Feeling like an idiot after falling for the bracelet scam

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    • #866 Reply
      Gemma L.

      I had been traveling across Europe with my two friends for a few weeks already, and we had been warned about potential scammers in Budapest and Istanbul, and that actually kept us from getting ripped off in those places. We felt pretty confident after those places and with Paris being in France we figured it would be safe from people trying to rip us off, so we might have been a bit off guard. And of course that’s when you step into a scam and can’t help but feel like an idiot afterwards.
      We had taken the funicular to the top of Montmartre and had visited the basilica of Sacre Coeur, strolled by the painters trying to draw a funny picture of you, and were headed back down the stairs in front of the basilica.
      All of a sudden three men walked towards us smiling and started asking us where we were from. Each of them took a hand of one of us, put a few strings around our wrists and started to braid some kind of bracelet on it. They also kept talking about how this was a part of their African culture and it would bring us good luck and safe travels. Because they were constantly chatting, we didn’t even have a chance to look at each other and see what the others thought about it.
      It wasn’t until the man who was holding my arm was almost finished that I realized this lucky charm probably wasn’t going to be for free. I tried to pull away, but he must have noticed my hesitation and quickly finished the bracelet. I thanked him for it and took out a couple of coins from my pocket to pay him for his work, but his reaction made it clear that he wasn’t satisfied with just a few Euros.
      Then I made the mistake of pulling out and opening my wallet, so he could see exactly how much cash I was carrying. I had wanted to give him 5 Euro on top of the 3 I had already given him, but he pointed towards the 50 Euro bill in my wallet and told me he would take that for all three of us.
      At first I told him that was ridiculous for three stupid bracelets we never asked for, but then all of a sudden their friendly mood changed and they looked very angry. We were surrounded by them and a few of their mates and it was all very intimidating. My friends told met to gave him the 50 Euros as they were starting to get scared. We were happy to get away from that place, but later we just felt like a bunch of idiots for stepping into this trap.
      Back at the hostel, our other roommates saw the bracelets and asked about it. We told them what had happened, and then they said they had the same experience, but just pulled away their arms and walked on, ignoring them, before those swindlers could start weaving their strings.

    • #5867 Reply
      Bryan Higgins

      This happened to me and my girlfriend last night at about 5:45pm local time after taking the elevator/cable car type thing down from the scare coœur. As we got to the bottom of the hill 3 men approached us and blocked any way out for us and starting claiming they were ‘Kenyan artists’ and they pulled my arm out of my pocket and started weaving string around it and another man dragged my girlfriend away from me so I couldn’t see her and he started doing the same to her, I became very intimidated and scared. At this point I pretty much realised we were about to be mugged in a busy public area and there was nothing we could do about it. Because they’re weaving bracelets they make it look like they’re selling us something so the French locals don’t realise we’re being mugged. As soon as he was done with the bracelet, he could already see my wallet slightly poking out of my coat pocket and demanded I get it out or he would. As I dealt threatened at this point I got it out and handed him €20 which is what he demanded but then he said I needed to pay for my girlfriend too despite her telling me afterwards they’d still taken €20 off of her. He was insitant I paid for her too and as I said I wasn’t willing to pay anymore, he wrapped his arm around my arm and kind of interlocked them so I couldn’t go anywhere and the rest of this gang of muggers (there were another 8 of them loitering) all began to approach us as soon as they saw he was forcefully holing me, he demanded another €20 which I then gave him feeling rather threatened and then again asked for even more which I physically didn’t have. He then asked if I had english money so I handed him a £10 note and he let me go and let my girlfriend go. He then nodded to the other 8 of them as if to say let them go now. He then hi fived me after saying ‘thank you very much, you’re a great help’. This isn’t even a scam, this is just a more polite way of mugging someone, a scammer doesn’t hold someone violently and forcefully until they pay them enough, that’s a mugger. I would avoid taking the stairs after 5:30 from the sacre cœur or taking the cable car/ escalator type thing. We both felt so stupid after this incident and were both only 17 so this was quite frightening for us.

    • #16354 Reply

      You should not be afraid to either 1. Run or 2. Scream for help. We work too hard for our money to give it away to thieves. We already knew about this scam though and I was very mindful of people approaching us, giving us Romero plants and what not throughout our trip. My money was always safetly stowed away and I carried a walled with very little cash in it.

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