Metro ticket scam

Metro-ticket-scam-ParisIn this scam, the swindlers are inside the metro stations, especially those below the train stations at which all the tourists arrive in Paris. They are constantly on the lookout for tourists just arriving in the city, who are inexperienced with the ticket vending machines and who are uninformed on the ticket prices. They pretend to be friendly commuters trying to help the tourists buy metro tickets, but in reality their only goal is to rip the tourists off. And the really bold ones try to pick their victim’s pockets at the same time.

The scam goes as follows: a tourist or a couple of tourists is trying to figure out how the ticket vending machine works or which type of ticket they should buy. Then they are approached by a local who asks them if they need any help. He will ask them if they’ve just arrived in Paris to check whether they are an easy victim. He then asks them where they want to go and how long they are staying in Paris. But no matter what the answer is, he will then quickly browse through the menu and select the most expensive ticket available from the machine, usually a multi-day, all zones, all services ticket. When the tourist has entered his or her credit or debit card for the payment, he signals them to remove it, as he claims it has been rejected because it’s a foreign card. Paris-metro-ticket-rip_offHe offers to help them out by using his card, and they can pay him back in cash. He will enter his card while his other hand secretly pushes the cancel button. He then pretends to finish his payment and unnoticeably takes a ticket he already had out of his pocket. When he pretends to take out a freshly printed out of the vending machine, it’s actually the ticket he from his pocket, which is a single fare for children, the cheapest ticket available. The tourist then pays the scammer the amount of the expensive ticket that he just pretended to have paid by card, and he will sometimes even finish his act by accompanying his victim to the correct entrance of the trains.

As the gates are operated automatically, they will open with any ticket that’s entered, including a children’s ticket. The tourists won’t find out they’ve been scammed until they reach the station of their destination and the gates refuse to open because their ticket isn’t valid for this zone, or even worse: when they’re being fined by a public transport officer for traveling on a cheap children’s ticket.

Meanwhile, the scammer has just sold a 60 cent ticket for over 20 Euro’s and is nowhere to be found. Be aware that a one-way ticket to anywhere within the city center can cost you no more than 2 Euro’s and a full-day-ticket is less than 7 Euro’s, so if you’re asked to pay anything more than that, you’re being ripped off.

Find experiences from real victims or post your own story in our Paris and France Tourist Scams Forum.


  1. This was tried on me. I was at the station and a man of Indian or Pakistani decent approached me with semi good English speaking abilities while I was at the ticket machine. He started typing the ticket and chose a 50euro ticket. I then said I need cash and he tried to accompany me too the atm. On the way to the atm, I told him to go away I do not trust him. He said no problem and hid while I walked to the atm machine. As I approached the atm I saw him hiding around the corner so I walked up to him to tell him to get lost but he ran away so I walked outside to see if he was following. I was then approached by a undercover police man who I was also suspect on. I told the police everything and decided to walk to my hostel.

    • Barry Love says

      Just happened to me today 😔 I was so sucked in by it at Le Pigelle Metro station. Bought 2 x all day tickets for €50 Euro – exact same thing happened. She gave us 2 x child’s tickets at 0.75 cents and I didn’t realised until I was about to board. She had ID on her was of Roma origin, thin long black hair, spoke good English. I should’ve known something was wrong when someone in Paris was helpful lol. I blame the Paris transport board for this – inadequate staffing, guidance to passengers and poor measures for detterance.

      • Wow! I can’t believe this is still happening!!! This happened to my sister and I back on 2015- the office center was about 5 steps from the machines we were at but it is hidden- we hadn’t seen it until we were scammed out 100 euros – I knew it was weird but my sister didn’t listen and paid the guy (he kept flashing a badge he had around his neck) and he ran off. There should be at least an actual staff member there to help or at least to point out were the help desk is- that’s were we bought the correct tickets with an actual person behind the counter.

      • Johann van der Eycke says

        It has happened to me too today, just as described but I’ve seen the price of the ticket, 75 cents on the time. It smelled like the scam from the beginning, he approached us at the machine, he offered us most expensive and with no questions at all, do we need help. I’ve succeeded to put my wallet back in the safe pocket. He escorted us to gates and asked for the money and refused to give. We’ve just left the station in came back later and bought it. It just unbelievable how is it possible, why the metro staff controls not the at least frequent stations, city’s main train and bus station

  2. Exactly that happened to me and I could kick myself for being so stupid. If you give the tout Money in excess of the amount charged he’ll give you the difference in Change. Next time I’ll have a few forged 50Euro notes at the ready so that at least I’ll get something back.

  3. We are still in Budapest. We two ladies are tourist from Sri Lanka. I have read long before I came here about tourist scam. I also read Metro Scam story. So we were carefully travelled here and we always bought tickets and also before getting to bus we showed our tickets and asked if these tickets are fine to travel. But yesterday we faced a horrible insident which we never expected in our life and we are frequent travellers too. We came to Budapest after traveling in 5 other countries which we enjoyed throughly.
    So, yesterday morning we went to Keleti Staion and bought two tickets to go to Rozedome. We went to Blaha M2 and got on to metro. We got off at Betthny. We heard an announcement ” ticket checkers are waiting please keep your ticket with you. We followed that and got on to the high escalater. As we come out from the escalater, there were about 10-15 checker in a que to check tickets. I have never seen this funny way of checking ticket in anywhere in the world. So two checkers stopped both of us and they winked each other. Then they said these tickets are not valied. We asked what is the reason. But they haven’t had any reason they also didn’t know English. They kept on telling “no valid no valid ” and took a peace of paper and showed us please pay 160000 forint. We argued we are hornets people from well reputed family we never cheat. They never listen to us they threaten us saying if they don’t pay they call the police. We said of course please call the police. But they didn’t call the police. They forced us take the credit card and come with me I ll show you an ATM. We said we don’t have credit cards I showed my volet . Fortunately I had only €40. One checker grabbed that 40 and asked where’s your ID we said those are in the hotel. Then repeatedly asked pay 16000ft. We said pleas call the police we are unable to pay. Then he asked where are you going I said Rozdome. He said come with me to show the map. We went behind him. There is a map in a hidden place. He just showed ” this is rose dome and gave us 4 tickets saying, ” these are return tickets” .
    We took that and went out sadly. Then we saw a policeman we went to him and told the story he couldn’t understand English. But there were a women police we went to her and told the story. She was great. She was very angry and told us to come with her to Sho the man. We went with her and another policeman. When we went there he was shocked. His supported ( other checking officers) slowly moved. Firstly this WPC asked how did you give these 4 tickets to these ladies” he said No no no I didn’t give tickets. But she understood he lied. Then she asked where the €40? He soon pulled out from inside his coat and showed saying these ladies dint have valid tickets. By that time he had hidden the tickets he took from us. WPC said he is saying you dint have valued tickets. Then we asked him to show our tickets but he had no answer. More than half an hour we were there. But ultimately more police came after WPC called some.
    Then one police officer got and €40 and gave it to me. But he was given tight by the WPC. Though we couldn’t understand the language, body language showed it. Finally we thank the police and wen away.
    Please be aware this metro scamp. I also thought why this country can’t have a system like England check tickets. It’s so funny standing a que of elderly checking officers ( thieves). If this government can fix sky high escalated but why can’t they fix checking machine like Germany and England. I wonder weather they encourage country people to ripoff tourists?
    These thrives are inhuman because they haven’t an ounce of brain to think that tourist spent so much money in their country and they survive from them,
    What a nasty people. We are thouroughly disappointed in Budapest.

  4. This scam was tried on us too. We tried to buy tickets from chatelet to the disney parks, and were just about to complete a purchase when a chap in a blue jacket, but no name tag, came over to help. He said the tickets we were about to buy were for the bus and then proceeded to thoroughly confuse us by selecting much more expensive tickets. But when he wanted cash for buying the tickets for us alarm bells started ringing and we walked off. Thankfully, the staffed ticket window had opened by then. The ticket lady sold us the correct tickets to marne le vallee chessy for 7.60 euros per single ticket. She said the ‘helpful’ guy was most definitely a thief. Beware of official looking people without proper badges or id.

  5. Kristien says

    I got scammed today at Porte Maillot station. It happened pretty much as how described in the article and I lost €25 b/c of it. I cannot believe how unscrupulous these lowlifes are and how I fell for it! Advice and note to self: never give someone cash money when you feel bewildered, b/c in that moment you are probably getting scammed.

  6. Nearly had the same happen to me today in paris – wasn’t lining up at the information desk to ask about a tourist pass, and a man wearing some kind of uniform came over and pointed us to the ticket machine. He selected a zone 1-5 – I said no, 1-3 is what we need – he picked it and then as I went to put in my card, he said “no, French cards only, cash only” – I queried this, having used my card just fine yesterday. He then swiped a pass and got tickets, leaving me somewhat confused. At this point a genuine official appeared and he ran off. Fortunately nothing seemed to be stolen, and we hadn’t given him any cash. Left us a bit shook up though.

  7. Anonymous says

    I got scammed €171.50 today, tickets for 7 people. I ended up getting the lady arrested, it took several hours but I got my money back. If these people scam you, notify the information desk, or any security people asap. The lady was still scamming people after 15 minutes of me realizing it and coming back. I would have just confronted them and got my money back, but it was nice that I found security and just got her arrested instead. She was scamming other people when I got back. Someone else thanked us because he had got scammed a lot too, for fake Disney World Train tickets a few days ago.

  8. nom de plume says

    just after we arrived at Gare du Nord we went to the metro ticket machine as directed by station employees. As we were reading the information on the machine a tall man of European descent dressed like an employee (one piece blue jump suit) approached us and offered to help. Result: we were scammed for E140! We knew about all of the scams and were trying to be careful. We went to the police and made a report. And they took me on a running tour of the whole station to try to find the scammer. They have a full description of him – and maybe they will see him on the cameras. Just before he spoke to us he had tried the same thing on other tourists.

  9. Myself and my husband were scammed in a similar way in Paris a couple of weeks ago. We were at the information/ticket office deciding which ticket to buy. We decided on the 3 day ticket costing E26.50 each. A man suddenly approached us and said we couldn’t buy tickets at the desk and took us to the machine and showed us how it worked. At first it showed up as a 5 day pass and I said that was too much we wanted a 3 day pass, so he went through it again, then he asked what zone we wanted, kept asking questions trying to distract and confuse us it now seems. He got up the 3 day pass for zone 1 and I went to put my card in, nothing happened so tried again. The man then said “no” cash only which I thought was odd and was looking to see where to put the notes. He then said come with me and took us over to the map and asked us where we were going, he then handed us tickets to put through the machine onto the platform. At this point I was totally confused because I hadn’t seen him pay for any tickets (he must have had them with him all the time). I then stupidly handed him the cash 53 euros for two what turned out to be single tickets costing E1.80 each. The train them came he went in a different door to us and when we sat down and looked at the tickets realised we had been scammed.

  10. We got scammed too. Exactly the same way. 5 tickets purchased by cash to one of these cnuts for 89. Euros. Hats off to their slickness. Cant work out how the machine rejected our credit card

  11. Me and my two other friends were going to Versailles. We were trying to buy a ticket for it and then a friendly man approached to us and ask if we need any help. We told him where we were going and then he chose tickets for about 80€. But we googled earlier that we should pay 4€- he said that this tickets are for buses and we have to switch it very often so we decided to go by Uber. He left after that and we again tried to buy the tickets (because earlier we checked which one we should buy and something was wrong with those expensive tickets). While we were buying for the second time another man came and chose the same tickets – that’s when we knew it was a scam. Finally we went to buy to another machine, where a lady tried the same. You should be careful not only with the scams but also with your belongings so they won’t steal anything from you while you are distracted.

  12. Nathan Hickton says

    Think this was tried on me at Disneyland Paris. A woman came up to myself and my partner to see if we needed help and asked if we was English. A very tired and short fused me after a 3 hour Eurostar delay said (probably snapped lol) to her I didn’t need help I’ve done this before. She wasn’t best pleased by my tone of voice I can tell you now saying she can save me money blah blah blah (pull the other one love!) I didn’t care if it was a honestly friendly person or a scammer I just wanted to get a ticket to Val d’Europe (one stop down the RER A) Now I did end up getting frustrated with the machine but that was user error not thinking straight! I do also hold a Navigo Decouverte and can speak some french which helps!

  13. Today I was with my mother in Javel station ( we were trying to go to Versailles), and a friendly man with blue t-shirt and something like a “carnet” approached to us for “help us” to get the tickets. And same story, I stupidly handed him the cash 78 euros for two what turned out to be single tickets costing E1.90. Javel is a very lonely station and without no security, so was easy for him do it. And the best part, in the end he accompanied us to the line and said goodbye with a friendly shaked hands.

  14. Caroline says

    We got scammed too. A Woman with a badge approach us in the Etoile station when we were trying to buy metro tickets for disney. Se said the machine just accept French card or money. Then she said that for 4 people would be 100 euros. And we paid that, but she gave us a ticket that costs0,75 . Minutes after I realized I was scammed. Then I found a staff from the company and the guy said he knows that everyday this woman is there doing this and nobody do anything.

  15. This was perhaps the dummest of all scams. A group of us were swimming at the beach when a man approached us wearing shorts, a long-sleeve shirt and a baseball cap, which itself is unusual as Europeans usually don’t wear such hats. He announced that he was beach police and demanded to see our tickets. The public entrance to the beach is wide open and free to all. We said we had no tickets, then asked him to have the people next to us show us their ticket so we would know what they look like. Ignoring us 2 guys, he concentrated on the girls, demanding 20 Euro each. We said show us a badge or ID, but he ignored us and tried to put his hand inside a bag. That’s when I shoved him, saying get lost or I’ll kick your ass. He backed away, babbling about tickets and fines and getting the cops. Violence is never the solution, but in this particular case the skinny sleaseball was so slimy that first reaction is, no way is this jerk a cop. Plus he had to fight 2 guys which he didn’t want to do. Punks like this use bluster and intimidation to bluff you out of your money, so stand firm while looking for your chance to quickly leave.

  16. This happened to me. I felt so stupid. The man sold me a two-day ticket and told me the machine wouldn’t accept more than 15 Eutos as I had a foreign card. What really upset me though is the transit employees I told (when I eventually discovered I have been scammed) could not care less. They said it happens All the time and could not even be bothered to help me report it. If it is so common why doesn’t the metro system post signs warning people? Why don’t they notify hotels to warn their guests? I was really shocked at how inconsiderate and frankly rude the staff were.

  17. Amanda Smith says

    Be careful of being scammed on Paris Metro. A woman and man approached me and my husband trying to get us to purchase metro tickets we didn’t need at a huge cost. We declined their help . I later observed both the man and the woman to remove their “fake ids” and get on the train. I think the best advice is , don’t fall for someone offering you help as it is pretty unusual for someone to offer unsolicited help in Paris .

  18. This happened to me too! I went to the Paris EST train station. A lady with a badge came to me and told me that she is working as an assistant at the station. I bought 4 day tickets for 100 Euro! From the first moment that she approached me, I knew something was wrong. I even took a foto of her badge! After a few hours, I went back to the police station but they told me that they don’t have enough personnel due to the holidays!

  19. scam was attempted on me today at the Louvre-de Rivoli station on line 1. Tried to purchase a 5 day pass for zones 1-4..immediately this kid of pakistani or Indian descent came over, flashed a p ” badge” and offered to help. He swiped my credit cart faster than I had time to realize, then said the machine would not take my card. He insisted the machine only took french cards or cash. He then swiped his card and produced 2 tickets as though they came from nowhere. then he tried to sell us these fake tickets . He even followed us down the street insisting we find an ATM machine . Truly sad these trash of the earth ruin other peoples vacations for a few dollars. BEWARE . If you feel confused, and over-helped, its probably a scam.

  20. Husband and I were trying to buy an RER ticket to Versaille. A young lady with a badge claimed to work at the station and came to help us as we were inserting our credit card. She said the machine does not take cards and then chose a 70 euro option for us. She suggested we give her cash and she will buy our ticket with her credit card. My husband whipped out a hundred dollar bill and gave it to her… everything about this felt wrong so at that point, I stepped in and told her we change our minds and we want the money back. She protested and said ‘no refund’ but when i began hollering Police! Police! She gave me back our money and ran off. We did all our reading and were aware of scams, but it kinda just happened… we almost fell for it. Always beware and follow your gut. My husband was feeling badly, because the gal was so friendly, but I couldn’t stand around and get scammed!! Reminded me that scammers are NICE and sweet…

  21. Thatcher says

    Yes the same thing happened to us today. We really should have known because it seemed very fishy, but considering we thought we saw her click the pass for 4 days we thought it was legit and the badge really influenced us as well. We really should have known though but it is truly embarrassing that there is not staff to stop this sort of stuff. What a horrible system there is that this has been going on for years and more awareness is not spread. Had no clue about anything until we were denied and I read this blog

  22. Its wierd that this is happening in public place with cameras and security near by, and nobody takes care of it. Guy who sold me 2 cheap tickets for 110 Eur, was wearing a bage, and was looking official, we where chating what ticket to buy for a few minutes, there was other people around and everything seemd to be normal. If this problem is well known, why there is no solution?

  23. We were trying to buy tickets at Etoile station today, (11th Sept around 10am) an eastern European Male with an ID badge offered to help. He seemed friendly and picked the most expensive 1 day travel cards, a pair for €50. We thought that was expensive and alarm bells started ringing when he said this is the only way and there were no alternative ways to get to Louvre when we suggested using the bus as a cheaper alternative. We simply stepped away and politely said we would think about it as something didn’t seem right. The scammer then went to the adjacent machine and tried helping a larger group of tourists and we watched, slightly confused and not knowing what was going on and then witnessed a good samaritan, a local commuter grab the scammer and as the scammer broke free and tried to run away, he gave him a hard kick in the butt and chased him away. He then told everyone that the guy was a “pickpocket” and everyone thanked him. At the time I thought the scammer was using distraction tactics to actually “pickpocket” but know realise the actual scam. I later read these posts and realised how closed we had come to getting ripped off – many thanks to the local hero who saved the day. Disappointed just like all the others who have posted here that the station staff were nowhere to be seen. A staffed station or at least some signs warning tourists would have been great. Glad to have read these posts so I can be on the lookout next time and warn others if I see this happen again.

  24. This just happened to us last month and thankfully our instincts kicked in (almost too late) and we walked away. So we had bought our tickets outside at a machine. We walked to Chalelet, went underground and were looking at the map when a man who appeared to be an employee approached and asked if we needed help. He then walked us to the ticket machine and I told him we already had tickets. He looked at them and said “no good” for where we were going. Now, I was sure I had purchased the right tickets but he was adamant that they were not. He then enters 3 day passes for 5 people. I said no, and he backs it down to 1 day (so I thought). Then he says our American card will not work and inserts his card and yes, I think he tried to confuse us so we wouldn’t pay too much attention but then says we owe him 60 euros. We didn’t have that amount of cash – at which point he leads us outside to an ATM machine. Finally, we refused. We had felt uncomfortable since he said our tickets were not good but he seemed legit. Once we said NO he kept saying at least give me my money back. Hell no. Of course, the tickets I had already purchased were good! I knew all about pickpockets, the petition people and other scams in Paris but did not expect this one. It is crazy that it still goes on- apparently on a large scale.

  25. Just got scammed today for 50 Euro at Gare du Nord. Be very careful guys, a middle aged lady showed up when we are trying to buy a day ticket. To a foreigner unfamiliar with the transport system in Paris, she looks like a station employee wearing a lanyard with official looking logo and teal jacket uniform. First she told us we can’t buy from the ticket machine we are on, and guide us to another ticket machine on a quieter location. Then she quickly guides us to the most expensive 5 zones tourist ticket which feels a bit dodgy since we only need a metro around the city, but she insisted that we need that ticket to visit the Eiffel Tower. When I am about to pay with my Credit Card, she insisted that the machine only accepts France Bank Card only, even when MasterCard and Visa logo are visible on the machine and insisted we pay with Cash, and since the machine only accepts coins, there is no way we’re going to pay 50 Euro with coins. She then decided to help us. Using her landyard to tap on the machine, and dispensed 2 tickets. Then we handed her 50.5 Euro and thank her for the tickets. To my untrained eye, the ticket looks legit, we go our way to our hotel, but when we want to reuse the ticket, it’s no longer valid. We check the attended information kiosk to found out we just had been scammed, and these tickets are a child single trip tickets.

    We also noticed later on that the price on the ticket has been marked off so it is no longer visible. If you are buying metro tickets, make sure the price are visible clearly on the tickets.

    I would also partially blame the Paris public transport for allowing this to happen, a better, user friendly ticketing system, or better labelling on the tickets could easily prevent this to happen. What a terrible start to my holiday.

  26. Happened to all four of us !!! On our way to versaille from Place de Clichy…. he was a fast talker and scammed us…. verbatim as noted above! Over 120 euros. Shame on the person in the guichet…. we actually wk seees if the official was in on it (he acted aloof when we realized what happened and brought it up to him). He said “if you need anything in Paris, do it yourself”.
    Still love Paris and will continue to visit.

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