Last Sunday I posted photos on Facebook of a scam that takes place on pont des Arts, as well as at other locations in Paris where tourists congregate. Today I will provide a more detailed explanation about how it works.
Young people, pretending to be deaf and dumb, get the attention of passersby by waving a pen and a petition. Once eye contact is made, the solicitor shows the petition. (See photo, below.) The petition is a sheet of paper with the heading “Association des Sourds et Muets” (Association of the Deaf and Dumb), an association that does not exist. The sheet has space for the name of the person who signs, the country, and the amount of money that the signer will contribute. Names and amounts are already filled in, presumably by other passersby. The amounts range from 5€ to 20€. Thus, it is evident that the solicitor wants the passerby to contribute amounts in this price range.
In once case, I saw the solicitor, a young man, insistently making gestures, trying to get a woman to give up some money. She was assertive, though, and made a sign of refusal. She then continued on her way.
As the French would say, “A bon entendeur, salut !” (A word to the wise is enough.)
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