17 Paris Scams Gypsies and Thieves Revealed

Read How We Got Scammed On Christmas Day >>>

I have compiled a list of 17 ways in which you could scammed or taken advantage of by Gypsies, Thieves or beggars in Paris. If you are aware of these prior to visiting Paris then it could go a long way to having a more enjoyable stay.

I have compiled a list of 17 ways in which you could scammed or taken advantage of by Gypsies, Thieves or beggars in Paris. If you are aware of these prior to visiting Paris then it could go a long way to having a more enjoyable stay.

Roving Picnic Children

This is something that happened to my wife and I while we were picnicking, and I have also seen this happen on one other occasion.

We were enjoying a picnic in Bois de Boulogne, not paying much attention and having a nice relaxing day. We saw 3 children who were no older than 11 years of age, walking up to various people and showing them a piece of torn newspaper. They positioned the newspaper right up close to each unsuspecting victim’s face to create a distraction so that they didn’t notice that their valuables were being stolen.

Foolishly, even though we saw it happening even before they got to us, we had left my wife’s new iPhone lying on the picnic blanket. By the time the children reached us, one boy started speaking aggressively in a foreign language (not French) and kneeled down on our picnic blanket. He was obviously targeting the iPhone. His hand was just centimeters from the phone when I grabbed it, stood up and feeling mad as hell I told him aggressively to leave which may or may not have involved a few curse words. The children then started spitting and yelling at me, but eventually left. My job in Australia is working with challenging children, but these guys were a whole other level of challenging.

Tip: It’s not just adults or teens who will steal from you. You need to be aware that it can be children as well sometimes.

Tip: When you are having a picnic in Paris or just relaxing, never completely drop your guard. Often you are being watched to catch you at a moment when you are not paying attention. Do not leave valuables in the open for others to see them.

Tip: If you are approached while sitting down in a vulnerable position you should probably stand up and if asked something, anything, just firmly say “NO!”. ‘No’ is a Universal word and they will get the picture immediately.

Flower Men

50% of the time these guys are not scamming you, and are simply waiting outside shows, events or romantic locations in Paris. I would stand outside the Moulin Rouge waiting to pick up my wife every night, and the same guy would ask me every night if I would like to buy a flower.

How this can become a scam is when a shady flower man gives a flower to a girl and says “flower for a pretty lady”. He will then ask another person and then come back to you asking for 5 Euro, the cost of the rose. They will chase you down as you are walking away, demanding their money. If you try and give the flower back, they will often refuse to take it but continue to demand their money. Don’t get caught out; things in Paris are rarely free.

Tip: If you wish to impress your date then by all means buy her a flower. Women love flowers, and it will certainly put a smile on her face.

Tip: If a man hands you a flower, it will not be free!

Woven String or Braided Bracelet

I have only ever seen this scam worked at the base of the Sacré-Coeur, as you walk up the stairs. Here you will find at least 2, sometimes 4 or 5 dark-skinned men blocking off each entrance to the stairs as you walk up them.

As you walk past they engage you and persist in asking you to participate in what they are doing. You may be asked to put out your finger or expose your wrist, and they will proceed to plait a piece of cotton around your wrist or finger. Once finished, the ornament will be tied off and they will then ask you for money. If you refuse, they then become angry and then instigate Plan B.

Plan B of the Scam is that while you are arguing with them, 1 or 2 other dark men approach you and start manhandling you. This is the point where your phone or wallet is stolen, or you give in and give them a few dollars just to allow you to leave safely.

This is one of the more aggressive scams in Paris, and you really need to be on the lookout. I can’t say whether this scam is worked in other places as well as the Sacré-Coeur, however these scammers are there every day without fail, and occasionally they are chased away by police.

Note: I have heard of the Roma scammers performing this in Montmartre as well, but I have never seen it. This is a news article which tells a story of the Paris police commissioner being assaulted by a group of these scammers.

Watch as the female tourist get surrounded by bracelet scammers

Tip: Say “No” and keep walking, if you ignore them for long enough they will stop following you. If you say “No” as if you know what they are doing, they will most often move on the next unsuspecting victim. They can’t make victims of everyone.

Tip: Be extremely aware if you are being engaged by two men at the same time.

Tip: It’s easy to go around the long way and to walk up the side stairs to the Sacré-Coeur, however I prefer to not to allow them a victory, and just walk straight through their group. They may also approach you while you are taking pictures at the bottom of the stairs.

Paris signature scam
Photo Author | Quinn Dombrowski

“Do You Speak English?” Scam

This is a quite passive way for a Gypsy or Roma woman to make some money from tourists. You will be approached by a young woman and asked “Do you speak English?” If you co-operate and say “Yes”, they will either share a rehearsed storyline, which will be an attempt to tug at your heart strings, and at the end ask you for money. More commonly they will hand you a piece of paper which has the sob story written on it.

I have seen this worked at many places; the Eiffel Tower, Sacré-Coeur, Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysees just to name a few. The reason I say it is passive is because you do not usually feel pressured or intimidated and if you are aware, it’s easy to just say “No” aggressively.

Tip: This an easy one; don’t ever say “Yes”. They don’t need directions or assistance of any kind, and there is only one thing on their mind, and that’s to get your money.

Charity Signature Campaign

I have seen groups of Roma teenagers as well as dark adult men performing this scam. I am sure this is worked in more places, but I have seen it in the Latin Quarter and at Montmartre.

This Paris scam involves being asked to sign a petition for the starving people in Africa. The scammers will often claim to be working with a specific charity, however they are in plain clothes and show no identification whatsoever.

If you do sign the partition they will then ask you how much you wish to donate to them. If you tell them that you don’t wish to donate, they then say “But you have signed. You have to pay” or something along those lines. If you give them money and ‘donate’, you can almost be assured that not a cent will go towards the charity that is being named.

Paris Gamling Scam
Photo Author | Nelson Minar

Sleight-of-Hand Gambling

This is a scam in Paris where there is a man with a cardboard box and three round rubber discs. Under these rubber discs will be one white spot, and you are asked to pick the disc which has the spot under it. My wife’s family and I sat at a café in Paris and watched these guys performing this scam over and over again taking everyone’s money. You will not win at this game.

The scammer is very practiced at hiding the white spot, yet even if you are about to choose the right one you will be prevented from doing so by his team mates. That’s right! The dealer has one or two other scammers working with him pretending to be players, and who run interference to stop you winning.

When there is no one gambling they act as lucky winners that just keep winning all time. When you are playing the game they will swoop and take your disk if you are about to win, and claim that they have won.

I have seen this in Montmartre only, but I have been told by friends that they have seen it worked elsewhere.

Tip: Keep you money and buy a beer or a coffee, you will never beat the scammer otherwise they would not continue to work the scam.

Tip: Find a good seat and check out the theatrics of his inside men. This is quite entertaining to watch.

The Gold Ring Scam

This is an oldie but a goodie. If you have ever been to Europe then you have probably heard or seen this scam. This is worked almost anywhere in Paris and is usually performed by a gypsy/Roma Woman.

The woman will pick up a gold ring in delight and say something like “Oh my luck day!” and then proceed to ask if you dropped it or if it is yours. You will probably say “No”, and then she will just give it to you. In return she will ask for a few dollars in exchange for her kindness, a finder fee.

This ring is not gold nor does it have any monetary value at all, and honestly I have never seen anyone give them money. I have no idea how they make money on this scam but I guess as the saying goes “There is one born every minute”.

Skip to 1m40sec to see this lady perform her scam

Homeless Citizens

I would not call this a scam, but there appears to be dishonesty involved. I would also like to start by saying that I have given loose change to some homeless people on occasion. This is an all too familiar sight in Paris and you will often see them with dogs and cats. I have even seen two cats lying on a dog.

The reason why I thought it needed to be mentioned is that I a lot of the times these guys work in shifts. I always walked the same route every day, and along the way there is a beggar who has a sign which says words something like “I am sick with a certain disease and need money for medication”. I have seen the man change from day to day but still have the same sign and sit in the same spot. I have also seen a man with dogs and cats rotate from day to day.

This is not to say that they don’t need the money but just be aware that it’s not all black and white. In fact on another occasion a lady used to ask me for money every night when I walked Megan home from work. Then a couple of weeks later we saw her buying beer after beer at the local Irish pub.

Street Sellers or Vendors

key chain seller at eiffel tower
Photo Author | Daniel Lobo

The street sellers in Paris often walk around populated areas such as the Eiffel tower selling little drinks, handbags, trinkets and replica Eiffel tower key rings. Megan and I laugh when they all pack up their goods and start running when someone spots a police officer. These sellers or vendors will first lay a sheet on the ground and place their merchandise on top in a way which means they will be able to make a quick getaway if necessary. These people roam the area with large key chains full of Eiffel tower trinkets, or sell cheap water and/or beer on a hot day.

Yes it’s true that you can barter them down and get three key rings for a dollar, but technically it is illegal for you to buy from them however I have never heard of anyone being charged. If you are wondering why it is illegal for them to sell and why they always run away when the police are near, it might be because;

  1. These street sellers do not have a vendor’s license which means they do not pay tax and this in turn affects the economy, and as well it takes genuine income away from the legitimate souvenir sellers.
  2. Some of the time these guys are running because they are not only trading illegally but are in fact illegal immigrants.
  3. My boss once told that there is also a copywrite issue involved when producing and selling Eiffel tower replicas, and that this is a very good reason why they run. All the trinkets these guys offer are imported from china and sold to these venders illegally.

If you are interested you can read about the 60 tons of miniature Eiffel towers that were seized in Paris.

This is an interesting video about the day as a street seller in Paris

Tip: If you are going to buy from street vendors, which I don’t recommend, then understand that they should settle for less than the original price they gave you. If not, then move on to the next street seller.

Metro Busker

This is not so much a scam, but something to be aware of. These people are trying to get your money illegally, in the eyes of the French government. I you want to busk in Paris then you need to apply for a permit and you have to specify times and places where you will perform.

I think for the rare tourist the metro busker can be quite appealing and some may enjoy them. But having lived in Paris for a while whenever I see them get onto the train I instantly cringe. The most common ‘entertainer’ is an accordion player, but I have seen others with Karaoke machines, guitars, ukuleles, and even a guy throwing a sheet over the rail for a puppet show. Some are quite good but a lot of them are very bad and have obviously only learned 2 or three tunes.

Metro Buskers usually stay for one song and 2 or three train stops. When they are finished they will ask people for money. You will then see them leave the train and get back on to the next carriage where they perform the same routine.

Tip: These guys are harmless and if you don’t wish to give money you can just politely say ‘No’.

Tip: If you see a man or lady get on the train with no instrument and start yelling at the whole train then this is not a busker. For the most part these people are either yelling their religious or political views, mentally ill or both.

Gypsy Beggars

You will commonly see the Roma Gypsy beggars on the Champs Elysees, usually on their knees face down with a sign placed in front of them, or maybe just a collection hat or plate. While they are not aggressive will not bother you while you go about sightseeing or passing through, they definitely fit into the beggars list for this post.

RER Beggars

This type of beggar is mostly only seen when you ride a TGV or RER to somewhere outside of Paris. We have twice encountered this since living in Paris. The first time a man was walking through our carriage handing out a business card which had printed on it that he lost his job and has a wife and kids etc. He either placed it on the spare seats or handed it directly to passengers. In our case he handed it to us. Once he had handed them all out, he came back to collect his card and also to collect money from anyone who would give him some.

The second experience we had was very similar except this time it was a young teenage girl and a boy who would have been no older than 10 years of age. They also handed out similar cards which stated “My brother and I are homeless and have no food tonight…”

It is worth noting that in both of these cases the cards were not hand-written but printed, and so they had gone into some effort and expense and probably had thousands of them. I cannot comment or speculate on whether their stories were true or not, however these people and their behaviour definitely entitles them to make it on this list. My thoughts are, give money at your own discretion, but I have not seen any threatening behaviour with this form of begging.


Metro Pick Pockets

For the three years I have lived in Paris I have seen people pickpocketed 3 or 4 times, and each time it has happened the victim has been a tourist. The act was always committed just as the train doors closed, so the victim did not have time to realise that it had even happened before it was too late. The thief was always a young male of varying age, and they were always very quick. Whenever you are riding a metro you do need to pay close attention to your luggage and know where your valuable belongings are.

Tip: A small backpack or your handbag sitting at your feet is like taking candy from a baby for a pick pocket.

Tip: A wallet in your back pocket is another target that you have painted on yourself. If you have a zip pocket at all, this would be your best bet to preserve your wallet and everything in it.

Tip: If you can prevent it, try not to pull your wallet out and expose it while you are on the metro as it could be an easy snatch or show the pickpocket where you keep it.

Tip: Be aware of the situation and protect your belongings, especially when the doors of the train are open.

Clumsy Jogger

The clumsy jogger has a target, usually a tourist with quite a bit of luggage. The jogger pretends to stumble into the tourist, apologizes and helps the tourist back onto their feet. In the meantime an accomplice is in the process of stealing their luggage while the tourist is distracted, or the runner takes off with some of the luggage while the distraction is taking place. I have only ready about this method of thievery but never seen it, so unfortunately I can’t offer much advice. My guess is that once you become a target it is likely that you are going to lose something, so my tip is to keep your most valuable possessions on your body, and travel light.

Street Muggings

Since living in Paris I know of three people who have been robbed while walking the street and yet the areas they were in did not have a bad reputation for muggings. On one occasion the lady, a friend of ours, was walking into her building at night after work and a robber followed her in the apartment complex and robbed her at knifepoint. This would be a frightening experience for anyone aside from the fact that that the robber spoke French and the victim did not.

The other occasion was when another friend was about 10 meters away from walking through a door to start basketball training with our team. He was texting on his iPhone and was approached by three teenaged male thieves.   One said “Give me your phone and we won’t hurt you.” He replied “No”, so they then punched him and kicked him until he gave up the phone. A short time later, a bit bruised and shaken, he was practicing with the team!

Tip: Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. Make sure you are not being followed, and if you think you are step into the nearest hotel or shop. My wife and I have been followed home a few times, but fortunately managed to avoid any ambush by taking this action.

ATM Distraction

This actually happened to a friend of mine but I have since realized that it is more common than I first thought. Apparently it is a common thing for adolescents and teens to distract the person who is drawing money out of an ATM while someone snatches the money from the other side. It only takes a split moment, causing you to look in another direction from a distraction and some quick hands can take your money.

Tip: There are a lot of banks in Paris where you can walk into a security camera room in order to use an ATM and withdraw money. If you are in a run-down area, or there are shady-looking people around avoid using ATMs located along the sidewalk.

Sleeping Thief

This is also something I have read about and seen on the news, but this type of thief pretends to be asleep on a nearby bench or table and waits some to unsuspecting tourists to sit down for lunch. Paris picnic areas and tables are places where people relax, eat lunch, rest their feet after lots of sightseeing and walking, and all they are thinking about is taking a break, getting some rest, or planning what to do next. Someone sleeping nearby hardly appears to be a threat, but this is the perfect situation for a ‘sleeping’ purse snatcher to assess their prey.

My Two Cents

Paris is such an easy place to scam and steal from people that you can be sure that you will see it at some point in your stay, but hopefully you will not be the victim. Please don’t let the thieves or scammers, who are no more than criminals, spoil your trip. One of the most common items stolen from people is their passport. If your passport is stolen you can be sure that the rest of your trip will be very stressful, running around trying to sort out how you are going to be able to get home, making police reports and waiting at the Consulate.

Paris is a beautiful city and the goal for your stay is to have an amazing time. My advice is to take note of all the different Paris Scams, Gypsy’s and Thieves listed above and be aware so you don’t get caught out being careless. I can tell you from experience, and I have been required to do this a number of times, the best way to avoid this behaviour being aimed at you is not to engage in any kind of eye contact and to avoid any verbal interaction other than the word NO!!!


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I am an australian citizen but consider my self as a local when it comes to knowing about paris. I have lived there with my wife for a few years and quite simply fell in love with the city, culture and the people. I would like to try and help others to see what i saw without incuring any of the hard lessons i had to when i first arrived.


  1. A great list. We had the gold ring scam and the petition one tried on us. We knew about them so did not bite. one that you can add to the list is the guy who stands at the taxi rank, when you get off the train from London. He hails you a cab, which would have pulled up anyway and gets irate if you give him anything less than 10 Euro. Apparently he is not official and you are not required to pay him anything. I shall share this to facebook.

    • 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!

  2. A variation on the ATM scam is someone will stand close behind you watching you enter your pin number. Once they see you type the number the card is more valuable to steal than the cash you’re taking out.

    Anyway, when someone is distracting you, you can be sure there’s another one standing behind you that you don’t notice.

  3. They are called RAKAIs or sometimes they are ROMS. They are together, they cteal for food or money. SNCF security is fast enough and catches them often too.

    • I have heard them called Roms or Roma people but never heard them called RAKAI’s nor can i find anything on google by this name. the name Roms and Roma is often mistaken for Romanian immigrants but in fact Roms and Roma Gypsies are from all over europe and are originally for Northern Indian origin.

      id also like to point out that this is not just about, Roms, Roma etc… its also about general scammers and thieves.

  4. I hope everyone planning on going to Paris will read your website. I recently returned from my lifelong dream of backpacking Europe. I saved for almost 10 years for this trip. When I first arrived in Paris I thought about staying a week before activating my Eurail pass which would only be good for 30 days. However the first two days I was there I got approached SO many times by pickpockets, mostly men wanting to tie a string around my finger. I got so sick of it and went ahead and activated my Eurail pass to get the heck out of Paris. I traveled to 9 different countries in 30 days and enjoyed it so much. Then I returned to Paris, and the crap started again. Every where I went (I am a woman travelling by myself) I was approached by someone trying to rob me, and I prided myself on not being a victim. But then, two nights before leaving, I was at the metro station late at night (after a wonderful day of seeing beautiful things (and avoiding pickpocketers)) and 3 men kept trying to talk to me, asking me where’s my hotel. I got scared and kept moving away from them. I was so alarmed when I turned around and saw them following me. I got on the subway hoping that I was away from them, but then they got on the subway too and surrounded me. Again I moved away which they let me. When the train stopped I got off and took off really fast because I was scared. Suddenly I got hit really hard from behind into an exit bar. I took off running (it was the fastest and longest I’ve ran in years!) When I got back to my hostel I noticed my camera was gone. It’s been devastating. The camera I don’t care about, but the memory card had over 3000 pictures of my once in a lifetime (I am 49 years old) trip backpacking trip through Europe. It has been devastating. I’ve made a police report hoping it may get recovered, emailed the metro lost property section,… it is such a loss I can’t tell you. What I hate most is that clearly Paris is infested with this kind of crime and nothing is being done about it.

    • im really sorry this happened, it can be a brutal city if you are unlucky. they particularly target target tourists that are alone and even more so if you are a woman. it is a beautiful and amazing city but there are a number of bad eggs ready to spoil you trip. its for this reason that i hope this page really helps other to avoid stories like yours.

  5. I found this site when trying to figure this one:

    On the RER-A train, a lady boarded with 2 dogs, she walked her car through the car, turned to face everyone and said a little speech (in French, which I did not understand), then came back through the car with her dogs, hand extended, clearly expecting money (I didn’t see anyone pay her) and got off at the next stop

    I was curious what this was all about, we thought maybe she was going to have the dogs do tricks, but the dogs just sat quietly by her side. So I’m not sure if she was telling a tale of her own hardship and why she needed money, or if maybe she was talking about rescuing the dogs and why *they* needed money.

    • yeah i have had this many times and most of the time they are all saying something very different but the same. if they jump on the train and do this without asking for money they are often preaching a religion or belief. however usually they are simply stating that they have not job, or have kids who are hungry etc.. weather or not they are telling the truth i am not sure as there are always many people in need in paris. im not sure i would class this as a scam more a people begging for assistance. if you trust that they need help and what to assist then why not. many of my friends in paris always empty their pockets of change.

  6. We witnessed a nasty scene today on our way by taxi from the CDG airport to Le Marais. We were on E15 freeway from the airport near where you go under the ring road. There we saw a number of timber dwellings just under the ring road itself and a little way further on the freeway were half a dozen gypsy men and women ( one young girl watching) attempting to wash car windows. The traffic was heavy and the cars stationary. They were targeting vulnerable people particularly women and if they did not pay sufficiently attempted to break their windscreen wipers and banging hard on the glass windows. Essentially a form of extortion with a threat of physical violence. I spoke to the taxi driver and he said it is now happening commonly. Beware!

    • wow thats terrible. i have seen these guys alot and they have been aggressive however i have not seen them that aggressive. there are are a number of slums around paris which little home made shanties. the issue is very deep and many people advocate for the rights of gypsey such as these however im not sure what the solution for issus such as this could be. i would not want to be in the shoes of both parties. I count my blessing often!

    • Thats what happend to us also, exactly at this location. We had to stop at the red light and around 3-4 young gyspie kids ran to our car and knocking very hard with their cleaners at our windows, from all sides, i was worried that the glass will break. And at the front there was a kid, maybe 6-7 years old who was knocking on the cars frontlights very hard. The gypsie kids were very aggressive. I wasnt sure about my exit Strategy, iam pretty sure that if i had reacted aggressive myself, they had destroyed something at the car and had ran off. So i stayed calm and shouted, “ok ill get you some money, wait.. and looked in the car for money to get time for the light gets green. Ill finally found one euro, opened the window a bit, the kids were screaming -10euro,10euro. I threw the euro out of the window, one kid tried to hit me with his fist, but it was like a fly. Then i drove off very fast. Please dont drive this road to Marais! This place really sucks. Next time i go to Paris i will have some Pepper Sprays. Paris is a really nice City, but they have a real Problem with Criminals all Coleure. Greetings from germany, and sorry for my english..

  7. What is seriously being done to rid Paris/Nice etc…. Of these gypsy/Roma vermin/thieves? The French are either too PC or apathetic, or both? Disgusting.

    • unfortunately there does not seam to bee a solutions the moment. when we were scammed on christmas day the police officer told us that if one of the roma gypsys are caught as they are illegal immigrants they are given a small amount of money and put on a plane back to their home country. its at this point that they simply begin their journey back to paris. also a big problem is that many of the gypsys dont have a home country to send them back to or it very hard to find out where they come from as they dont necessarily come from Roma, they could have originated in any number of European countries but wont disclose it to police and dont have passports. so which country is willing to claim them!

      personally i have no idea what the could be done it there is alot of politics in play, im not sure the responsibility lies only on the police though.

  8. Today, we got scammed eith the guy who changes the cups and you have to guess where the ball is. My wife and I passed by them with our 3 month old baby. From far away my wife said middle one. He approced us and said confrats this moneynis yours but show me you have $100. First I said I only have $20 but later told my wofe tonshow him a $100 and he will goce the euros. Here is where the scam starts, he took the $100 amd then asked dor another $300 saying I am just keeping this so whatever anyone bets you will have. Not knowing what he was doing and just to get the $100 back my wife gave him the other $300. Right away he says choose the cup, the ball was not there and he ran off. We should have been more alerted when taking out the money but coming from Canada it is very dissapointing that a country like France has a bunch of scumbags in a tourist area and nothing is being enforced.

    • Oh man thats a really disappointment Amir, im sorry to hear you got caught out. with any luck your story will help others be more prepared in this situation. I hope you were able to look past this discrepancy and enjoy the rest of your stay.

      • no i dont think you should go with a taxi in this situation. shuttle services such as super star travel offer cheaper prices than a taxi for a private shuttle and you dont have to deal with the rude taxi drivers. also you never know when the taxi drivers a ripping you off in paris. with alot of luggage a shuttle driver will greet you and help you with bags as soon as you exit customs. (in a nut shell, avoid taxies at all costs at airports in paris if you can, i have never had a good story to tell about)..

  9. Very nice article – very informative and at the same time eye opener.
    I was in Paris today and found another violent act of mugging at the signal near Port de la chapelle.
    The beggars (Syrian refugees or pretenders) stand at the signal, and try to clean the windshield of car. if you say no and don’t pay – they threaten to break the wiper or mirror. I just honked and got rid of them – but not without few punches on window.
    If they are real Syrian refugees – then they have just lost one sympathizer.
    if anyone of your reader going through that route – click pics or make a video – that might come handy in case reporting to police or worst case claiming for damages from insurance company.

    have a safe trip to paris ..!!

  10. Brilliant article, really helped. So I just wanted to leave this here because my friend and I experienced a new scam going around Paris right now. On our first day, we needed to use the Chatelet Metro station. When we approached the map outside, a young man (around 23 to 27 years old) approached us. He was wearing a lanyard, which we didn’t see up close. He seemed extremely friendly, in fact too friendly. He bombarded us with ‘help’ asking us what we needed and where we needed to go. He then told us where to go and then seemed to leave us alone. But once we were at the auto ticket station, he approached again and ‘helped’. Since we had a considerable amount of naivety, we accepted. I put in my bank card and put in my pin. He then distracted me, telling us the machine only takes French cards. He then quickly faked putting in a ‘bank card’ into the machine, stating that he will buy them for us. The whole point is to distract you whilst the machine is giving the tickets which you actually paid for, yet he claimed to pay for them. Once this happens, he says you must pay him back for ‘paying’ for the tickets. Us being first time travellers and our first day, we paid him. Therefore we ended up paying double for our tickets. The same occurance happened today at the same station, with a different man. We politely refused (us being two girls in an empty station), and he came back again and again. When we were buying tickets he became extremely aggressive and told us to leave the station. He acted as if he was an offical. This may seem obvious to some, but for first time travellers beware. They put on a bloody good act

    • Hey dan thanks for the information on your bad experience. dont feel so bad because after living there for almost 4 years myself and my father inlaw got scammed by almost the exact situation and i saw at least 4 others get scammed by them as well. I do plan to write about out experience with this scam as well. it is just so believable because the had official lanyards, were wearing suits and gelled up hair. Then new age of scamming hey!

  11. Me and a friend had the same experience a month ago. It was one of the worst interactions I had with people ever. We were stationary at the traffic stop and saw two females and a bigger male running directly towards us through the traffic (they must have seen a foreign license plate & relatively new car that I borrowed for the roadtrip). They were handling a sponge and a wiper so even before they got to us we already gestured NO – to no effect. Some water was thrown on the front window and right after they were banging on the door windows for money. It was madness: one female was actually standing in full front of the car, preventing us from driving off for when the light would turn green, the other female was pulling and pushing with some force on the right wing mirror, the guy would be extremely aggressive and punching the car/mirror/window with his window wiper – on a damaging level. So we gave 2 euros as that was what we had in the cupboard, but it was not enough. “20 euros”, wtf !! So at this point there was a lot of yelling/honking but the man insisted and actually tried to throw a punch in my face, meanwhile the females were still blocking the car & threatening to break the side mirrors. This went on for way too long in my memory and then they let us go after we claimed we did not have the money.
    Anyway, this was truly a horrific experience and if this is a recurring/known thing then I totally do not understand why the Paris police does nothing about it. These are straight up extorting you in full daylight, threatening with physical violence (car but also you in person), how is this possible?? Paris really went to shit the last 10-15 or so years..

    • That is horrific story, its people like this that take the beauty out one of the most amazing cities in the world.

  12. Hey Dan ,great blog
    When we first arrive in Paris via the Eurostar we got scammed by the taxi driver .one man quickly hustled us to a cab down in the parking lot .he took us down a very small elevator about 3 floors down to the parking garage to a taxi it seemed very gloomy like in the movies .
    We were about 10 mins or less from our hotel but the taxi driver told us it’s about 45 mins and would cost about 75 euros .while driving he began writing a receipt for 84 euros and handed me the receipt . I didn’t pay him until I reached the hotel but I saw him looking back at me thinking I would take out money,when we arrived at the hotel I paid him and he was still looking at my wallet for a tip .
    I came to find out that trip was only about 15 euros . I am happy that I only lost some money because it could have turned into a robbery.i realized that he could have taken us to any lonely spot and robbed us.

  13. Beware of the sign in the metro that says, “beware of pickpockets.” The pickpockets themselves put the signs up. Most people seeing the sign pat their hip pocket/vest pocket/pants pocket, or whatever, to make sure their wallet is still there. All they have done is tell the pickpocket where you keep your wallet!

  14. I stayed at Hotel Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg, which is probably the safest hotel in Paris because of the US Embassy. There are blockades with police at both ends of the street. One afternoon, my wife and I walked towards Place de la Concorde. A mother****** in a hoodie came up to me and pointed to his own chest and said “Police, Police!” I do not believe police in Paris wear hoodie as uniform and asked him to F-off. I was ready to kick his ass if he dared to touch me or my wife. My advice is “Don’t talk to any stranger on the street.”

  15. We just got back from Paris and ran into two scams. One was the young gypsies teens with clipboards petition scam. We were warned by a German tourist that there was a group of them just ahead of us and sure enough they approached us and actually tried to put the clipboards in our faces and straight out grab my wife’s purse. Unfortunately they have never met my wife and the wrath that they incurred was too much and they fled. My wife made a point off sticking two fingers point blank a quarter of an inch in front of the girls eyes and yelling obscenities at her. Meanwhile a guy came from behind towards me but could not get close enough without me being able to push him into the oncoming traffic and backed up. The other scam that we found others as well as us fell for was the taxi ride at the train station. A well dressed man approached us and asked if we needed a taxi. He then escorted us downstairs to where the taxi’s are parked and introduces us to our driver. The first give away that things were not what they seem was that the drivers car had no taxi sign on top nor printed on the doors. Once inside there was no metering as well. I told him our hotel and asked him how much would it cost and he said Not much and drove on. He took us on a round about long route to the hotel and demanded 95 Euros when we arrived. We paid him. The hotel informed us it is normally no more than twenty Euros and that you should only ever get into a marked car. As well when getting a cab from the hotel always ask what make and color the cab will be. They sometimes wait outside hotels for unsuspecting tourists pretending to be cabs.

    • Im glad you got away from those bloody gypsies without any loss of injuries and hey now you have a great conversation piece. As for the taxies i have heard about this in other European countries however have not heard about it in Paris. thanks for the heads up. im sure others will benefit from you stories. PS.. i always recommend downloading the Uber app as soon as you land in Paris. The drivers are the best. they are cheap, friendly and you can rate them after your ride. also if all the taxies go on strike which they do all the time you know uber will never go on strike.

  16. Paris is a multicultural city and it will continue to degenerate and become even more dangerous.
    I advise all tourists to head to Central Europe instead.
    Budapest is the new Paris, the way Paris should be. Clean streets, happy families, safe tourists, and it’s cheaper, too. Honestly, anyone who prefers Paris to Budapest is insane.

    • honestly i have been to both and on some level i can agree with you that Budapest is amazing and beautiful and we absolutely loved our time there. on the other hand there is no way that Budapest can offer the cultural and historical experience that Paris can. yes i know its easy to jump on the band wagon and be scared about all the negative things in this article but that is not the point of this article at all.

      The point of this article is give people the know how to spot the scams and danger when they go to paris so they can enjoy the amazing city of Paris the ways that 90percent of tourist do. there is a reason people keep coming back year after year and it because of its culture, history and endless beauty.

  17. Greg,
    I read your blog a few hours too late…I just got the Sleight-of-Hand Gambling scam in Montmatre by the Sacre Cœur….I would have not approached this group of people, except that there was this woman there, and that made me feel safer (I’m a woman traveling with my son)
    They probably, got me for $170 and when I had given them all the cash I had with me they suggested I go to the ATM and get more money out so that I could get the money he was holding for me back. I went to the ATM machine but once I returned I realized what was going on and told him that he had just stolen my money and that I wanted it back…I took their picture with my cell phone (only got 2 out Of the 4) and told them that i was going straight to the police. At which point they rapidly disappeared.
    I found a security guard nearby and told him what had happened and showed him the pics that I had and their response was that they know this is going on and there is nothing they can do…REALLY? I can’t believe that they let them continue with this robbery.
    I love Paris, but this is VERY, VERY disappointing.
    I hope people traveling to Paris read your blog before venturing out, instead of after, like I did!

    • yes im sorry to hear that unfortunately the is absolutely nothing the police can do because most of them are illegal immigrants so they put them on a plane give them a few dollars and send them back the their country, they visit some relative in their home country and then make their way back to paris. this is their punishment and in he end it costs the french government an arm and a leg to arrest them. this is why police are not interested in getting the.

      dont let these criminals ruin your memories of Paris and try to take comfort in the fact that you are not the first and not the last to be scammed in Paris. Your just paid $170 dollar to add a really cool story to your book of life and it will only make you more wise in the long run. i hope you had a great trip aside from this.

  18. I was in line at the Louvre today and watched a guy fill a plastic bucket with water from one of the fountains. We watched him walk to a bench where a friend of his had several empty (used)water bottles set up. He dumped the fountain water into the bottles, sealed them up, and both men split them up and went off to sell them.

    Those jerks could give someone a disease!!

    • Wow i cant are you serious? a bottle of water over there is so cheap and even if they sold them for 1 dollar they would still be making 75cents. that is disgusting and i know i though about buying those bottle many times, thankfully i didnt. on a separate not if you see one of those green vintage style water fountains in paris, they are actually made for people to drink from and fill up their water bottles. If it was just a fountain at the louvre then i have no idea how drinkable that is. thanks for your impute it has been very eye opening.


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