With Paris being on pretty much EVERYONES buckelist, it is one of the most visited cities in the world. With tourists everywhere in sight that means one thing, hot spot for scammers! I can’t even begin to mention the story’s I’ve heard about the scams in Paris!
So here are some of the scams that we encountered first hand while in Paris, which I hope will help you not fall into the same tourist scamming traps!
1- The bracelet scam:
We witnessed first hand, people who would come up to you and quickly grab your arm to put a thin rope bracelet on your hand, then they would do it up so tight that you can’t possibly get it off and you end up having to pay a fortune for a piece of string (firmly say no and turn your back to them so they can’t touch your hand). I took a sneaky photo of them doing this haha.
I actually started to get the shits (because it gets really annoying you just want people to leave you alone) and I got smart and started to answer them back which I shouldn’t of done, but I couldn’t help it. I actually said to the men who were blocking the pathway so I couldn’t walk past, “No! I’m not stupid, I know you’re a scam!”, yeah they wern’t too happy about that haha while one man continued yelling at me from a distance “well maybe you are stupid! I’m not stupid! You’re stupid! Stupid girl!” hahaha whoops. Yeah maybe don’t do that…
2 – The Petition/donation signing scam:
Individuals (yet clearly working in groups) of usually woman come up to you with a clipboard like cardboard with a piece of paper on it, and make up a story saying they need signatures for some third world donating charity you feel sorry for. They make you sign, then say by signing that you just agreed to donate money and they will get aggressive if you don’t (when in fact the donations are going straight to them and there is no charity at all). These people will come up to you and say “do you speak English?” I always would say a firm “NO” and keep walking.
3 – The dodgy taxi drivers scam:
Another one that happened to me when I was on a Topdeck tour 2 years ago was taxi drivers making you pay some money before you arrive to your destination. DO NOT do this! Because we had a full maxi taxi he made us all pay some money (can’t remember the amount) while we were still driving. So when we got there, he made us pay the total fair even though we had already given him money. And then because we couldn’t prove it we got ripped off. He also conveniently decided he couldn’t speak English at the perfect timing. What a coincidence! Taxis are also known for over charging and taking longer routes making the price very high.
4 – Everything else under the sun:
Pockets slashed, wallets, phones and laptops stolen and the list goes on. I personally know many people who have had some of those things happen to them! This is a very common occurrence in Paris, a lot of the time people work in teams, one comes to talk to you (distraction) while the other is secretly pinching your stuff! My advice is to wear a backpack ALWAYS with a lock, or if you have a small bag to have it strapped across close to your body and have nothing in your pockets and to be very aware of your surroundings at all times.
There are also lots of, mainly African men, (who are usually apart of international business or global value chains GVCs) pestering you at every tourist location to buy their handbags, selfie sticks (I was about to snap everyone I saw) key rings, hats, toys, lasers etc. I don’t think it was as bad as what it was when I came to Paris 2 years ago, but still awfully annoying!
NOW FOR THE CRAZIEST SCAM WE SAW IN PARIS!!!
So basically when you go to Sacre Couer, you walk up a long street which has tourist souvenir shops along both sides and lots of people in the middle of the street selling things/performing. On our way walking up to Sacre Couer we stopped from a distance to watch a scam game. There were 3 cups and 1 ball, and you have to try and guess what cup the ball is under while the guy is quickly moving them around. They clearly have other people working for them (usually a couple of guys and 1 woman who is the main person) who stands there playing the game making it look easy to guess where the ball is, so she is winning. This then attracts tourists, you place a bet, you lose, and they take your money. BOOM simple as that. Anyway we moved on and after we had looked at the Sacre Couer (after being hassled by more of these people, as mentioned above) we walked back down the street and saw an Asian couple playing the ball/cup game. We stood from a distance and watched as we heard a loud argument taking place. And before we knew it the Asian woman was hysterically crying, people were shouting, swearing, pushing and shoving. We figured out that the couple had obviously lost the game, they got angry and demanded their money back, and the people gave them money back after much argument but they gave them back fake notes! There was a local who was telling the couple “this is fake money, they are scamming you!”. The Asian woman continued crying very loudly (I think she had bet a lot of money, I’m guessing at least 50 or 100 euro if not more), while the men apart of the scam were fighting with the local who informed the tourists of the scam. Pushes, shoves and lots of swearing later, all of the scammers ran off down into a metro station (which was probably only 20 meters away) and before you knew it they had disappeared. Police rode down on pushbikes (couple of minutes too late) and discussed with the couple what had happened, and this is when we walked away as we didn’t want to get involved. So we don’t know what the outcome was but I highly doubt the couple would of gotten their money back. After all of that happening within a couple of minutes, Tyler and I looked at each other with our mouths opened in shock trying to comprehend what we had just saw! Absolutely crazy! All I can say from this is DO NOT buy anything from these people, sign anything, give anyone any money and use your common sense! It’s easy to say NO or ignore them and keep walking. After seeing this, it hits the nail on the head that you never ever know what can happen or how easily something like this can happen, if you aren’t aware of the outcomes.
I hope this has made you somewhat aware of the unfortunate negative side of Paris. Please pass this on to anyone you know planning to visit, so we help warn tourists of these scams! Ending on more of a positive note, there are so many amazing things about visiting Paris (see my “Paris – 1o must see attractions post” for more information), which we absolutely loved! I don’t want this post to sound like I’m encouraging people not to visit Paris, because that is the opposite of my intentions, but I am aiming to make people more aware of just SOME of the things that can happen while travelling here. Stay safe!
NEXT UP – COMPLETE GUIDE TO BRUGES, BELGIUM!