Friendship bracelets, diamond rings, petitions and gladiators – just say NO.

Posted by Jennie

I have witnessed all of the above and have fallen for 2 out of 4. I hope you don’t fall for any of them. Here are the scams and how they work.

The Friendship Bracelet.

I’ve seen this in Paris at Champ de Mars where the  Eiffel Tower is and at the foot of the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre. You will be approached by a group of African men. Sometimes one or two sometimes more. Initially they will be very friendly they will offer you a friendship bracelet as a “gift.” Beware it is not a gift. First of all do not engage. Ignore. Watch out because they will put a bracelet on your wrist even against your will. When they’ve succeeded in doing so, you will be asked to pay for the bracelet. Usually E5 or E10. If you refuse, they will become very aggressive, they will shout, harass and embarrass you. They will even threaten to report you for “stealing.” Most tourists pay out of fear or just to shut them up. I’ve seen one tourist take the bracelet off and throw it back at the scammers face. Good for her! So again the best thing to do is – do not engage, do not make eye contact. Just walk away.

Fertile ground for the Bracelet Scam

The Diamond Ring.

This happened to me while crossing the Pont des Arts bridge to the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. Your attention will be called, usually by a gypsy. There is an expensive looking ring on the ground, is it yours? You look at the ring and say no, the lady says it’s a very expensive ring, worth thousands of Euros. She will ask you whether you would like to buy the ring from her for fraction of the price. I’ve read that some people actually fall for this and buy the ring, only to find out that it is worthless. Like the Bracelet Scam the best thing to do is not to engage and walk away.

The Petition.

In the area of  Basilica Santa Maria Novella in Florence, you may encounter a group of young and friendly women who will very politely engage you in conversation by asking you if you speak English. They will have a clipboard in hand and will look very official. Then they will ask you if you want to help teenage girls who are in drug rehab. This is where I ended up “donating” E15. I can’t be sure if they are legit or not but my gut feel is they are not. The next time I travelled to Florence, the same thing happened. This time I didn’t fall for it. You shouldn’t either. Politely say no and walk away.

Basilica Santa Maria Novela, Florence

The Roman Gladiators.

This at least, is worth a photograph. When visiting famous tourist spots in Rome, there will be big men in full gladiator costume. Usually 3 or 4 of them. They’re jolly and smiling and loud. They are also very aggressive. Before you know it you will be taking a photo with them. They will say only E10, very cheap. Gladiator 1 and 2 join you for a photo and gladiator 3 takes the photo. You think it’s E10 right? Wrong, it’s E10 euro per gladiator. Oh well, if you really must have your photo taken with gladiators at least agree on the price before the photo is taken.

If you have any scams stories, please share them with us! Best to know what to avoid!