I’ve been approached by a few scam artists. They usually start speaking to me in English, even though I’ve not spoken at all. I’m not sure what gives me away … my looks or my clothes or perhaps they’ve spotted me looking a little confused as to which direction to go. Or maybe it’s not that at all. Perhaps it’s that I’m a woman alone, and I look reasonably well put together. They usually approach when I’m better dressed.
These people are slick. There is a young woman who hangs out in the area of Musee du L’Orangerie, Le Tuilieries and Musee D’Orsay. Here’s her gig: she throws a fake gold ring down on the ground as you approach. Then she asks if it is yours. It is a big men’s ring. When you tell her “no,” she is very sweet. She looks inside the ring, tells you that it’s gold, and that it is a fortunate thing that has happened to you in Paris. She insists that you keep it. Then as you are about to walk away, she hits you up for lunch money. I threw the ring on the ground and walked off, as she continued to protest sweetly. This was on the grounds near L’Orangerie. The next day, as I was approaching the D’Orsay, she targeted me again, LOL! I guess all her “marks” are faceless to her.
Teenagers will also come up to you with clipboards, asking you to sign petitions. They are usually girls, and they are very insistent. That is because either they or their friends/accomplices will attempt to steal from your bag while you are signing. Often they will pretend to be deaf, just to play on your sympathy or try to make you feel guilty. Just say, “no,” loudly and keep moving.
Another guy, well-dressed, rushed up to me at the train station and said, “Do you speak English? Please help me, please!” He showed me a SNCF ticket, said he had missed his connection. He didn’t need money, he just needed someone to go with him to help him purchase another ticket. Uh, no. I am happy to give directions on occasion, but I don’t go with people anywhere. If people come to you and ask if you speak English, in English, I hate to say it but just say “no,” and keep moving, particularly if you are in a tourist area. They usually are targeting you for a scam.
I’ve also noticed in the past few days that there are people scamming the Metro system. They do this three ways that I’ve seen so far. They either jump over the turnstile. Or they notice which lane moves a little slowly, and slip in behind you before it locks. Or this move: they wait until you come out the exit, then they walk through it. Voila!, they’re in.
I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg here when it comes to scams, so stay on your toes, lest you be a victim. Keep your wallet and phone in your front pockets if possible and wear your purse crossbody. Be vigilant, but not paranoid.