Safety Scouts Advice

photo3Safety Scouts Advice

What is it? Safety Scouts Advice is a series of free, short, animated videos, aimed at preventing crime and fraud, with each episode explaining or advising against a specific scam. Most scams are surprisingly simple and relatively easy to avoid, so the best way to detect them is to learn about them before someone tries one on you.
Initial episodes focused on scams in Paris, but based on viewer feedback, the series has expanded to include common scams in other countries. Episodes are published weekly on the series’ YouTube Channel, and are also shared via Facebook, Twitter and Blogger. Inspiration for the videos comes from both personal experience and viewer feedback. The series is produced in English, and certain episodes have been subtitled in French, Italian, German, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and Romanian by volunteers.

Here is an example that I find very interesting as it happened to an English friend in Montmartre! She had no idea!

The target audience is any traveler visiting another country. Even though the videos are published primarily in English, Safety Scouts viewers come from all over the world. In the first three months of existence, our YouTube channel has garnered 28,000 views, all through word-of-mouth networking. 14% of the viewers are from France and almost 4% are from the USA.

Our opinion : The animation is done really well. The videos are simple, short and efficient. It is extremely useful for tourists, not just in Paris but everywhere in the world. It’s important that the information reaches as many people as possible as everyday many people are victims of such scams. It’s great to see that it’s a team of volunteers who aim to encourage safe and respectful travel, no matter the destination. We highly recommend you check out the youtube channel!

Who is behind Safety Scouts? Safety Scouts is written, created and produced on a 100% volunteer basis. Any auxiliary expenses are paid for out-of-pocket by its founder, Christophe Gadenne. The wonderful volunteer community is made up of safety experts, translators and seasoned travelers.

photo1When, where and how did you first come across FUSAC?
I think I came across FUSAC in 2008 at the American Church of Paris, when I was looking for places to practice my English in Paris.  I thought it was a great concept for both Parisians and internationals.

Why did you create Safety Scouts? How did you come up with the idea?
I created this series because as a former police officer in Paris, I came into contact with many tourists after they had been victims of scammers, and when you meet new people having their trip ruined on an almost daily basis, you really want to do something to stop it. Plus often these tourists were asking if we could do something to warn more visitors before they arrive in Paris, so that eventually gave me the idea to use the international power of Youtube in order to warn more travelers before they arrive.

Have you ever been victim of a scam?
Yes I have been a victim of several scams, which explains why I felt for all the victims I met. When I was a student, I fell for the “Cancelled credit card scam” in Paris, and I still remember how I felt both angry and ashamed at the same time. Then when I started to work as a police officer, I was exposed to the huge variety of scams, directly from the victims. Now that I know all the tricks, I’ve never been a victim again in Paris. But when I travel somewhere else, I lose my local advantage, and I become the easy prey! I’ve been victim of several scams in Egypt and Thailand: the “Taxi Overcharge”, the “Closed Tourist site scam”, The “Unsolicited Taxi Stop” (one of the most frustrating….) and others that will be addressed in future episodes!

If our readers are interested in Safety Scouts – how can they volunteer?
They can help us make these scams disappear!  Linguists can help by translating the subtitles into more languages, local Police Officers and experienced travelers can send us scam reports and recommendations for future episodes, and bloggers can use the videos to illustrate posts on the safe travel, in order to warn as many people as possible. Preventing scams takes lots of energy: even if 99% of travelers know all the travel scams, the 1% who don’t know are still enough to feed the scammers. According to the UN, there are more than 1 billion international travelers each year, so reaching them all requires a lot of effort!

Your English is excellent – where did you learn how to speak English?
My English is far from excellent, but I’m surrounded by native English speakers (family, friends, volunteers) who help me! Each episode goes through a creation and verification process in order to make it as useful and understandable as possible. The voiceover is recorded by a British native, in order to make it easy to understand by foreigners (a lot of our viewers are from Asia).

What is the most satisfying thing about creating Safety Scouts?
The number one satisfaction is the feeling of creating something useful. For years now, I have been warning my family and friends of all scams I encountered, because I wanted to be sure it would not happen to them. Now thanks to this project, it’s easier to reach more people, and I also like the fact that videos will still live on in the future, and maybe warn future travelers who are only kids today!   For example, I’m glad to know that my niece will watch these videos before traveling abroad, so I can be assured she is not going to fall victim of scammers. Another great reward is the thank you messages I receive. They are a huge source of satisfaction, and that’s why I keep making more episodes!

What is your favorite occupation other than work?
My favorite occupation, that I don’t do often, is hiking and camping in the wilderness! Something else I really enjoy and that is easier to do every week, is to go rollerblading in Paris.

What proves you are French?
In France, you need the French Nationality in order to enroll in the Police, because it’s a “royal function” (fonction régalienne). Also I have a French Accent 🙂

What is your motto in life?
My motto in life was given to me by my best friend in South Korea, who worked with me on a volunteer project in the Grand Canyon back in 2004: “Promise to help and respect people!” It’s very simple but I love that promise that we both made more than 10 years ago.

What are you most proud of?
I’m very proud of having such a varied background in a country that insists on conforming. Not many French people have worked both in the movie industry and the police force, especially when you know how much personal investment is required to get in. I’m glad to have found a way to make my past experiences useful!

How do you use the social networks Twitter, Facebook?
I knew almost nothing about social networks before this project, I just wanted to produce the series and post it online. Then my fellow volunteers convinced me it was necessary to start pages on all social media, so people could watch and follow the series on multiple platforms (the videos are open and embeddable). I’m glad I did it because it’s thanks to social media that we reached almost 30 000 viewers in the first 3 months alone. I also recently posted some episodes on Youku.com, the Chinese Youtube, in order to reach more Chinese travelers, because, along with the Japanese and the Koreans, they are especially targeted when they visit Paris.

What is your next project?
This project plus my regular work takes up most of my time!   But I have received some very interesting suggestions from my viewers, and I hope to develop one of those ideas into a future project that will also encourage safe tourism.

photo2

Find out more about Safety Scouts on youtube, facebook, twitter, blog