody will help me. Could you please do something to save my life? I would be so grateful. He asked for 30 euros. I said that I would not quite save his life by giving him money, but still ended up lending him £10, handing over my details so that he could pay it back. It seems like I might wait for a long time. Serves me right for being a decent human being.

      Reply
  15. Anon

    Problem is that local police are part of the problem. In their eyes it’s ok to fleece tourists, as it means locals will be left alone.

    Paris is a great city, but the vermin that ply their scams show what a serious lack of care the authorities have for their foreign guests.

    Reply
    • Paul may

      I’m in Lille for a short stay and it’s the tourists I see who are the problem. No locals I’ve seen hand cash over – they’re wise to the scams. It’s the tourists who hand the money over, much to the annoyance of the local traders and police.

      Reply
  16. Anna

    Came to Paris for a day trip with my family, and we were scammed for 70€ 20 minutes off of the train. As soon as we walked up to a metro machine to buy tickets, a woman in uniform approached us and asked if we needed help. She did not speak very much English, but we were able to communicate that we wanted 4 all day Metro tickets, two for me and my husband and two for my children. The woman was very fast with the machine, she quickly navigated us to a screen that said it would cost us 70€ for the tickets we wanted. We were unaccustomed to the prices in the metro, my husband had been to Paris before on a business trip but had only purchased a one-way ticket for himself at the time. The woman indicated that my husband should insert his credit card, however after he did she told us that it would not work because it was not a French credit card. Honestly, I am amazed at myself for not seeing something was wrong right there. However, the woman said she would use her credit card and we could pay her back, which, stupidly, is exactly what we did, she headed us four metro tickets and my husband gave her 70€. We thanked her and walked away. Thankfully one of the tickets was being finicky in the machine, so we went to the ticket office to get it to work, where the man informed us that we were holding 4 one-way tickets for children ages 9 and under, not all day tickets for adults and children 12 and up like we thought. The tickets we had probably cost about 5€. If we had used those, we could have been caight and fined heavily. We ended up buying the correct tickets from the ticket office, which costed us only 20€, not 70€. Lesson learned, don’t trust anyone in the subway, even those in uniform who may seem like they have good intentions, especially if they approach you and not the other way around. If you are unfamiliar with the metro, go to someone who is behind glass at the ticket office to purchase the tickets. Don’t assume you are immune to any sort of scam, the people behind them are well practiced and quick. Families should be especially careful. Although that experience left a bad taste in our mouths, we still had a nice day in Paris with our kids.

    Reply
  17. Ano

    This happened to me today actually! I was at one of the big tourist attractions with my family and while walking down the stairs I was left along and a man came up to me ,shook my hand ,and asked me where I came from. He started putting something on my finger and said that in Africa it was some sort of tradition? I didn’t know what he was saying because my family got me out of there before he did anything. I’m glad that I know all this stuff now so I know what to do.

    Reply
  18. Toro

    Oh man, reading this makes me nervous..Our family is going to Paris on October, so this really helped

    Reply
    • Peter levy

      We were in France for a couple of days in May 2018 , you just ignore the gypsies with petitions they didn’t persist, saw the three boxes and ball in action exactly as described,the other slight con was leaving the airport we were a bit lost as to which train and a english speaking frenchman assured us and a few other in same situation we were on the right train which we were, he then asked for donation but didn’t hassle

      Reply
  19. Andrew

    In Paris just today and say a new one at Sacre Coeur. I’ve seen this in Hollywood before, but this is a little less suspect. A person will walk up to you dressed as something – in my case is was a headless man (very obviously a man with a button-up buttoned over his head). He will come up an attempt to shake your hand, then use a hand signal to have a photo with him in costume. After, he will demand compensation. This also leaves you vulnerable to having your phone stolen or being pick pocketed, although I never personally saw it.

    Reply
  20. Carl Levitt

    French Bank ATM Scam – the real bank ATMs ask you to accept a conversion rate about 4-5% above the actual rate, assuming yo will agree, thinking you have no choice. Touch the “Decline” button to complete the transaction at a normal ATM rate.

    Reply
  21. Hoàng

    I had a vocation holiday in Paris for a week travel around Germany, Holland, Begulm and France. We stayed in Paris for 2 days. One visited The Place de la Concorde, the woman look like a gypsy asked me: do you speak english? I said: yes. She gave me a papper and asked me: Can you sign here sir. I anwsered: No. What kind of this trick, if i signed in this papper?

    Reply
  22. Leonard

    There is this pedicab scam where they offer to ferry you to your destination for 20 eur. Then at the end of the trip the guy will say it’s 20 eur per person.

    Reply

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