Urban Scams Series
This is the third review in a series of “Urban Scams” presented to you by Urbansome.com. “Urban Scams” will help you become extra careful and avoid falling for various frauds when travelling to different cities around the world.
Today, we will look into a popular “Pigeon Feeding Scam” in Milan, Italy.
Pigeon Feeding Scam
This scam actually comes from my personal experience. Unfortunately, I have been a victim of that a few years ago when visiting Milan. Oh, well.. You live and learn, isn’t it? Luckily, I can now share this experience with you so you can be prepared and avoid being ripped off!
Milan has always been referred to as the “capital of fashion” with many fashion shows, stylish residents and famous designers. Because of that and many other reasons (great geographical location, good food, many things to do etc.) it attracts more than 10 million tourists a year. If you have read the previous reviews in “Urban Scams” series (“Friendship Bracelet Scam” and “Cups and Ball Scam“) you can probably expect what I’m going to say next. Scammers are fully aware that people love visiting Milan.
Like most of other large cities in the world Milan has problems with their pigeon population. Unfortunately, scammers that I will tell you about in this post have made it even worse…
Let me explain.
There are many great attractions in Milan, but one of the most popular one is Duomo di Milano. This beautiful cathedral has a massive square next to it called Piazza del Duomo that thousands of tourists everyday base themselves in to take photos, have a coffee or just to sit down and relax. That is where the pigeon feeding scam starts.
As soon as you enter Piazza del Duomo you are being targeted. Before you know it, in a matter of seconds you are approached by a fraudster and your hand is full of corn. They do not ask if you want it, they just do it. Especially to women as they are less likely to object.
Literally seconds after he grabs your palm and fills it with corn you are surrounded by pigeons. Hundreds of them. They land on your arms, shoulders, feet and everywhere around you.
What normally happens is – you are so excited about these birds (we all know they are filthy, but trust me, for some reason you forget about it that moment) feeding of your palm that you do not even realise that you are being scammed.
What happens next you can probably already tell.
Similarly to “Friendship Bracelet Scam” the scammer will then ask for money for the “service” he has just provided. When he asked me, I had a few coins in my pocket and I thought that will do it. Could not have been further from truth.
As I was with my girlfriend and he did it to both of us, we were asked to give 20 euros each. I started laughing. Clearly, he did not like it… Once again, similarly to “Friendship Bracelet Scam“, he signalled his accomplices and we have realised that we are surrounded by 5 or 6 men. Unfortunately, I had to pay what he asked, otherwise we would have been mugged.
You might think: what about the police? Nope, police would not help you. Up until now, I would not be able to tell you why not…
PLEASE REMEMBER THIS: when you are entering Piazza del Duomo keep your hands in your pockets or clench your fist the moment scammer grabs your hand. Once the corn is in your palm, trust me, it is too late. And make sure to tell them “non interessato” in a firm manner.
Find this tip useful? Share it with your friends and spread the awareness. Also, have a look at popular “Cups and ball” scam on Westminster Bridge in London, UK and “Friendship Bracelet Scam” in Paris, France.