2 people tried on tricks on me when I was recently in Paris – the first was blindingly obvious but the second was a little more subtle. Neither were particularly offensive or likely to cost a lot of money however.
1 – The Fake Charity
A chap approached me speaking bad English – this was immediately odd as most people in France spoke French to me. He asked for “Just a signature – to support the children – it’s for UNICEF” and showed me a page on a clipboard (the sort of thing that looks like a sponsor form). Part of the clipboard was carefully covered by his hand.
The page was badly photocopied, didn’t mention UNICEF and the chap had nothing that looked even vaguely like proper charity apparel. More out of curiosity than anything else I took the clipboard and pen and of course, under the part that he had been covering it said “Donation” and, apparently, several people had donated €5 or €10.
I pondered for a second whether I should throw the clipboard a good distance, deface the page entirely, tear it off or simply hand it back on the grounds that he might get a bit stabby if I did any such thing. In this moment he grabbed it back and ran as a security guard was rapidly approaching.
2 – Is This Your Ring?
This one is much better – I was walking along the Seine when a chap bent down a couple of metres in front of me and apparently picked up a ring. “Is this yours?” he asked (in French). “No”, I replied (in French, with a Gallic shrug) and carried on walking but he walked with me. “It looks expensive” he said (in English) and was suspiciously insistent about it being mine and expensive. I figured it was a distraction trick and wondered what the distraction was from. He went away though and I still had wallet, phone, keys, rings etc.
Later I saw the same guy chatting to some girls – he was asking for a small contribution – a “finder’s fee” to let them keep the ring that he had apparently just found on the floor near them.
I didn’t get a good look at the ring – so I couldn’t tell whether it was extremely cheap or stolen. I like this trick because it plays or your own dishonesty and greed which is something we all have whether we like it or not.