Scammers attack Paris’s top cop at tourist hotspot

Even Paris’s most senior policeman isn’t immune to the 'bracelet' scammers who prey on hordes of tourists in the capital every day, it would seem. The top cop was himself recently attacked while on an official visit to observe the crooks at work in Montmartre.

Scammers attack Paris's top cop at tourist hotspot
Paris's top cop got a nasty taste of the scammers hassling tourists in his city. Photo: Fred Dufour/AFP

Bernard Boucault, Paris’s Police Commissioner, was on an official visit to observe the scammers at tourist hotspot Montmartre on Saturday with the capital’s head of public safety, Jacques Meric, when the officials were attacked.

According to French magazine Le Point, the pair, along with Boucault’s chauffeur, got out of a car at around 4pm on Louise-Michel Square at the foot of the Montmartre hill and confonted a group of “tresseurs” (or braiders), who are street hustlers that snag tourists in the notorious "bracelet scam."

To carry out that rip off crooks tie a bit of string to a passing tourist's finger or wrist and then procede to weave it into a friendship bracelet. The tourist is expected to pay up at the end or face an angry scammer.   

In this case, the attack on Boucault started after he tried to put a stop to some of the scammers working that day. They reportedly reacted with violence.

Boucault was slapped, his chauffeur punched while Meric was kicked.

There was no word on whether any of the assailants were caught or charged with a crime, but police are certainly looking for them.

The area, which probably sees a good share of Paris's 30 million visitors per year, is notorious for its street scammers, who often target tourists, both verbally and physically.

Apart from the bracelet scam “bonneteau” is also a common site in the area. It's a three-card Monte-type sleight of hand trick where the victim bets their cash that he or she can find the “money card”, a pea under a cup or a white-marked disc.

Even though it looks like easy money, the victim pretty much always loses.  

SEE ALSO – VIDEO: Top five street scams to avoid in Paris

Paris unveiled new measures earlier this summer to protect its mobs of visitors from pickpockets and muggers.

The efforts build on a security plan drawn up last year in response to a wave of crime against tourists that at one point led staff at the Louvre to go on strike to protest the mini-armies of pickpockets, many from eastern Europe, operating inside the museum.

Chinese tourists, who are estimated to spend an average of €1,300 during their holidays in France, are seen by criminals as a lucrative target as they often carry large amounts of cash.

Robbers attacked a group of Chinese visitors in March last year in a restaurant in and relieved them of €7,500 in cash, plane tickets and passports. Around one million Chinese tourists come every year to Paris, the world’s most visited city, and their numbers are expected to grow.

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How France plans to prevents youngsters accessing online pornography

France is set to announce new measures this week to prevent youngsters from accessing porn websites, in the latest round of a years-long struggle to protect children from explicit material.

How France plans to prevents youngsters accessing online pornography

“I plan to put an end to this scandal,” Digital Affairs Minister Jean-Noel Barrot told the Parisien newspaper on Monday.

France’s data protection and media regulators Cnil and Arcom are set to announce their latest proposals to rein in porn websites which are in theory subject to a 2020 law requiring age verification.

Previous attempts have been held up by privacy and technical concerns, as well as court action by the websites.

To its frustration last September, a Paris court ordered Arcom to enter into mediation with several porn websites including market leader Pornhub, holding up efforts to block them.

READ MORE: France hits Google and Facebook with huge fines over ‘cookies’

Under the new proposal, people wanting to access explicit material will need to download a phone application that provides them with a digital certificate and code, the Parisien reported.

The code will be needed to access a porn website under a system “which will work a bit like the checks from your bank when you buy something online,” Barrot told the newspaper.

“2023 will mark the end of our children accessing pornographic sites,” he added.

President Emmanuel Macron, who is married to former school teacher Brigitte Macron, promised to make protecting children from porn a priority during his bid for re-election last year.

In November, he launched the Children Online Protection Laboratory, an initiative that aims to bring together industry giants and researchers to look for ways to shield minors online.

In September last year, a report entitled “Hell Behind the Scenes” by French senators concluded that there was “massive, ordinary and toxic” viewing of porn by children.

The report found that two thirds of children aged 15 or less had seen pornographic content.

The French production industry has been roiled by a series of sexual assault cases in recent years in which women have come forward to allege rape, mistreatment and manipulation by directors and fellow actors.