Be Careful in Paris and Don’t Fall for the – Fake Petitioner Scam
The fake petition scam has been going on in France, Italy, and Spain for years because it is so successful. It’s a scam many first time visitors fall for because it starts out as what appears to be a legitimate conversation with a friendly local. You should avoid like the plague. You can usually find con-artists with clip boards at many of the larger metropolitan tourist destination.
The con-artists usually try to surround groups of happy tourists that they find wandering around. Keep this in mind – if you are or see that you are about to be approached by clipboard-wielding teens who greet you with smiles and genuine interest – know that you are very possibly being set up for any number of scams to relieve you of your money.
Victimized travelers have many different variations of how they fell victim to scammer who targeted them with the “fake petition” scam – with some of the scams being very unpleasant. To avoid the fake petition scam, if anyone approaches you holding a clipboard, or holding a piece of paper that may even remotely look like a petition, do not let them engage you in conversation. Simply say firmly “non merci” and walk away. Do not let them engage you in conversation., because if you do, you might end up like the man in the video below.
Watch the below video to see how these fake petitioners operate and rip off unsuspecting travelers.
Another variation is that the scammer targets unsuspecting targets who are sitting down at a café table. The scammer looks specifically for someone who may have a cell phone or camera on the table and uses the fake petition scam as a distraction to steal it. The thief’s job is that when they walk up to your table, they need to engage you in conversation while they put their clipboard or papers on top of your phone or camera. The thief trys to do this in a way that you won’t notice what they are doing – again facilated by engauging you in a verbal conversation.
After a short conversation, and with the hope that you were also able to get you to “donate” to there scam cause, the thief walks away, with your cell phone or camera under their clip board or other paperwork. Most times these thieves are so skilled that it takes some victims some time to even realize they have been ripped off. Leason learned here is keep your guard up against overly friendly strangers and always be aware of your possessions when they are sitting on a table.
The scam works this way. Once you sign what you think is a petition, the scammer will insist that you make a donation to whatever cause the petition is for. If you don’t give a “donation” the scammer will point to the paper you signed that says you have agreed to give a donation. If you still don’t give a donation, the scammer comes up with another trick, they will tell you that if you don’t give a donation they (the scammer – or as they may call themselves “petitioner” will have to personally give the pledge money to the cause you signed for. If you resist, other youths may come to their aid as a way to pressure you to pay. The scene can escalate from there in various manners, including the use of other thieves who may try to steal your bag as you are distracted by the argument.
Here is another video in which a victim of the fake petition scam ripped him off – learn from others so you don’t fall victim to the same scam.