Tourists Scams to avoid in Paris

Scams to avoid in Paris

Paris is a city with multiples aspects, between arts, architecture and romance, there’s a lot to see in Paris.

So much it can get overwhelming. And while this can be a pleasant experience among all those wonderful experiences and landmarks you will visit as in every big city there are scammers ready to turn your holidays into a nightmare. And this during every season of the year, so whenever you visit Paris you can never know if you will stumble upon one of them!

Here are all the commons tourists’ Scams to avoid in Paris.  While Paris isn’t exactly a dangerous place to visit for tourists or locals, and no, there’s no such thing as no-go zone despite what the American’s news was claiming a while ago.

The steady flow of people visiting Paris throughout the year can bring some malicious, nasty persons that will try to take advantages of tourists (and even locals to be honest) and scam them for their own benefit.
In this post, you will learn about the most “popular” and common scams that you can find in the French Capital (and elsewhere) so you can avoid those scams during your holidays in Paris.

Scams to avoid in Paris
Sacré Coeur – Montmartre

Tourists scams to avoid in Paris

#1 “Friendship” Bracelet

When you’re walking in  Paris, some very tactile people might try to catch your hand to wrap around your wrist a cool friendship Brazilian bracelet, all handmade and free because that’s the power of friendship. Not.
They’re really fast so before you might even understand what happened to you they might already be wrapping the bracelet around your wrist.

Aside from the intrusion of your personal space, which let’s face it is never cool, that’s not where it stops.
Once they’re done with the bracelet and shoving done your throat meaningless talk to make sure you stay with them the whole time, well, the bracelet is no longer free you need to pay for it.

Yes, they want you to pay for something they forced on you.  Crazy right?

Of course, you can say no and refuse to pay because you shouldn’t pay anyway. In this case, they will get angry and rip the bracelet off. All you have to do now is to keep going.
The best thing to do is to stay away from them, and if you do get “caught” wiggle your arm or hand and walk off without listening to them.

A popular spot where you can find this type of scam :

  • Montmartre / Sacré Coeur – They’re usually on the staircases.
  • Near the Eiffel Tower
Scams to avoid in Paris
View over Paris from the Sacré Coeur – Montmartre

#2 Fake Petition

The title says it all.
This popular tourist scam is usually performed by young eastern women, as I guess people feel more emphatic towards women? Anyway.
They are wandering around most of the iconic landmarks approaching passerby trying to get them to sign their petitions for the deaf and mute people, as they pretend they are themselves too.

Although, they are not, and when they do talk it’s quite nasty, only to attack or curse at people, that’s when you wish they were actually mute. I mean it’s never nice to be endlessly cursed at for 5min.

Technically there is nothing wrong with signing a petition. However, if you do decide to sign their petition that’s when they ask you for a donation for their ’causes’ which you are in right to agree or not, but that money won’t help them or any charity in anyways.

If you do refuse you might want to be careful as they sometimes decide to help themselves out anyway and pickpocket. Or even if you said yes and offer them 5€ for example they won’t let you go until you give them more as 5€ isn’t enough for them. I see a lot of confused tourists falling for this trap so please if you see people getting scammed by these in Paris try and help them.

A few years ago a friend of mine got into an argument with a very persistent lady, and as we were leaving she shoved her hand right down her pants aiming for her back pocket, that was quite a scene.

Popular spots where you can find this type of scam :

  • Le Louvres
  • Famous Bridges (Pont des Arts, Pont Alexandre III…)
  • And so on…! They hit nearly all the famous landmarks.

They can also approach you while you’re on Café’s Terrasse, for example, if you let your phone on the table you might want to be careful if someone approaches you, because, before you even notice your phone might be gone.

Once she (it’s usually girls as people are less likely to be mistrustful about young girls for some reasons) catches your attention she will proceed to put whatever papers she has in her hands on top of your phone, or anything valuable you may have left on the table, to discretely grab it. So, be careful.

#3 Fake Taxi

This scam is working around the airport or any big station (for example Gare du Nord with the Eurostar and Thalys, the flow of tourist is important) you freshly landed in Paris looking for a taxi to drive you into the city or to your hotel.

This is where some stranger driving around the airport or scouting the inside of the airport looking for targets will offer you to come into their car because they are going into the city as well/ or they have their own taxi business. So they gently offer to take you with them in exchange for a small fee less than the normal Uber/Taxi.

Which obviously by the time you reach your destination will have been decoupled if you even reach your destination at all that it. Always be extra careful before hopping into anyone car. Ask what’s your name if you’ve ordered!

Never hop into someone’s car that you can’t be sure if it’s an actual taxi driver or an Uber.

This practice is not only illegal, but it will also cost twice as much if not more from a regular Taxi and god knows there are already pretty expensive…and that would be the best outcome, you can never know if you stumble on a psychopath! We may be in 2019 but human trafficking is still a thing so always be careful and help anyone you might suspect to be in trouble.

If you don’t want to take the RER through and taxi/uber are too costly for you, you can always use the ROISSYBUS, safe, legal and cheaper!

Scams to avoid in Paris
Jardin des Tuileries – next to Le Louvres

READ: 10 TRAVELS MISTAKES TO AVOID 

#4 Bonneteau

Do you know that little game with three cups and a little ball where you need to find under which cup the ball is? Easy-peasy right?

You think that all you have to do is follow their moves, so you bet your money (5€ min) but there’s no way you will win as obviously the game is tricked.
If you happen to see someone actually winning it’s only because the guy is working with them trying to bait tourist into making them think they can win. It’s usually a well-dressed person who’s here to play with them and bait people.

Don’t try your luck, you won’t win. They can be found near the Quai de Seine or any famous bridges where tourists go for a simple reason.

Quite often the police is patrolling to try to stop them whether in civilian clothes or not, as soon as they spot one of them they throw over the bridges their games and run away. This way even if they are caught there’s no proof as the material is gone.

#5 Golden Ring

You might think that you can enjoy a nice stroll along the Seine’s bank quietly (to be honest it’s one of my favourite activity so do it!) enjoying the city and someone – there’s every likelihood it’s going to be a woman – catches up to you to let you know that you dropped something. A golden ring.

Spoiler alert: it’s plastic.

Obviously, you say it’s not yours (if you do say it’s yours, I’m sorry but at which point does this seems like a good idea?) they will insist that you can still have the ring and more nonsense but since they’re letting you have a golden ring you should give them some money in exchange. A scam that forces something onto you yet again to scam you some money.

So let’s say for some obscure reason you did say yes that the ring is yours There is another type of scenario where a second actor might come into the scam. If you do say the ring is yours (which you shouldn’t)

Be careful if you do have actual valuable pieces of jewellery on you also!

#6 ATM Scam

I don’t think this one has an actual name to it, but you should be careful if you do withdraw some cash in Paris near any landmarks or hotspots and you notice kids wandering nearby. That’s a very common scam, I mean scam, it’s straight out theft.

A few years ago as my friend and I were on our way to Starbucks near Opera, when we witnessed two girls had quickly gathered around a lady who was getting cash at an ATM.
It all happened so fast one started to screams at the right side of the lady in a horror movie kind of way while throwing herself at the ATM startling the lady.
To let right enough time for the other girl on the left side of her to steal the cash that had got out of the ATM at that exact moment.

They know what they do and sadly before you understand what the hell is happening to you and where is the cash they are long gone. If you can, always have someone watch out for you when you get some cash otherwise a lot of banks has inside ATM, so better withdraw inside in all safety.

Scams to avoid in Paris

READ: USEFUL FRENCH PHRASES TO KNOW 

If you notice something similar to all of this or exactly what I described as the only reasonable thing to do is to walk away and don’t pay any attention to them. Unless it’s to help someone out of those commons scams! Also, most of them are quite commons through Europe so you can encounter them in other European capitals it’s sadly not only Paris that is affected with them scams; any popular places that are flowed with tourists will.

Negativity put aside, Paris is a beautiful city full of culture and history, so, now that you are aware of what scams you need to avoid you can thoroughly enjoy your trip to the city of lights! And remember that the best way to explore a city is on foot and not be afraid to get lost!

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COMMON TOURIST SCAMS TO AVOID IN PARIS

Enjoy,
Lyne

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38 Comments

  1. 17/02/2018 / 21:39

    I’ve run into a number of these many times while visiting Paris, such a smart idea to write a post about it! thank you for sharing, any first timers NEED to read this post!

    • Lyne
      Author
      21/02/2018 / 18:27

      I keep running into the girls with the fake petitions lately so thanks to them for the idea ahah.

  2. 18/02/2018 / 00:30

    Thanks for sharing. I hate that there are still so many people who run scams like this but it helps for us all to be educated!

  3. 18/02/2018 / 00:47

    Paris is my hometown and sadly all these scams are giving a bad reputation to the city. I hope all first timers or anyone planning a trip to Paris will read this!

    • Lyne
      Author
      21/02/2018 / 18:23

      Paris is my hometown too ! 🙂

  4. 18/02/2018 / 03:17

    I went to Paris last summer and totally wish I would have seen this post! So informative!

    • Lyne
      Author
      21/02/2018 / 18:25

      Thanks !

  5. Thank you for sharing these scams!! They need to be out in the open for everyone to recognize. We all need to be alert for these kind of scams!

  6. 18/02/2018 / 19:50

    Thank you for this post! I’ll be traveling to Paris over the summer so this was all fantastic information!

    • Lyne
      Author
      19/02/2018 / 17:44

      Happy it helps ! 🙂

  7. 21/02/2018 / 18:29

    Posts like this are so important for travellers so thank you for sharing! Also I love the layout of your blog, so simple and pretty!

  8. 21/02/2018 / 18:32

    This is SO helpful! It’s fascinating how many ways they try to get you, isn’t it?! I almost fell into the friendship bracelet one when I was only 10 years old! Luckily my mum saw it coming and snatched me away, though I didn’t have any money on me anyway haha!

  9. 21/02/2018 / 18:37

    I never knew about these scams in Paris. I am usually very careful but need to be extra careful after reading this. Thanks for sharing, Lyne. 😊

  10. 21/02/2018 / 19:16

    Thanks for sharing! All these things are so annoying. We had almost the same issues in Rome.

  11. 21/02/2018 / 19:34

    Great list – and so important to be aware of. We had fake taxi, fake petition, and “friendship” bracelet all tried on us while we were there. And we heard about “golden” ring by a woman we met on a tour who had collected 5 such rings – all while refusing to pay. They were like badges of honor for her. Definitely need to keep on guard for these!

  12. Ruth
    22/02/2018 / 02:35

    When I visited Paris, I experienced the friendship bracelet scam. Well, not me in particular but a girl in my group. We had to take her out of the middle of people who were demanding money from her. So, yes, this people can get very aggressive and it is better to avoid them. Another scam I have seen in European cities is when you are given a flower and then asked for money. My husband fell for that one and he didn’t know what to do since the lady who was asking for money didn’t want the flower back. I told him to put it in the floor and walk away.

  13. 22/02/2018 / 14:22

    I’ve never experienced any if these in Paris thankfully – planning on going back next year so great post for learnjng what to look out for.

  14. 22/02/2018 / 14:49

    The city is always full of scam artists. I am aware of some of these scams and some others are knew to me. I think the scariest is the fake taxi one. I “lol’d ” when you said regarding the friendship bracelet scam, ” all handmade and free because that’s the power of friendship!”

  15. 22/02/2018 / 14:58

    The sign petition scam really annoys me. I don’t know why they are so many doing that thing in Paris. It’s good that you came up with this post so other travelers will be aware.

  16. 23/02/2018 / 04:34

    This is a very helpful information. Thank you for writing a post about the scams. All I know is pick pockets around Trocadero. Apparently it’s more than that.

  17. Momma To Go
    07/04/2018 / 22:01

    I try to be so on guard in Europe, but these are great tips!

  18. 07/04/2018 / 23:44

    This is such a useful article. Thank you for sharing it, love all the tips. Didnt know about the bracelet scam.

  19. 08/04/2018 / 02:00

    Lovely post. I live in Paris and some of the things that you wrote are definetly true.

  20. hayleyjones98
    27/06/2018 / 19:29

    Great post! I was in Paris a few weeks ago but thankfully managed to avoid all of these! Was caught by the friendship bracelet in Rome last year though – not fun haha

  21. 27/06/2018 / 20:20

    Very useful! Of course Paris is safe to visit and generally ok, but it’s important to be aware. I had someone try the bracelet scam on me in Ibiza once, I refused to pay and the woman wasn’t too happy!

  22. 27/06/2018 / 20:27

    woah i had heard some nasty things about Paris but never beived until I saw this post. I am so scared to visit now. lol

  23. Mama Travels Earth
    27/06/2018 / 21:07

    I recognise a few of these scams from Barcelona, good to have a heads up and be wary, thanks for sharing

  24. 27/06/2018 / 22:27

    It’s so sad that people have to resort to these tricks to get your money. These same scams can be seen all over the world. You just have to be prepared to face them.

  25. 28/06/2018 / 00:46

    Wow I had no idea there were so many scams! I had a friend who went to Paris once and got stuck in the bracelet trap, but she had lost her debit card to an ATM (bless, it was a real one – we just had to go back to get it the next day). So she literally told the guy she had absolutely no money because the ATM took her card. LOL. Sad, funny, AND true.

  26. 28/06/2018 / 03:14

    Great post! A lot of these have happened in other countries I have traveled too as well. It seems like all the scam artists like to chat to each other lol. My friend was scammed the bracelet part, but at least she really loved it.

  27. atruthfultraveler
    28/06/2018 / 03:38

    I guess I was lucky in that I never had a single encounter like this when I was in Paris. It seemed like a very tame city in comparison to some places in Italy!!!

  28. 28/06/2018 / 06:55

    Every popular tourist destination have scammers. The scams differ from place to place and country to country. It is very useful post to know the common scam one should avoid in Paris to have a hassle free trip.

  29. 28/06/2018 / 16:09

    I think this is a really informative post with great piece of advice.Often we search about best places to visit and all but m8ss out 9n such crucial information.thanks so much this was very useful

  30. 18/08/2018 / 22:52

    So many scams in Paris! I had some kids try to steal from me at the Eiffel Tower. I was sitting in the park, and one come up to me and held up a drawing (like they wanted me to look at it) and the other put his hand in my bag! Luckily, they didn’t get anything!

  31. 19/08/2018 / 02:53

    Oh wow! I’ve only seen a few of these in action, but am so glad for the warning! Thank you!

  32. 19/08/2018 / 18:29

    We were in Paris and the gold ring trick was pulled on us. We just laughed and he bloke ran off. I hate the bracelet one as they are so quick especially in Milan!

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