Most travelers who visit Paris will probably visit Montmartre as it is one of the best places in Paris with absolutely amazing views of Paris – of course, other than the Eiffel Tower! Just keep in mind that where tourist flock, so do pickpockets and other scam artists. One of the main areas that Paris pickpockets and scam artists target tourists visiting Paris is at the Montmartre, where for years, these scammers have been positioning themselves along are the steps that you must climb to reach the top of Montmartre.
These Paris scammers can be very aggressive and will try to engauge you in a variety of conversations and scams. They will try to sell you a variety of cheap tourist trinkets, and well as try to pull the infamous “Paris String Scam” or also known as the “Bracelet Scam” on unknowing tourists visiting the Montmartre. While many of these scammers will be found on the lower portion of the steps, they may be found all around the Montmartre. Once you begin your walk up the steps, you will see dozens of guys there trying to sell you little colorful thread bracelets. They will aggressively approach you and simply ask you to hold your index finger out or wrist.
Then they will loop a thread around your finger or wrist to create a ring or bracelet. When you tell them you are not interested, they repeatedly tell you there is no cost, they will represent themselves as somehow associated with the church. Once they complete the bracelet, they will guilt and pressure you into paying for it, and will use the line that it is a donation for the church.
You will be lucky if you are only taken for a few coins in this scam, but many travelers have reported that during the time when they made the mistake of holding out their finger for the string to be tied around their finger, a few other guys came around and appeared to be ‘watching’ the trick. When the trick is done, and you end up being pressured into giving the guy a few coins from your pocket…travelers have reported that their wallet was gone…obviously taken by one other men who crowded around to watch the trick!
Video Demonstration of the Paris String Scam, also known as the Paris Bracelet Scam
The following are a few videos that show how the Paris String Scam, also known as the Paris Bracelet Scam works. While this scam occurs around Europe, it is very prominently found at the Montmartre in Paris. While the first video below was filmed at the Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy, it provides you a great view on how the scam works. The videos following the first show the String Scam occurring at the Montmartre.