July 7, 2010

The "RING TRICK" Paris...

This is for anyone who comes onto my blog to find out about this very common tourist trick- The Roms (Romanian gypsies) are famous for performing this trick on "unsuspecting" tourists.....

What they do is they throw the ring on the ground in front of you and then come up and pick it up and ask if it's yours-- Then, when you say, "No," they continue on with their story--- BLAH BLAH BLAH-- and if you DON'T want to fall for this... you ignore them or walk away... Or, if you'd like a 2 euro souvenir with a story to go along with it... You can take it from them and give them two euros-- Like what my aunt did!!!

**Note- They can usually be spotting "working" near the Seine by the Louvre, at the Jardin de Tuilleries, and Les Champs Elycees... These are areas where I have seen them...
The picture above is my aunt's 2 euro "souvenir!"

14 comments:

D. Gator said...

I can't believe a guy tried to do it to me near Saint Lazare the other day...
When I saw him picking up the ring, I started laughing ("I can't believe he's trying this on me" laugh).
He looked at me and kept on going his way as if nothing had happened...

The new scam that's going on is the "I'm deaf can you help me finance my hearing aid" scam that teenage Roms are doing near Pompidou... And they're sneaky, they even have learned some sign language... They have learned the American way of signing... In France...

Of course, it's aimed at clueless tourists (especially Americans), those who don't know that disabled people get free healthcare in France and those that don't find suspicious to see a gang of deaf teenage kids hanging out around Pompidou and speaking to each other when they're not signing to tourists...

Leesa said...

Hey D!!

Thanks for sharing your recent experience.... Wish I was there to see your expression/reaction. That happened to me at the Nature Expo on les Champs and I just ignored the guy who tried about 5 or 6 times with "Madame....."

Anyhow... I think it's pretty funny and I've wanted to mess with them buy Alex advised me against it! Oh well... My idea was to take the ring and to thank them so much for finding it... and WHY would I pay to have my own ring back..." hehe!

I haven't heard about the new "deaf" scam... but it REALLY bugs me when they have something that says "sans abri" - because they are NOT homeless and in fact, I have seen REALLY expensive cars parked within the compounds of their "camps." Granted this could have been the "head" person of their clan, but still...
Are you familiar with how it's all organized? I'd love to hear about it...
Take care and have a great day!
Leese

D. Gator said...

Leesa, you're confusing French gypsies and Roms (Romanians and Bulgarians gypsies).

French gypsies are not homeless and they have indeed expensive cars most of the time (but as they are indeed nomads, they kinda need to have good strong powerful cars).

Roms lives in slums (real and scary slums that you don't expect to see in France, just take RER B north of Paris, you'll see them. The problem with them is that they come to France with the goal of being beggars, they have no intend in leaving those slums, this is their way of life, they just want to have it in France (and Italy and Spain and most of Western Europe) because they'll make more money there than in their own country (they also have less chances to be murdered in Western Europe)...

What really annoys is that on one side, they're not trying to be part of their host culture and that tourists fall for their 19th century tricks, the human exploitation that goes with it (I suspect those guys with no feet that they have been chopped off by their "pimp" just like in India or in the Middle Ages in Europe) And at the same time, tourists don't give money to the real homeless people that really need it (because tourists are scared of them, real homeless people usually stink and are often drunk).

Leesa said...

D-- Okay, I didn't know it was the "French gypsies" who live in the endoits des voyageurs and other places.. I thought it was the roms... There were about 5 or 6 caravans parked on the street in the industrial zone hear Belle Epine and then looked like the roms to me... nothing like the French gypsies, and Alex told me their were roms... Anyhow.. they were leaching the electricity from the area... and making a mess with the trash... After about more than a year, they were able to get them out and put up some cement blocks as barriers to prevent them from parking on the street.. I thought that was a good idea, but they just go somewhere else, anyways...
I wouldn't necessarily give money to homeless people - not because they smell or are dirty, but b/c they can use the money for alcohol/drugs/cigarettes instead of food-- I'd rather give food but they sometimes don't want it- which is strange to me...
Anyhow.. I agree with what you say about the roms...They come here to continue begging and don't try to get a job or assimilate... PLUS, some of them often commit crimes like burglary and pickpocketing!!

D. Gator said...

Yes, it's the French gypsies that live in "emplacements de gens du voyage" and such, as they were designed for them. If they had cars and caravans, they had to be French gypsies. (now, there are some French Roms, French gypsies are not just one community, there are at least two: Tziganes and Roms, and maybe more).

But I'm confused, if they were leaching electricity and then got kicked out, and then the place was closed with cement blocks it was not an "emplacement de gens du voyage" then...
So maybe they were Eastern Europe Roms, I'm not sure (French gypsies never stay more than a few weeks on the same spot, spots with running water and electricity where they're allowed to stay.

Concerning not giving money to homeless people because they'll buy alcohol with it (not drugs, very few homeless people do drugs, first they can't afford it), I say "why not?" If I was homeless in Paris, I guess I'd rather be senseless drunk as often as I can rather than be with all of my mind and contemplating my situation all day long.

I don't think Eastern Europe Roms commit much crime though...
The pickpockets in Paris are rarely gypsies, the "pickpocketing gangs" in the metro are usual Bosnian teenage girls, and the only other ones I saw (in the Louvre) were "normal looking" people.
As far as burglary is concerned, French gypsies have been stigmatized for being burglars since forever and it's true that in the gypsy culture, stealing from the sedentary people was seen as an acceptable thing, but in recent years, French gypsies have been trying hard (with little success) to be accepted as normal citizens and most of them have stopped stealing.

Leesa said...

Hi D...

If you are trying to paint a "pretty" picture of the Roms, I'm not "buying it!" I'm not going to sound nice in saying this, but I don't think that coming to a country and "begging"/"stealing" is going to gain points with anyone here...
It's all over the world, not just in France, and I am against crime... and I think that it's a HUGE con game that they are playing... I don't even believe that they are really "homeless" as they try to portray as REAL HOMELESS people are... I think some of them are even "opportunists" - trying to pray on people's generosity and sympathies to get money.

I was visiting Paris for the first time in '90 and WANTED to see these people so that I could see a "real" gypsy." Well, I did-- on the metros - begging for money or sometimes playing music for money....
But, what struck me the most and what I will NEVER forget was a middle-aged woman I ran into who asked me for money for her 3 hungry children and her sick husband (who had recently had surgery and couldn't work).... I gave her some francs of what would have been equivalent to about $6US... and INSTEAD of saying- thank you... She had the nerve to ask for more!! Can you imagine how pissed I was... I took the money back from her and told her she should say thank you and be grateful that someone was trying to help!
There's a guy who sits in front of the main bakery in town... He's been around since I have been here but I hadn't seen him all winter/spring and just recently started to see him again.. He's a young/cute I don't know what kind of gypsy- but I have never given him money-- I only greet him and say hello and how are you.. He always smiles and says hi back... Once, I bought him an ice cream from the Jeff de B. that was only two stores down.. He graciously accepted the ice cream and his smile was worth a million to me...
I just don't like the fact that they try to pray on people's sympathies to beg for money and don't find a "real" job.... I know that might be a lot to expect.. But, you can't expect me (or others) to change our opinions/attitudes/perceptions about them (no matter how negative it is) if they don't start doing something for themselves and stop looking for hand outs... Doesn't work on me... Sorry!
And, I DO believe they do break-ins.. I don't think they are clear from that... I don't have anything against French gypsies/Spanish gypsies.. I also think that being a 'gypsy' is a choice and part of an old culture... way of life... but you can expect me or others to support people who refuse to work/try to get jobs and just try to leech off of others...
It's too bad that the manouche are trying to change there ways and the way people view them with little success... Change takes a longggg time! I'm glad that they have decided to stop stealing as a way of life...

In the states-- many homeless are drug users... they certainly CAN afford street drugs as crack is very cheep.. so is heroin.. I'm not talking about cocaine here-- that's an upper class drug..
Alcohol and drug abuse is VERY common among the homeless in the U.S. and it's often because of their habits that they find themselves on the street-- not in all cases...
So, I don't know if it's the same here as in the U.S. but I can see where people lose their motivation and initiative and want to remain in a constant state of stupor... A real shame... and it never finishes well...
I like the people on the metros that appear to be down on their luck and try to sell magazines about Paris.. etc... but just praying on people's good hearts in NOT really a cool thing to do...

D. Gator said...

Where am I painting a positive picture of Eastern European gypsies?

I'm just telling you that French gypsies have nothing to do with Eastern European gypsies (different people, different lifestyles, different outlook, different everything) and they have nothing to do with pickpockets...

And homelessness in the US has nothing to do with homelessness in France either...

Ron said...

Holy cow...that's WILD!

I heard from someone who frequents Europe say, that "tricks" are also prevalent in Rome too!

Mama Mia!

Thanks for sharing this very interesting bit of info, Leesa!

X

Leesa said...

D---

My husband (who is French, too - and a bit older than you)--- says that yes, the tziganes DO pickpocket AND do home burglarys (we know of this for a fact b/c it happened to our friends at Cheverny) AND they DO live in those trailers not just in slums in Paris-- I'm mostly talking about the ones you see in gypsy camps - it's not necessarily "in" a town-- so I'm NOT talking about a designated place for them-- -I'm talking about them pulling over on the side of the road in a more secluded area (most of the time) and setting up camp there--- I have passed by them while we're driving around France, and they were surely tziganes, NOT manouches... Okay, now that that is settled-- not meaning to debate your great knowledge or anything, but I know otherwise...

I suspect the the 'culture' of homelessness does indeed vary from country to country and culture to culture, but again-- my husband claims that it's true that there are homeless people in France who abuse drugs and alcohol and who also break in to homes to steal to support their drug habits...

A lot of homeless people in the U.S. are old war veterans -mostly from Vietnam.. and the gov't doesn't really take care of them.. Oh sure, we have VA hospitals especially for them... BUT, we do have many crazies from those wars-- who become homeless and who are crazy and addicted to something... think "agent orange" here and the effects it had on those people...
Like the effects the Gulf War and the War in Iraq has/had on the men/women in the military...

I no nothing about homelessness in France, but I DO know something about it in the U.S. I'm certain from a sociological standpoint that there are similarities and differences in the two....
Pickpockets-- okay so you saw the "normal" looking guy at the Louvre... and the Bosnian's - well tell me-- is this a "new" thing or has it been going on for years?? I don't think the Bosnians have been working Paris for more than 5-10 years, non?
Let me know b/c this type of thing is really fascinating to me!!!

Take care,
Leese

Leesa said...

Ron...


It actually happened to me not long after my arrival in France and I "almost" fell for it... even though I was talking to the lady in about 7 languages telling her that I DIDN"T want her ring... I finally said, OKAY, just to get her off my back and then she asked for money so I gave her the ring back! Sheesh!!!

Happens all over, I'm sure!!!

D. Gator said...

Leesa, you're doing exactly what I told you to be careful about not doing... Amalgamating French gypsies and Romanian/Bulgarian gypsies.

French gypsies (from various groups: Tsiganes, Manouches, Roms, etc, but mostly Sinti and Gitan really. the differences between the different groups being quite obscure if you're not part of one) do burglarize and pickpocket, mostly burglarize and steal cars (or what's inside the car). They have been doing it less in recent years (because of their quest for respectability) which doesn't mean they don't do it anymore. They live in caravans (I guess the correct English term is trailer), not slums, and have a nomadic lifestyle, even in the 21st Century. They don't always stay in designated areas, mostly because some communes don't have them (I don't want to get into politics here, but I have to as it's usually because of right wing mayors (UMP and such) who don't want them in their town), but keep in mind that they are nomadic they never stay in the same place more than a couple of months.


Eastern European gypsies (mostly Roms) don't really steal that much (I'm sure some do, but they're not known for that), mostly beg for money (old ladies sit near a bank or a church and cry, young girls ask you if you speak English near the Eiffel tower or pretend to be deaf near Pompidou, old men play that stupid accordion in the metro, and young men try to sell you the "homeless newspaper" here and there... They are the ones that live in slums, and almost exclusively around Paris (other big cities too probably, but they're not nomadic).


Concerning homelessness, yes, it's very different from homelessness in the US, and sure you'll always find special cases (and one can consider a drug addict living in a squat a homeless, I don't), but most of homelessness in France today (it hasn't always be the case) come from the big economic crisis of the early 90's that threw a lot of people (people like you and me, not weirdos, psycho or else) in the street, and once you're there, it's almost impossible to leave it. And after that first wave of 92-93 there have been a few more ones, France having had high unemployment ever since and having never fully recovered from it. I know that in the US there's often this equation: homeless = crazy (although, I'm sure it's part of the US collective subconscious, most Americans thinking that a normal person just cannot become a homeless, yeah, we thought that too in France before 1993), but not in France...

Concerning pickpockets, the Bosnian gangs are a new thing, indeed, but I'm talking about the situation now (yes, 30 years ago things were very different, most homeless people were in the street for non-economic reasons, pickpockets were a very different archetypes, etc, etc). And no, I cannot tell you how pickpockets were 30 years ago, pickpocketing is a very Parisian thing (not much if at all pickpocketing going on in the rest of France, on the Riviera maybe?)

Nadege said...

"Oyvey"! (about all the back and forth comments). Yes they are all over Europe and they are dangerous,
with knifes in their pockets and not afraid of using them. It happened to my nephew. French, Italian, spaniard... gypsies, ignore them. It is very sad to have to ignore anoher human being but they will suck the $$$ out of you.

Leesa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leesa said...

Leesa said...
Hi Nadege,

hehe! Yeh.. David and I go back and forth often on topics...

It's a sad state when people take to living a life of crime.. Sad... I think that's what poverty and desperation do to people...
Sad...
Take care,
Leesa