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Visitors to Paris, please be aware of this scam. Its simply begging in a clever form and should be discouraged. The scam goes like this:
As you are walking or taking photographs, a person will suddenly bend down near to you and appear to "find" a gold ring. He/she will look at it and if they know that you have noticed, they will immediately point to the hallmark which says "18k" on the inside of the ring. the hallmark is fake. They will then say to you in French something along the lines of "That was lucky".
After a few minutes talking they will then offer you the ring and proceed to walk away. They will then come back to you and say that they are hungry and need 5 Euros to buy a sandwich. Your train of thought will be "Hey, this person just handed over a gold ring they found, whats a few Euros?"
The result is that you end up 5 Euros lighter and only a piece of brass to show for it. Save yourself the bother and simply do not entertain these con artists. This practice is rife in Paris. The areas concerned are between the bridge near to the Eiffel Tower down to the Pont Nuef and all along the upper riversides and bridges along the way.
A new scam for 2010 is children and adults pretending to be deaf on the steps leading to the Sacre Coeur. They approach you quite forcefully with a clipboard, indicating that you should sign it and give them some money. If you try to give them a few euros, they will turn over their clipboards which on the back say: '10 Euros Minimum.' If you give in to it and you remove your purse or wallet, they see where you keep it and when several children hug you to say thank you, they steal your purse or wallet from where they know you keep it.
Dont pay for accomodation in advance! This scam involves Four parties - The upmarket hotel, the person that has paid for his room in advance & the one that hasn't. The fourth party is a very inferior hotel that has attached itself to the upmarket hotel & would not attract guests without doing so. The upmarket hotel relies on booking agents placing orders & having their clients pay in advance. The unsuspecting customer turns up at the hotel & is told "somebody is sick & the room is not available" ....BUT... they (the upmarket hotel) have booked them into an equivalent hotel. This place turns out to be an absolute dive that usually charges way less than the value that the customer has already paid. The upmarket hotel pockets the difference in charges & sells the prepaid room to somebody that literally turns up at the door or books a day or so ahead. The difference in hotel rates in this case was 300 euro or 60 euro per night. Sad thing is - your booking agent will probably not assist you in arranging a credit for the difference!!!!!!