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Paris 'Petition' Scam

When in Paris, don't be fooled by bearers of fake petitions. They'll shake you down for money, and they may pick your pocket.

Paris petition scammers

ABOVE: Petion scammers accost a tourist on the Pont St-Michel.

In other articles, we've described the Paris "Gold Ring" Scam (which is almost comical, unless you fall for it) and the petty shakedown artists known as the "String Men" of Sacré-Coeur. Today's warning is about the "Petition Scam," which can be a double-whammy assault on your pocketbook.

Here's  how the scam works:

  • As you're walking along, a gang of youths (usually teen-age girls or young women) will approach  you, asking you to sign a petition on a clipboard. Not wanting to appear rude, you take the proffered ballpoint pen or pencil and sign  your name on the phony petition.

  • After  you've signed, the petition-bearer asks for money to benefit a charity or political cause. (In reality, the criminal gang will keep the money.) You can say "Non," but the petition-bearer and her friends will be extremely persistent, and you'll probably end up handing over some coins or a five-euro note just to make the annoying scammers go away.

But wait, there's more!

  • Often, the petition gangs include pickpockets. While you're signing a petition for Girl Un,  Girl Deux may be extracting a wallet or phone from your pocket or purse.

Bottom line:

Just say "Non" to petition scammers, and don't let them get too close. If necessary, be nasty. (I practically had to beat off a crowd of wasp-like petition scammers on the Pont Saint-Michel a while back, and they wouldn't leave me alone until I snarled loudly enough to be noticed by other people on the bridge.)

Related articles:
Paris "Gold Ring" Scam
"String Men" of Sacré-Coeur

About the author:

Durant Imboden photo.Durant Imboden is a professional travel writer, book author, and editor who focuses on European cities and transportation.

After 4-1/2 years of covering European travel topics for About.com, Durant and Cheryl Imboden co-founded Europe for Visitors (including Paris for Visitors) in 2001. The site has earned "Best of the Web" honors from Forbes and The Washington Post.

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