France may be well-known for romance, extraordinary wines, perfectly crusty baguettes and incredible cheeses, but there’s another less glamorous accolade tagged onto the country. France is famous for its pocket thieves and swindlers. As you may expect, petty crimes, bag-snatchings and pickpocketing are more commonplace in the cities than the suburbs, but travellers need to be on alert throughout the country.

Cities like Paris, Nice, Marseilles and Strasbourg are high-activity spots for petty crime. Public transportation, hotel lobbies, tourist attractions, restaurants and cafes are just a few of the spots that thieves target in France. Pay attention to the top 5 Scams in France and stay aware of them so you can hopefully stay off thieves’ radar.

The “Gold Ring” Scam

You’re wandering around a city and someone stops you to hand you a golden ring and ask if it’s yours. You say no, but the person insists that you keep it. You’re walking with your friend, girlfriend, wife, and what a wonderful gift to give her on your holiday. They’ll point to the 18k hallmark on the inside of the ring and then say something along the lines of “Wow that was lucky!” You take the ring and then the person asks if you could spot him/her 30 euros for lunch and dinner. You give them the money, because you just got a gold ring for free!

The “Friendship Bracelet” Scam

As you take in the sights Montmartre has to offer in Paris, and one of the vendors around its base shows you a beautiful bracelet for an amazing price—for you, just 5 euros! They even let you try it on. Then, when you decide it doesn’t suit you and hand the bracelet back, the seller will claim forcefully they can’t take it back and you must pay for it because you are wearing it. They demand quick payment before you can say no regardless of if you ever wanted it or not.

The “Lost Soul” Scam

A small group of people walk up to you and say they are lost and ask for directions. You want to help if you can, because you’ve been there before and would’ve loved help. One of the “lost souls” opens a large map and has you help them find their way back to the hotel they’re staying in. As the group surrounds you and the map, one of the group will pickpocket you.

The “Do You Speak English?” Scam

Someone will approach you asking if you speak English and then aggressively give you a card with a sad story and ask for money to help them with their trials and tribulations. Persistence is their key strength and groups of them will continue to push for cash if you say no.

The “String Trick” Scam

You are walking along when a couple of people come up to you. They start a conversation with you and say they want to show you a magic trick where they tie a string around one or two of your fingers. You like the trick and walk about happy, charmed by the locals who shared their trick. The real trick is while you are distracted with the magic, one of the accomplices helped themselves to your wallet or contents of your bag.

No one wants to lose their belongings or their hard-earned money. Pay attention, stay alert and know the scams before you get to France and you’ll be light-years ahead of other tourists who don’t know what’s coming. Add an extra layer of protection by choosing an international travel insurance plan from Cover-More Australia.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Eric Chan.