Attenzione pickpocket! Meet Amine: The chaotic 22-year-old student adored by TikTok
He told The Tab about getting famous and his life in Paris
Ever since a woman (@cittadininondistratti2) in Venice decided to scream a rallying cry of warning each time she saw a thief take a tourist’s wallet out of their pocket or purse on the streets of Italy, all you hear every few videos while scrolling TikTok is the eternal phrase: “Attenzione pickpocket!”- Now an astronomically viral sound.
One man at the helm of spreading the internet’s latest inside joke is Amine Ouadrhiri: a 22-year-old Moroccan business and economics student living and studying in Paris— whose videos are definitely all over your For You Page. Sidling up to strangers, Amine is all about pranking people: “Where’s the Eiffel Tower?” he asks them (next to it). “Attenzione pickpocket!” he yells accusingly as innocent passersby panic. And the world loves it.
With 971k followers and 90million likes – Amine is now almost too famous to prank Paris, with his victims often responding “Wait, no I know you from TikTok!!”. But despite being suddenly so instantly recognisable, little is actually known about TikTok’s purest, silliest, star. So, we sat down with Amine to chat:
‘I watched Emily in Paris and moved here’
It’s fair to say Paris is Amine’s city now but he hasn’t always lived there. “I was born and raised in Morocco,” he says. “I moved to France three years ago. I was in the South of France for five months and then watched Emily in Paris and moved here. Thank God. I got famous for Paris, it’s kind of my town now,” he adds – pointing out his videos popped off last September when he started asking friends to record him randomly on the streets of France.
“I’ve been making TikToks since like Musically,” he says. “But I wasn’t blowing up. I was posting outfit checks.It was cute. And then in September I was walking down the street with my friend and I handed her my phone and said ‘can you record me?’. So, she did and I uploaded the video. It got two million views and everybody in the comments was saying ‘do it again. do it again’ so, I did and got 30 million views. That’s how it started.”
After Amine started to consistently get millions of likes on his videos he just kept going. His favourite prank right now is approaching strangers and shouting “Attenzione pickpocket!”. “The original video [posted by @cittadininondistratti2] was hilarious to me,” he says. “And now it’s just become a thing.”
To approach strangers like Amine does, it seems he needs a certain amount of confidence. Something he picked up from his family: “My mum has always been so supportive of me,” he says, adding: “Me and my older cousin were raised in the same house. She was the most confident human being I’ve ever seen in my life. So, she was kind of my idol. I see her as a role model and I got confidence from her and my family because they were super supportive.”
‘When I get a role in a big movie, I’ll quit TikTok’
Despite blowing up on TikTok consistently for the past ten months, Amine is still in his second year studying for a business and economics degree in Paris. “I should have taken a gap year to focus on TikTok but I haven’t,” he says. “I would have gone so far on TikTok but I gave all my time to my studies and it’s stressful to handle both of them because making my videos isn’t easy. I’m not just a pretty face that gets millions of views.
“I have to go down the street, make funny videos, talk to people, some people don’t like being recorded, some people aren’t funny, some people get bothered by it, some of the videos haven’t recorded— it takes a long time to make a ten second video. It can be 15 seconds or two hours. It’s so tiring. Trust me.”
But when I ask Amine how much longer he sees himself doing TikTok, he doesn’t seem to be quitting anytime soon: “I question myself this every day,” he says. “I feel like if I got a role in a big movie I will quit TikTok. When the girls are getting booked, the girls are leaving TikTok, you know? But, for the moment, that’s what I do.”
‘When you think about life too much it drains you’
What radiates out of Amine’s videos and keeps his followers (and the TikTok algorithm) coming back for more is his unflinching sense of fun. He’s artfully unserious. “I’m not like this all the time,” he admits, adding (like most people) he’s had mental health battles in the past. “But life is not serious [and] when you think about life too much it drains you. It takes away your happiness,” he says. “You should not overthink. Just live and go with it.”
When I ask if he has any advice to his ever mounting number of fans “stay freaky,” is the first response. “No honestly,” he laughs, “I’d say to everyone, surround yourself with the best energy. Be so picky with who you hang out with. If you know you have good energy and you’re so pure and genuine, protect it because some people in this world, they’re evil. Who you surround yourself with, it’s like an energy thing going on.”