Living: Stinging Innocents Abroad

Europe's thieves are after Americans with scams new and old

Shirley Merchant of Danvers, Mass., was sight seeing at the Sacre-Coeur church in Paris when a friend warned her to watch her purse. Too late. The carefully zippered compartment inside her shoulder bag had been deftly picked. "It was all gone," she says. "My cash, traveler's checks, passport and every piece of identification I had."

It is a perennial tourist nightmare, one that Karl Malden uses to sell traveler's checks on TV. Now, with a record number of bargain-hunting Americans in Europe, purse snatching, currency rip-offs and sophisticated new scams in some cities are growing as fast as the influx of...

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