Scams, Part Deux

DSC_0154_3

My favorite guys (not really), scammers, are out on the streets in Paris.  Although I previously wrote about scams and shell games, they abound and I have new photos.  Notice how they walk away in one of the pictures, that is because a cop had just walked into view.  Thieves, fraudsters, crooks, hucksters and n’eerdowell’s abound and there’s no way I could cover it all in my previous posts.  Here are some more scams you should be aware of.

Crowded trains/trams/busses provide abundant opportunities for pickpockets (beware on Geneva‘s public transport).  Pay attention.  Keep your hands on your bag.  Don’t put your wallet in your back pocket.  Pay attention to other passengers bumping and knocking into you.

DSC_0157_2

In a crowded train heist (common in Italy), dozens of future passengers squeeze their way into the train car, bus or tram a few minutes before departure. They exit just before the doors close and it departs, taking valuables with them.

See newspapers not only as a source of news, but as a handy screen.   I had a friend lose an iPhone to a nice old gentleman with a newspaper at a coffee bar.  Thieves don’t have to be old.  Beware of children (or anyone) waving a newspaper in your face.  It doesn’t have to be a newspaper.  If someone’s invading your personal space, you’re distracted.  It’s then really easy for a partner to come swipe your valuables.  Pay attention!

DSC_0158_3

Guys are suckers for pretty women.  Friends of mine are no exception.  They would strongly advise you to beware of pretty girls, especially those who invite you to meet them at a bar for a drink or suggest a restaurant.  Sometimes, they disappear and you get left with an insane bill.  The owners of the establishment are not usually open to discussion or negotiation.  You were warned.

I’ve always been afraid that someone will walk away with my camera.  It’s part of the reason you don’t see many pictures of the two of us together.  It turns out that I’ve got something else to worry about.  Sometimes those offering to pose with you in the cool period costume will have a partner willing to snap the picture.  They then hold your camera for ransom until you’ve paid for the most expensive picture of your life.   I’ll settle for cropping his fingers out of the picture like in the photo above.

DSC_0159_3

If something seems to good to be true, it is.  Don’t be a sucker.  If a taxi, rickshaw or any other mode of transport driver takes you to a store where the leather, jewelry, watches are priced low, there is a reason.

While we’re on the subject of cabbies, beware of inflated fares.  Check with your hotel to make sure your destination is open to avoid the it’s closed, but I know a better one just down the road problem.  You could also make them take you there to prove it.  Look for a license (if possible), otherwise, it’s just like hitchhiking with a price tag.

While not really a scam, I hate being taken or paying more than I have to.  In markets, stall/shop owners will frequently ask where you’re from.  They don’t do this because they want to make friends with you or just to get you to linger over their goods.  They are working out how much to charge you.  Obviously, if you come from a wealthy countries like the US, they think you have more money to spend.   Be careful with your answer, give and obscure/evasive answer.

 

Advertisements

Who Gets Taken By This?

Who does this?  I guess an idiot is born every day, but really, who does this?  Someone must.  These guys are everywhere.  We’ve seen them all over Europe (usually with too many people crowding around to get  a decent picture).  Now that the weather is better, they are all over the boardwalk in Geneva.

These shell games (also known as ThimblerigThree shells and a peathe old army game) function, more or less, the same way.  The shuffler (aka the tosser) takes bets on the location of the pea or ball.  If a better guesses correctly, they supposedly win double their bet.  If they don’t, they lose it.  Although it’s known as a confidence game, it seems more of a swindle, con or fraud.  It’s hard to catch because The shell game set-up and lay-out is quick and simple, so that in the event of trouble, they pull up the rug, removing all traces of the game in a matter of seconds.

If the shuffler is halfway decent, they can remove the object undetected at will and it is useless to watch the shells or the operator’s hands.  You can’t win unless the operator wants you to.  Usually, most of the players in this shell game  are shills who are all part of the confidence trick.  They have different roles that include: lookout for the police; “muscle” to intimidate marks, and pretending to play the game, enticing the mark into betting.   When someone enters the circle of players, they surround them to discourage an easy exit and keep other pedestrians from interfering.  This crowd also makes it difficult to get pictures.  Sorry I don’t have better ones.

How do they get the money?  You can’t make enough for the several involved to split with bets of a dollar or two.  They try to elicit anger or greed to create heightened situation.  A shill then “discloses” a winning strategy, getting the mark to place a large bet.  It probably doesn’t hurt to have someone distracted and revealing the location of their money either.