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Huge increase in "deaf/mute" scam in Paris

Huge increase in "deaf/mute" scam in Paris

Old Oct 7th, 2011, 09:19 PM
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But a person can ask you to erase the picture. Theoretically you are to ask for permission when you take the picture of a person; although in this case it was not a person, nor was it a scam. On the other hand, the organ grinder makes a living by public performances of the monkey or dog, as in this case. A tip would have been appropriate. And yes, I gave money to this blind trumpet player, even though it was not for his playing.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...57623026204048
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Old Oct 8th, 2011, 03:33 PM
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We were in Paris last summer and the streets were filled with so many fake deaf/mute girls, female beggars, and men approaching us to sell cheap junk that it felt like being swarmed by locusts. After awhile it was annoying enough to take some of the fun out of seeing the sites. It was like running a gauntlet.

We watched deaf/mute fakers gather to report in and receive instructions from what looked like a team leader (all women), in full view of everyone. Then they would spread out and go after the crowds they'd just been talking in front of. They were especially obvious at the base of the Eiffel Tower. Pretty nervy!

The men with junk were easy to ignore even though they were <i>everywhere</i> because they were careful to not be aggressive or obnoxious, but the young women with the clipboards were aggressive, getting right up into our faces and grabbing at our arms until we put up a hand in their faces while saying, "No!" They wouldn't back off until we did that so after a couple of days of it, the rest of our trip we just did it automatically as soon as they stepped into our personal space. It felt rude and unkind at first, and then it felt sort of sad that we were reduced to treating other people so dismissively and disrespectfully. We had no choice though. It's not a good environment for impressing tourists so they will want to return, especially when those sort of trips are so expensive.

We noticed that most of the men selling junk and the female beggars looked Indian, while the deaf/mute fakers looked like Roma Gypsies.

An Indian-looking woman approached me while I was on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées sitting alone at a sidewalk cafe table. She was persistent in pretending she couldn't speak to me, gesturing that she was pregnant and needed money to eat. When I shook my head, she kept begging by rubbing her belly like she was cradling a baby, putting her fingers to her mouth to simulate eating, and holding out her hand for money with a sad, pathetic, pleading facial expression. When I quietly said no, she kept at it, standing very close to me. I finally said, "No!" loudly and put my hand up in her face (she was standing over me). Then she walked over to another establishment and started begging there.

Also, there were Indian-looking women sitting on the sidewalks begging, who would then lay down on their stomachs or kneel bent so far forward their faces were on the ground, totally prostrated at the feet of the thousands walking past and stepping around them, with containers for money in front of them. That's a bummer visual. It was a startling sight for me too, because I'd never before seen Indian people engaged in such demeaning and dishonest behaviors. All of the Indian people I've met in the states have been some of the most dignified, gracious, delightful people I've ever met.

On the subways we found Gypsy musicians amusing and I always like street musicians, but the locals just looked tired and pissed off, cranking up their iPods or covering their ears and glaring, so it probably gets old day after day. The musicians would play and then ask for money until they realized no one was going to hand any over and then they would suddenly get off. One of them was an elderly woman but she was quite agile when it came to jumping off the train quickly to head to another car. I wish I had her balance! So as not to add to the misery of the locals, we didn't give any money to musicians on the subways or in the stations.

We also observed numerous Roma Gypsies working as teams pretending to be tourists playing the game of guessing where an object is in order to lure real tourists into the con game. We stood and watched several of them and it was always the same scenario. How can the authorities <i>not</i> know what they are doing? Of course they do, but they probably can't do anything about it unless a person is caught in the act of cheating the customer or pickpocketing and as others have explained, that is very hard to do.

As for police, I don't know about Europe, but there are cities in the states where police collude with Roma Gypsies. They receive kickbacks from scams like Roma Gypsy drivers intentionally causing small car accidents with other drivers outside of bars and restaurants that make it look like it was the other driver's fault because they've probably had at least one drink. The damage is so minor it costs them nothing to get their car's damaged cosmetics fixed (they do the work themselves or have partners in crime who do it on the cheap but put in much more expensive estimates). The other driver ends up in handcuffs, the cops write up accident reports, including on private property owned by the businesses, which they aren't supposed to do unless the property owner calls them and requests it. At night, property owners aren't even around and when the cops arrive they don't try to reach them. Cops write the reports up as accidents caused by the other driver having alcohol, yet that fact hasn't even been established. The Gypsy gets insurance money for repairs to his "luxury town car" plus whatever else insurance companies automatically fork over, and the cops get overtime going to DUI hearings and depositions. Some of them also receive additional kickbacks. That's one of the major scams some police and Roma Gypsies pull together.

It works in our country because we've become so hysterical about DUI that we don't even think critically about the issue anymore. Civil rights, out the window when it comes to DUI charges. An accusation? The same as guilty to the public, and worse, to judges, so they rubber stamp what cops and prosecutors send them and tell them. Hundreds of thousands of citizens just take a plea, pay large fines and do a couple of days in jail, accepting a DUI on their records because they can't afford $20,000.00-$30,000.00 for a trial to prove their innocence. Cops working night-shifts make $100,000.00- $130,000.00 a year by pumping up their pay with all that overtime I mentioned previously. Those that also ask for and accept kick-backs make more off the books. All those circumstances form a perfect storm, making that particular scam ripe for exploitation in the U.S.

An insurance agent told me that they know who some of the "Romanian con artists" in his city are because they have so many claims and are on the phone to the insurance company within five minutes of the accidents. Yet, because insurance companies are still so profitable anyway, they just let it go on at the expense of their insured customers (who, of course, lose their insurance and then have to pay for high-risk insurance for a few years, so another part of the insurance industry makes more off of their victimization and sometimes are even owned by the same umbrella company as their original insurance). It's no skin off an insurance company's nose, just off the victim's who was hit by a car that came out of nowhere in a parking lot, from a parking space, or from a side street.

A man I met who worked as security at a private strip mall-type property with a popular restaurant/bar on the premises told me that one Roma Gypsy driving his own for-hire private town car, supposedly to be there for bar patrons who wanted to hire him for rides home, pulled that scam on the property most weekends of every month. He said the con artist was on a first name basis with the cops who always showed up. The cops would arrest the victim of the scam as soon as they arrived, even after he'd already assessed the driver as not impaired. It was private property so it was his job to do so unless he called the police and requested their help, but that legal technicality was always ignored.

The Gypsy would create a scene, leaping out of his car screaming at the other driver, hitting their car with his hands, shouting accusations, and the other driver would be all freaked out. After the security person would assess the other driver as not impaired and tell them to just exchange insurance information, the Gypsy would keep shouting and call the cops anyway. Then the cops would arrive almost immediately and the victim would be in handcuffs in less than five-minutes after their arrival. He said there was no move in that city to stop it and it made him sick every time he witnessed it happen to someone.

As for it being racist or bigoted to remark about the Roma Gypsy culture, that isn't the case just because a person acknowledges what is true and has been historically true for centuries. Of course it isn't true that everyone living in, belonging to, or coming from a culture engages in cons and criminal behavior. Just like it isn't true everyone belonging to or coming from a culture is a saint. Researchers and people from within this culture, however, have written books and scholarly material on this very subject, including why scamming non-Gypsies is considered right and deserved by many Roma Gypsies.

For whatever reason many centuries ago there was bad blood between the nomadic Gypsies and settled villagers, including bigotry against Gypsies because they were different, a minority, or just because they were nomadic and as outsiders aroused fear and suspicion. It started that far back, and it may not even have been the fault of Gypsies in the beginning, but it laid the foundation for why a significant number of Roma Gypsies (including those who are no longer nomadic) feel justified in victimizing non-Gypsies, believing we deserve it if we are foolish enough to fall for their scams. Of course, plenty of people are victimized even though they haven't fallen for anything. More unfortunately, some of their scams in this country have worse, long-lasting, even life-altering consequences for the victims other than just being ripped-off.

Additionally, Roma Gypsies interviewed for research claim they do not want inclusion. They want to retain their own identity, lifestyle, and culture and they do not want to be one with the non-Gypsies because they don't respect the rest of us. Why would they want to be like us? We are saps, and we don't share their ethnic cultural history, roots, or genes.

Smart communities in some states have created programs in their schools that accommodate Gypsy children coming and going during the school year, just like other smart and caring communities have done the same for children of migrant workers. Also, some communities have set aside land for Gypsies to park their trailers when they are in the area because there is no open, legally unclaimed property anymore. All land is public or privately owned and none allow squatters or long-term campers, so there sure isn't any for parked trailers, especially entire communities of parked trailers. By providing land that is set aside just for nomadic Gypsy communities a major conflict between locals and Gypsies is removed and Gypsies can continue following their own cultural lifestyle. I see that as a win-win.


The same culture of preying on outsiders is strong among the Gypsy Travelers who are of Irish descent. I've not done any research on that culture so I do not know their justifications. I do know that here in the states if they ever were nomadic, in the cities I've lived in they aren't anymore.

Irish Travelers are recognizable. Not all, but many have red hair. The females of all ages wear expensive designer clothing. Even their little girls carry <i>very</i> expensive couture purses. They are not popular with restaurant owners and small businesses because even though they have a lot of money to spend, they also cause damage to restrooms, make big messes, are rude to other customers, and then don't tip the help on top of it. That isn't just bigoted gossip, by the way. I've heard a number of such complaints from business owners themselves, and a friend used to work in a high-end restaurant that finally threw them out and refused to let them return after an especially ugly night. The people I've talked to said they'd rather not have Travelers' business at all than have to deal with them taking over their establishments, alienating other customers, short-changing employees, and then having to clean up after them after they leave. I don't know why Irish Travelers would behave that way unless they believe they are entitled and other people deserve it.

Two of our own family members were victimized by Gypsies in a large metropolitan area in the southwest. One was by a Roma Gypsy who stole expensive tools from her garage while her husband was away. The guy was supposed to be working on her house. The other relative was victimized by a Traveler who showed up when she hired a carpet cleaning service. He was rude, a little intimidating, doubled the cost if she wanted anything but water used on her carpets (you know, like actual cleaning chemicals), then turned her formal living and dining rooms, stairs, and landing into a swamp and left them that way. He also totally destroyed all of her area and throw rugs. When she cancelled the check, he called her, threatened her, and told her he was going to "call" his "father" who would "take care of her." She didn't know what that meant, but she just paid because he knew where she lived.

In the U.S. we have young women approaching people on streets claiming to be pregnant and needing a few bucks to get somewhere, and other similar stories. They tend to target men more than women because men are more likely to believe them or worry they might be telling the truth and really do need help. The only women I've known who've been approached were older and a little addled-acting. With the economy tanked and so many youth in poverty, with growing numbers of them on the verge of homelessness or actually homeless, we are going to see more of this because such young people are targeted by sharks waiting to exploit them.

Finally, I am a researcher of WWII, Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust. <i>Many</i> groups were targeted for extermination: Jews, Christians whose ancestors were Jewish at some point generations before, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, Gypsies, Protestant teachers who refused to sign an oath to Hitler that included denouncing their own faith, Priests who refused to cooperate with the Nazi regime, Swing Kids, the Brown Shirts who'd actually committed Hitler's early thuggery for him, and the list goes on. Eventually, Aryan spouses with drinking problems, relatives not quite right in the head or with unusual tics (anyone among the "good Germans" with those sorts of problems) were taken away for free labor until they were worked to death and/or for immediate extermination. Before it was all over, even little Aryan children born with <i>any</i> sort of defect (a stutter, a club foot, a hair-lip, visual/auditory/cognitive problems or delays, anything not perfect enough) were taken into woods and gassed to death inside of vans. Those German citizens were turned in by physicians and social workers ordered to report any unacceptable family members they came across. Those turned in were disappeared too-taken during the night while neighbors slept.

None of that horrendous suffering and history justifies descendants of the wronged victimizing others in <i>any</i> way. We can be intelligent enough to differentiate between predatory behaviors and ethical, legal behaviors among any group of people.

I've read and viewed much material that is agonizingly painful and sickening, describing experiences no movie to date even <i>begins</i> to touch because audiences wouldn't be able to handle it. Knowing the truly horrific experiences people suffered at the hands of the Nazis, I cannot tolerate the use of Nazi-this and Nazi-that thrown around for anyone with a differing viewpoint (femiNazis, ecoNazis, and so forth).

Furthermore, those people who actually survived horrors <i>beyond our imagining</i> but still went on to build productive lives that contributed positively to their communities deserve <i>better</i> than using the Holocaust as an excuse to justify ignoring the predatory behaviors of any descendants of other Holocaust victims. It isn't respectful of Holocaust victims. It isn't right.

Sorry to be so wordy, but I felt compelled to address this topic.

Thanks for reading if you actually got through it. (<:
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Old Oct 8th, 2011, 04:51 PM
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jezzebbell,

Feel better now?
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Old Oct 8th, 2011, 11:32 PM
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Yes, thank you.
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Old Oct 12th, 2011, 08:32 AM
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I don't understand the ring scam. They drop a ring and pretend to find it and say, Is this GOLD ring yours?" Do they then pick-pocket us? Or try to get us to say its ours and then give them a reward? We were in Paris in September and had two different ladies try it on us THREE different times in 15 minutes. The second lady almost tried to approach us again a fourth time, but my husband looked at her as she approached and said "you tried already".
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Old Oct 12th, 2011, 02:01 PM
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I don't understand the ring scam. >>

nor me, charrisdc.

in fact I seem to have been blissfully ignorant of it. They come anywhere near my, i say "non" and keep walking.
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Old Oct 12th, 2011, 02:44 PM
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Jezzebbell, I can relate to some degree about scams in the US even though the story I am about to relay does not identify the offenders as gypsies.

My DH owns a shop on an industrial street and has security cameras all around its perimeter. One day a customer, who my DH knows well, came in to buy something. The customer was in the shop 10 mins at the most.

After he leaves, my husband looks at the video montior and sees this customer about to get into a fist fight. He goes out to see what is going on and finds out that these scum artists are complaining the customer scratched their car.

They carry on for a few more minutes and my DH brings the customer into his office and tells him he has a security camera and plays back the video. While he is doing this the scum artists leave.

The video shows the scum artists backing into a space and hitting the customer's car. A few hours later the insurance company for the scum calls the customer demanding money.

This plays out for a few hours until they inform the insurance company they have a video of what really accurred. After that the customer never heard from the insurance company.

So video cameras to the rescue but they are not always around when scams like this are pulled off.
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Old Oct 12th, 2011, 02:49 PM
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"scum artists" I like that.
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Old Oct 12th, 2011, 11:25 PM
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I don't get the ring scam, either. I mean I don't understand why it is so prevalent and how it can be successful enough to make it a current career choice for so many of these folks. There must be some school or word just gets around, maybe they get together and talk about their various schemes du jour, who knows. For example, right now it is very common for beggars on the streets of Paris (I assume homeless) to have pets with them. So this is now the thing to do. Some have more than one, yesterday I saw a couple guys with FIVE huge dogs between the two of them, on the sidewalk. Usually it is small dogs or cats, though, and this really bothers me. It is odd how they mostly seem to be able to keep these animals sleeping and by them, though, I wonder if they are drugged or something (seems unlikely, but they are remarkably quiet).

As for the ring, no one has tried it on me, but I've seen it a few times. I think the idea is usually they say they found this great gold ring and do you want to pay them for it? This just seems so strange to me that this could be successful -- ever, actually, but certainly not a lot. Who wants to go around buying gold rings from itinerants who pick one off the street? totally baffles me, but I assume some people must give them money or they wouldn't keep doing it. I guess, I don't think these folks obviously are very sharp.

Someone did approach me behind Notre Dame in the garden yesterday about some deaf/mute thing. They came up and asked me if I spoke English -- I replied no, in French, and actually said more than that so it wasn't just "non". Didn't stop them, they put this paper in front of my face to sign pointing to some words in English (about deaf something). I told her again in French to beat it, I wasn't interested (and not in very polite language). She did pretty quickly, I think she was a bit taken aback by my response, which was rather blunt.
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Old Oct 13th, 2011, 02:48 AM
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The best response to "Do you speak English?" or the ring scam or being surrounded by the petition people is to say absolutely nothing. Pretend you don't see or hear them, don't make eye contact, keep walking (unless you're sitting of course) and have a jaded look on your face that says I've seen this a million times and I'm not falling for it. Works for me 100% of the time. If they are persistent, keep ignoring. They will leave eventually, although maybe not before calling you a few unpleasant names.

Saying something is an invitation for them to continue speaking to you because now you have opened a line of communication with them. Doesn't matter if it's a negative line of communication, they want your attention any way they can get it. And if you find yourself surrounded by the petition people shoving papers in your face, immediately grab your valuables and hold them tight before doing anything else. They are looking to distract you while one of them tries to pickpocket you.
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Old Oct 13th, 2011, 05:17 AM
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If they are persistent, keep ignoring. They will leave eventually, although maybe not before calling you a few unpleasant names. >>

some of these lovely people cropped up in the tuscan backwater where i did a language course in May. when i pulled our teacher away and explained that it was a scam [try saying that in pigeon italian!] she didn't believe me - until i pointed out that if they really were charity workers, they wouldn't be swearing at us. and finally the penny dropped.

When they ask my if i speak english i usually tell them I'm cornish. that puzzles them for long enough for me to make my getaway.
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Old Oct 13th, 2011, 01:06 PM
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Ann: being "cornish" is a lot better than being "corny".

Just teasing!

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Old Oct 13th, 2011, 01:37 PM
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Ann: being "cornish" is a lot better than being "corny".>>

ah, righ'on.
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Old Oct 19th, 2011, 07:55 AM
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On Saturday, the Paris Chief of Police had his smartphone stolen by one of these scammers, as she ask him to sign one of those bogus petitions. Now that he knows what it's like, maybe he'll work harder to do something about it.

They've been mostly cleaned out of the Champs and the area near the Louvre for the moment, but they are loitering around the Tuileries and (so I've been told) are still a big problem at Sacré-Coeur.
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Old Oct 19th, 2011, 11:31 AM
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perhaps the chief of police doesn't go to Montmartre very often?
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Old Oct 19th, 2011, 12:25 PM
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As of last week, they were definitely around the Tuileries. The petition people are rampant, and we saw ring people twice too.
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Old Oct 19th, 2011, 01:36 PM
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OK, if the Paris police chief was a victim, maybe we on Fodor's can stop blaming victims for being naive and unaware of their surroundings and congratulating ourselves for having avoided being scammed.
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Old Oct 19th, 2011, 04:39 PM
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The Paris Chief of Police???

LOL!
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Old Oct 19th, 2011, 05:25 PM
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He hasn't been the only VIP victim. A high-ranking official of one of France's government spook agencies lost his smartphone in exactly the same way while sitting at a café in Paris in early September. Supposedly there was no classified information on the phone, but it did have a few "sensitive" telephone numbers.
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Old Oct 19th, 2011, 06:31 PM
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>On Saturday, the Paris Chief of Police had his smartphone stolen by one of these scammers<

Priceless.......
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