Four Tourist Scams You Must Know Before Heading to Paris!

March 2016

When you think of visiting Paris you probably think of the obvious sights you will see, for instance, The Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and more. What you probably weren’t prepared to see are all the tourist scams you will find at those places. Every tourist destination has them, those people lurking waiting to take advantage of those unfamiliar with the area and Paris is no exception. Here are the top four scams you need to be aware of before heading to the city of lights:

#1 – Let's make a friendship bracelet – I actually chuckle a bit at this one, not sure who came up with it and why they thought it was a great scam? If someone approaches you with colorful thread wanting to make a bracelet with you, start walking the opposite way. I found that these were some of the pushiest people; one even grabbed my husband’s arm while we were visiting the Sacré-Cœur. Needless to say, as an American, he didn’t appreciate having his personal space violated, and pulled the man’s hand off of him forcefully and walked away. I feel the best practice with these scammers is to walk quickly and try to ignore them. 

How the scam works –
A man will approach you with several pieces of string or thread and he will start asking where you are from and say he wants to make a friendship bracelet with you. If you accept he will make the bracelet so tight that you can’t get it off, he then will explain that if you pay him he will cut it off. If you say you have no money he will take you to an ATM nearby. This scam is probably one of the most forceful ones and you don’t want to get into this one, be sure to say no right away and keep walking.

 #2- Will you sign my petition? – We didn’t even have to get very far into the city for this one, we had just stepped off the train from London and we were already in the midst of scammers. For some reason this one is only women, now that doesn’t mean they will only scam women, they are ready to scam anyone, but the scammers themselves were only women. Luckily they weren’t super pushy and after a while we just breezed past them.

How the scam works –
This one plays on your sympathy and the scammers hope that because you are a visitor you will have empathy to help those in “need”. I only saw Spanish women doing this scam and they all claim they are deaf or blind. They will approach you with a clipboard claiming it’s a petition and they just need your signature. DON’T SIGN IT! Once you sign they say you owe money. I saw multiple tourists signing and then explaining they don’t have any money. The women will then get extremely mad at you and keep insisting you owe money. Luckily on this one you can walk away, but it usually turns into a big hassle. Never sign anything while on vacation, it’s just not worth it!

#3 – Did you drop something? – This is one I actually didn’t come in contact with, but I have heard stories about and it can put you in an awkward time-consuming position. If someone asks you if you dropped something (like a gold ring) and you see it’s obviously not yours, just keep walking.

How this scam works –
There are two variations of this one, the first is that they demand you pay for the “gift” you just found on the ground. The second is as soon as you bend over to grab whatever was dropped onto the ground someone uses that time of distraction to snatch your wallet. Another scam you need to just keep walking on.

#4 – Grown Up Entertainment – Once again another one on the list I didn’t actually experience for myself, but it exists and it’s pretty bad. As a general rule I would always say you should just stay away from adult entertainment in other countries. This is how people end up in trouble, bad situations and even in some cases jail because they didn’t understand what was going on or what they were or weren’t paying for. Stick to hotel room fun with your significant other.

How the scam works –
Some people (not myself lol) find they need some adult entertainment while visiting other countries, in Paris though you can get in over your head by visiting these establishments. Once inside it can seem like any other strip club, but when you try to leave you will be strong-armed into paying way more than you were told just so you can leave. They will intimidate you until you pay. Once again if you don’t have the cash, they will walk you over to the ATM and make sure you get more cash. This one can be really intimidating as I have heard that these are bouncers forcing you, not your average guys. The whole point is to really intimidate you. It’s best to just steer clear on this one.

Bottom line - no one wants to pay more than they need too while on vacation especially if that vacation is Paris. Make sure you keep an eye out for these scammers and the best piece of advice I offer is to stay clear of these scammers and keep moving. They are forceful and unpleasant to deal with if you give them any room. If you spot them change directions or just keep walking quickly and you will be just fine! Paris is a lovely city, but like any other tourist place it had its downsides. Just be careful and you will have a fabulous time!


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