Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Another City, Another Scam

Back in January 2011, I wrote about a Gold Ring Scam I fell for while visiting Paris during the winter of 2010. Recently, I was reminded of the following scam I fell for while visiting New Orleans in 2012. Apparently, it is a well known scam in the city, but unfortunately, I had never heard of it.

While out walking one day I was approached by a local person of doubtful character who complimented me on my boots! I immediately sensed that I was about to be scammed by a panhandler for a dollar or two, but this guy was better than most. He wanted to guess, with absolute certainty "Where you got your boots." I tried to ignore him, and said there was no way he could know where I got my boots, but he was insistent, so I let him guess, since he was quite persistent, and didn't seem to be able to take "No" for an answer.

Sucked in again, Jim!

Of course, he knew exactly where I "...got my boots."

"You got your boots on your feet!" he crowed triumphantly.

With that, he bent down and smeared some gunk on both boots and then insisted on cleaning them for me - for an 'donation' of course. I wasn't too happy about the scam, but took it in good humor when I realised he wasn't alone, and that a couple of friends were providing back up for this con man.

However, my good humor quickly soured when he (and his friends) tried to scam me out of $20 for the so-called 'shoe cleaning', I baulked and gave him $9.00 in small bills, which he happily took. I did have a $20 note, but I was not going to give him that if I could help it. I suspect that if I had only given him $5 he would have been just as happy with that, but what the heck.

I paid because, just like the gold ring scammer in Paris, I should have known better, but despite my Scammer Alert warning system, I still fell for his patter, and for that I needed to pay for my stupidity. I also paid because I had a feeling that his own 'good humor' and that of his friends might also have turned sour very quickly, and I was in no position to defend myself against three men.

Next time - and there will always be a next time - I hope I have the presence of mind and the good sense, to simply ignore the scammer and walk away before they have time to launch into their well rehearsed patter.

By the way, I was in Paris again just last month, and the 'Gold Ring Scam' as I like to call it, is still going strong. This time I was approached by some guy trying to con me while I was visiting the Eiffel Tower, but of course he went away empty handed.

And while I’m at it, if you ever go to Paris, watch out for the young women (and they always seem to be young women), who claim they are collecting money for institutions providing services for people with disabilities of one sort or other (mostly for the deaf or deaf-mutes). Some of them even pretend to be deaf-mutes themselves, but watch them long enough and you will see them talking together as they go about their lucrative ‘business’.

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