Scams, rip-offs, and bad deals in Paris

I actually find that there aren't that many people out there who will try to play you.

Sure, you sometimes draw the dishonest cabbie who slyly sets his flag for out-of-town rates, or a waiter who gives himself an extra tip by padding your bill.

But that can happen anywhere, and I don't find Paris to be more crowded with con artists than the United States.

Rule #1: Don't be an easy mark

A con artist or petty thief always looks for the easy mark. You are a foreigner and a tourist, and in their eyes that paints you with a big bull's-eye.

You don’t speak French, you're probably a bit lost, you may be jet-lagged, you're so busy taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of a new and exciting destination so you're not paying as close attention as you might otherwise. Most of all, you simply don't know how things work locally. 


Common tourist swindles

Here are some of the most common swindles (though, of course, every con artist has his own tactics).

Note: this page doesn't address pickpockets (which isn't really a scam, just plain thievery), and hotel rip-offs are covered on in a separate section.






Travel Advisory: How to Avoid Thefts, Cons, and Street Scams While Traveling
Travel Advisory! How to Avoid Thefts, Cons, and Street Scams While Traveling by Bob Arno and Bambi Vincent (2003). The pedestrian scams on this page barely scratch the surface of the rip-offs you may encounter abroad. While, as I said, even these "common" ones are not terribly commonplace, if you want to find out about dozens of other cons—and read plenty of thrilling tales of thievery, pickpocketry, and rip-off artistry)—grab this book by two of the world's leading experts on the subject (this husband/wife team does 20/20 specials and the like on this stuff).