France – Watch Out for the Infamous Paris String or Friendship Bracelet Scam

“France – Watch Out for the Infamous Paris String or Friendship Bracelet Scam”

Via “Corporate Travel Safety”

A Famous Tourist Scam in Paris, France

You’ll find this scam is one of the top  scams in Paris, France. It’s been around for many years, (because it works) and is known as the “Friendship Bracelet Scam” the “Paris String Scam” or by the name given to those who try to commit the scam on you, “Bracelet Pushers.” The scam is committed by who many describe as “string men” or as local Paris merchants call them “con-merchants.” Non-french speaking tourists are targeted the most. While the Paris Friendship Bracelet Scam is popular in Paris, it can also be found at many tourist locations outside of Paris in France too, and to a lesser extent in other countries such as Italy and Spain.

Paris Friendship or String Scam

Where the String Scam Occurs

One of the most common Paris locations where you’ll find the Friendship Bracelet Scam practiced is throughout the Montmartre area.  Specifically the scammers will target tourists and first time visitors as they approach and walk up the giant staircase that leads from the Metro to the Sacre Coeur area of the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur. This is a popular stomping ground for tourists and is Montmartre’s leading tourist attraction, and probably the most-visited church in Paris. Visitors to Paris should also be aware that this scam is also prevalent at many of the Metro lines and stations that  you travel on to get to this location.

The “string men” seem to usually target female tourists (but not always) as they enter the small fenced square below Sacré-Coeur and proceed toward the stairs that run up the hillside.  You can spot the “string men” as they are usually lined up on the sides of the stairs leading to the Sacre-Coeur. These innocent looking people are annoying “con-merchants” who have the “Paris String Scam” honed down to a science.

How the String Scam Plays Out

The scam begins like this. One of the “‘string men” walks up to you and engages you in innocent conversation and will usually say that they want to show you a magic trick.  Before you know it, a “string man” has grabbed your wrist or one or two fingers and encircled it with a homemade bracelet of colored string.

Typically the string men will say something to you like “it’s for the church” or “a gift.”  Sometimes the string men are more polite (they’ll ask the visitor to hold a string) and before you know it, the string men will somehow manage to grab your wrist or fingers and encircle it with a homemade bracelet of colored string, yarn, or other crafty-looking item.

Next, when the string men finish making your new “local Paris string bracelet souvenir,” they will demand payment of around €20 which is quite obviously not what the bracelet is worth. If you fail to pay them, they will doggedly follow you and be VERY insistent that you provide some amount of payment. These “con-merchants” are so demanding, they succeed in intimidating many tourists into paying them because it’s the only way to get rid of them.

Another variation of this scam occurs when the string men find a couple and offer the woman a  friendship bracelet.  When the woman kindly denies, the scammer tells her there is no charge.  To get the scammer to leave them alone, the woman offers her wrist and the scammer ties the “Friendship Bracelet” on her wrist.  A second scammer then appears and offers another “Friendship Bracelet” to the man. The man thinks to himself, “well if they are free why not?” and then he offers his wrist to the scammer.  Once the Friendship Bracelets are tied onto the wrists . . . .

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“The Study Abroad Scam”

“The Study-Abroad Scam: 

Finding the Right Study Abroad Program”

by Rebecca Schuman via “Slate.com

Too many programs take your money but give you little in return— or enrich your skimming university. Here’s how to choose the right one.

A tourist in Paris.

Finals might be over for the year, but summer is peak study-abroad season, so for many American college students, a new adventure begins: Overstuffed backpacks! Malaria shots! The superpack of Durexes (alas, to remain unused)!
The vast majority of study-abroad programs are eligible for financial aid—but does that make them a bargain? These days, a number of college study-abroad programs are less about cultural enrichment, and more about enriching the for-profit companies that run them—or, ugh, the universities themselves, which often get foreign tuition for a steal, and then pass none of the savings along to students.
The New York state Legislature is concerned about this: Both its chambers have sponsored bills (one by Republican Kenneth LaValle; the other by Democrat Deborah Glick) that would require the state’s universities to disclose the actual costs of their study-abroad programs—including any perquisites (that is, free stuff) offered to university employees in exchange for enrollment. The bill comes, Inside Higher Edreports, as a result of an investigation begun in 2007 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (then attorney general), in which he suspected universities were “being unduly influenced by perks like free or subsidized overseas travel and commissions on student fees.”
As the number of students going abroad has more than tripled in the past two decades, hundreds of unscrupulous ventures have popped up to meet students’demand for the broadening of horizons (and, OK, the lowering of the drinking age). The red flags of a foreign-exchange flimflam artist can be pretty easy to spot if you know what you’re looking for. But many of those warning signs become obscured once a program has been given a university’s official partnership and good name. . . . .

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