Beware of New Tourist Scam

May 18th, 2007, 06:34 AM
  #1  
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Beware of New Tourist Scam

Just back from a fabulous 4 days in Paris. One new scam to warn Fodorites about (at least we hadnt read about it here). The following happened to us 3 times and while almost comical still reminds a tourist to be vigilant. Walking over a bridge or along the Seine a young person walks towards us and just as we are about to pass, bents over and supposedly picks up a ring as if he found it and asks if its our's. Through sleight of hand he was always carrying the ring and I
can only assume they either want a reward for "finding" the ring or split the "worth" of the ring.....who knows....I guess its a sad commentary no matter how you look at it.
fromMA is offline  
May 18th, 2007, 06:43 AM
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This scam has been worked since time immemorial and is known as "the pigeon drop scam" by police bunko squads worldwide. There is nothing new about it. It depends on human greed and gullibility to work -- two traits that are never in short supply.
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May 18th, 2007, 06:49 AM
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Fodorites have reported this is rife in Paris and has been for some time
PalenQ is online now  
May 18th, 2007, 06:50 AM
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So what do they want you to do, again?
Curious as I'm leaving in 3 days.
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May 18th, 2007, 06:55 AM
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FromMA, there are actually lots of scams that start out with someone supposedly or actually dropping something but thanks for posting this.

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May 18th, 2007, 07:06 AM
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Dunno about the ring scam, but in the 'pigeon drop'

1. a bag of money (or object of value) is 'found' by con artist A, who draws the victim (pigeon) into a conversation about it.

2. Miraculously, someone claiming to know a lawyer or a banker "who will know what to do about the money (object) " turns up and joins in. (This someone is the accomplice, con artist B, though they will act like they are just meeting con artist A for the first time.)

3. What do you know. The lawyer/banker, via con artist B, says that the victim and con artist A can split the proceeds, but that first the victim must post a sum of money in the so-called lawyer's/banker's 'trust' account in order to: (prove good faith) (prove the two are acting responsibly) (story here varies, but the point is to get the victim to deposit a sum of money.)

4. Various ruses are used to persuade the victim to wait for awhile (in order, of course, that the 'trust' account be cleared out and closed, with the con artists departing with the proceeds.)

This might not be the exact plan of the ring finder described above, but in general, beware of strangers bearing exciting 'finds' of 'lost' items.
Sue_xx_yy is online now  
May 18th, 2007, 07:08 AM
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That one and more described here:

http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/298scam.htm
Travelnut is offline  
May 18th, 2007, 07:10 AM
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If someone approached me with a ring they just "found", I'd quickly respond in near hysteria, "OH, thank you. I just dropped that. Thank you for finding it for me. You're a very fine and honest person for returning it." Then I'd take the ring and leave. (or not).
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May 18th, 2007, 07:55 AM
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I have a good one for you folks. It's not a scam, but a joke on the rubes. A few years ago, when the Euro came into being in Europe, I was in Sardinia. I was sitting in an espresso bar, waiting for my wife to complete her shopping in a great mall in Olbia. On the ground close to me , was what appeared to be a 500 Euro bill. Being new to the Euro, I kept looking at it, while passers by just ignored it. I coudn't contain my curiosity, so I went over and picked it up. Immediately, a bunch of young people started laughing. I was the victim of a very harmless joke, and I smiled condescendently. I then walked over close to the cashier in the super market, and asked him something inane. I made sure that the young folks saw me wander over there. I then went back to my espresso, smiling and told the young folks that I had a bunch of luck finding that money, and that the cashier was kind enought to break it into smaller bills for me (which I took out of my pocket from my own money and showed them). I remember one young girls FUMING that I had screwed them, that the money was fake! I played it dumb, smiled, and said I dunno, all I know is that I got the money!. When my wife showed up, I put on a great phony show, telling her in loud terms, so that the young folks could hear, that I found 500 Euros. WERE THEY PISSED!!! I still have the 500 Euro bill. It looks pretty real to me.
Waldo is offline  
May 18th, 2007, 08:43 AM
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Good for you Waldo! Wish I could have seen that.
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May 18th, 2007, 08:48 AM
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Waldo..when you bent over is when they picked your pocket!
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May 18th, 2007, 09:35 AM
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Happened when I was in Paris last September, only it was a fresh-faced college etudiante. Insisted that I have it for good luck when I said, no, not mine. We parted ways, and then a few seconds later, she was behind me, saying, excuse me, could you spare money for lunch, a sandwich? I realize I was suckered in then, I know, and she foold me good. I gave her 5 euros, but she asked for more as it's not enough for a sandwich, everything is expensive here. I said, sorry, and she left it at that.
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May 18th, 2007, 09:48 AM
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Same thing happened to me. He tried to talk me into trying the ring on - I knew something was fishy, so I told him that he should keep it and said "this must be your lucky day", smiled and walked into my hotel.
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May 18th, 2007, 10:15 AM
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Living in Paris, I have had at least 50 rings found right in front of me over the last 10 years. As they pick it up and show it to me, I just say "good for you!" and keep walking.
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May 18th, 2007, 10:56 AM
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This scam is as old as the hills - and they do it all over the world.

The solution is completely simple. Don't say a word - don;t even stop - just look right past them as if they weren't there and keep walking. (I know a lot of people who aren't from big cities think this is rude - but it's not - it's just your defense against being scammed.)

I have seen the "flower" scam dozens of time in Spain and Portugal - and it's always the result of the victims (tourists) trying to be "nice". There's no rule you have to be "nice" to complete strangers accosting you for no good reason. "Nice" is for suckers.
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May 18th, 2007, 11:05 AM
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I agree with that. This scam has been reported on Fodors, I remember one thread on it not really that long ago by something who spent far too much time being "nice" or even enchanging in conversation and exchange with these people. Honestly, tourists can be such targets and greedy, too (as a lot of scams only work on people who are greedy), it's no wonder they are such sitting ducks. I'll admit no one has ever tried to pull any of those scams on me (finding the ring, etc.) and I'm sure it's because I just won't have anything to do with these people and don't engage in conversations or anything with these kind of people, and may not look as obvious a tourist as many (I don't walk around with cameras, guidebooks, etc. I wouldn't even talk to them at all or pay any attention to them. They really are pretty adept at picking out the suckers, I think.

I think the ring scam is really stupid, as there is no way to force anyone to give you money (unless there are backup thugs around, of course).
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May 18th, 2007, 11:42 AM
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I never understand why people engage in conversation with strangers on the street anyway. I guess it is a combination of being "nice" and being greedy.
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May 18th, 2007, 12:14 PM
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This is what happened to us in Rome. A man sitting in his car asked me and my husband to approach while we were passing by. He said he was driving to the French Embassy but got lost and asked if we could help. My husband explained how to get there. Then the man started talking about himself, pretended to be working for designer Valentino, and even showed an ID to convince us, asked us where we were from and told us that he loved our country. He pretended to have liked us so much that he reached for the back seat of the car and got something which looked like a coat, nicely packaged, and gave it to me. "Don't sell it, wear it yourself," he told me. And then suddenly he realized that he had no cash on himself to buy gas and asked for money. My husband gave him a few euros but he smiled sarcastically (what was a few euros after his great gift?). We just gave his gift back to him and left.

We didn't engage in the conversation because of greed. We honsetly thought that he was lost but we also learned to ignore strangers, especially when they are trying so hard to be nice.
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May 18th, 2007, 12:27 PM
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That one also happens in Paris quite a bit. The Paris version is usually an Italian who has just finished exposing items at a trade show -- leather goods are the main object -- and his car is full of models that were exposed, but it is a pain to take them all the way back to Italy. So they are available for a good price.
kerouac is online now  
May 18th, 2007, 12:40 PM
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Good reminder, but it's definitely not a "new scam".
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