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Pick pocketed, by an old scam

My husband and I were on cloud nine, after coming down from the Eiffel Tower . It had sparkled while we were up there and we had a great time! We were walking on a parallel street, it was quiet and a heavy set 60ish woman was walking just ahead of us. She bent down and said "what is this? It says 18?" It was a man's gold ring, very thick. She said "here, look!" I looked and inside the ring was inscribed 18 k and also, faintly 925. I showed my husband and told him 925, she said "no, it's 18k. " she then went on to explain it is such a shame, as her religion prevents her from wearing jewelry, that it was no use to her, and asked if we wanted it. My husband said sure, I'll give you 10 E. She said great and gave him the ring, and said "thank you" and gave me a big hug. I looked at the ring. The 925 was gone! The ring was identical, but had been switched! I showed my husband, he had seen it to, and he took the ring , ran after her and demanded the Euro back, and said he would call the police. She gave it back and hurried away. It was only after we got back to the hotel that I realized she had picked my 4day museum pass (unused and undated) from the outer flap of my purse! I should be glad I pulled away from her unexpected hug or maybe she would have more. Thank you for advising on the waist under clothes security belt too, which I had on as well. The worst thing is I had seen almost this exact scam on YouTube, but didn't realize it when it was happening! She seemed so nice, and elderly!

Posted by
8293 posts

Well. It seems you thought you were getting an 18K gold ring for 10 euro. She probably would have been happy with 5 euro.

Posted by
20565 posts

A cheap lesson. It can happen to anyone. Glad it wasn't worse. See what actual experience is doing for you and how well you will be prepared for your next trip. (read your other posting)

Posted by
2760 posts

And she gets to enjoy 4 free days of museums visits.

Posted by
7 posts

The ring was marked 925 which means silver, and 18k so we thought it was gold plated silver, and thought 10 E was a fair price. I worked in jewelry in the states, so I knew it wasn't solid gold.

Posted by
1451 posts

She seemed so nice, and elderly! - "A wolf in sheep's clothing"

Paula, it's a shame you got "taken" by that woman. Thanks for sharing your experience to help others who may be new to travel as well as a reminder to others. In any situation like that - being approached by people selling this or that, finding this or that or trying to get you to sign a petition for this or that - the best thing for people to do is to walk away. Yes, easier said than done when not in the direct line of fire.

Posted by
7606 posts

Thanks so much for letting us know about your experience! This is one that people read about but as you indicated it's still a bit of a surprise when it actually happens.

I'm glad you got away with "just" losing 62€. I know it seems like a large amount but no comparison with having lost debit/credit/cash or documents. I'm so glad you had on your money back though!

Posted by
255 posts

I don't understand. You payed someone for a ring the had just "found" lying on the street? Why?

Posted by
5017 posts

Folks...when someone pulls the "found gold ring" scam on you (in any of its many variations), here's what you do:

  1. They hold the ring up and exclaim, "look!"
  2. You take it from them in your hand, and examine it slowly and very carefully.
  3. You shout out loudly, "YES! You're right, it IS mine! Thank you so much!!!"
  4. Then, quickly slip the ring in your pocket, immediately spin around, and walk away briskly.

What are they going to do - call a cop?

Posted by
12084 posts

I know I was confronted with the gold ring scam at least once. If there were other times in Paris, I most likely wasn't aware it, or too oblivious or stupid to recognize it. That one time I was across the street from the D'Orsay Museum waiting for light to change along with others. This kid shows me the gold ring and says something. I responded by giving him the proverbial Gallic shrug. In the end he walked away. It was obvious he was pissed...tant pis.

Seeing other tourists accosted by scammers, I am surprised at the polite response these tourists, including Americans, give to them.

Posted by
11389 posts

I do not let anyone( strangers ) get in my “ bubble “ . This prevents pickpocketing - they can’t get what they can’t reach .

I have only had that old scam tried on me once - 11 years ago, I was walking down a street in Paris and a well dressed ( business casual ) younger woman ( about 35) approached my 11 year old daughter and I , ( yeah she actually tryed to throw the ring down in FRONT of us and then ask us if we
Lost it!!!) . I burst out laughing and my CHILD said “
Look mom the ring scam “ lol ( I told her about all the scams etc so she would understand why when travelling I ignore strangers more than we would do at home )

Posted by
3904 posts

I'm also curious as to why you would buy something that apparently was lost by someone else, wouldn't the reasonable thing to do would be to tell the woman to hand it in to the police or offer to do so yourself?

Posted by
7 posts

To me, knowing the 925 meant silver, it seemed to be of little value, and nothing the police would take interest in. We felt like we were helping an elderly lady, "who had no use for a ring, my religion prevents me from wearing it." She showed her hands and neck, none had jewelry. She had slowly moved in closer as she spoke to us and when my husband offered 10 e, it was as much to get rid of her. Neither of us wanted the ring. The hug was a complete surprise, she was so close and it was such a surprise, that there was little I could do but put my hand on my purse and back away. Live and learn I guess.

Posted by
7 posts

To me, knowing the 925 meant silver, it seemed to be of little value, and nothing the police would take interest in. We felt like we were helping an elderly lady, "who had no use for a ring, my religion prevents me from wearing it." She showed her hands and neck, none had jewelry. She had slowly moved in closer as she spoke to us and when my husband offered 10 e, it was as much to get rid of her. Neither of us wanted the ring. The hug was a complete surprise, she was so close and it was such a surprise, that there was little I could do but put my hand on my purse and back away. Live and learn I guess.

Posted by
3117 posts

I'm also curious as to why you would buy something that apparently was
lost by someone else, wouldn't the reasonable thing to do would be to
tell the woman to hand it in to the police or offer to do so yourself?

That was my initial reaction too. That the woman was "nice and elderly" makes me wonder why you didn't wonder why such a nice and elderly woman would offer you something that wasn't hers in the first place.

It could have been worse but I would have been furious if someone had gotten my 4 day museum pass. I was seated on a bench on the quai by the ET when 2 young women (early 20s) approached me to sign a petition. I shook my head no. They approached a mother and daughter also seated on that bench. They agreed to sign and then were asked for a 20€ "donation" each. They said no and were berated by these women to the point that the mother and daughter walked away.

Posted by
20565 posts

I don't think there is any point in questioning motivation. We all do things that in hindsight could have been handled much better. This reinforces the idea that the ring drop (coin drop in a different recent posting) is alive and well. And the best of intentions are not always rewarded. In our situation the pass would have been in a zipper pockets and my wife no longer carries a purse. It took many years and trips to break that habit.

And it is also possible, but maybe not likely, that the pass could be lost elsewhere. I remember once thinking that I had lost a money clip with about 75 euro. I mean the pickpocket was good. Didn't remember anyone being that close to me, didn't remember any distraction. The bus and the metro were crowed but we try to be very alert but still it was gone. Kicking myself for being careless. Returned to the hotel room that evening and the money clip was in the middle of the bed. Assumed the maid found the money clip on the floor and put it in the middle of the bed after she had made it. I did leave her a nice tip.

Posted by
15566 posts

Ah, the Ring Scam, heard about it previously, mainly from this site. First time in Paris was just wife and I, staying in the 10th, but never encountered it in a 5 day stay. 6 months later, we were there on a group trip and they tried it on us twice in one day. First was on Rue du Faubourg Sainte Honore where all the high end designer shops are. The second was on Quai Anatole France on our way to the Orsay Museum. Both times, our reaction was the same, burst out laughing and keep walking.

Relating this to other members of our group the next morning at breakfast, a guy showed me his new fat gold ring. "You didn't fall for that did you?"

"Here is what happened. She insisted that it must be mine as she put it on my finger and it fit perfectly. Then she wanted a finders fee, starting at 50 EUR. I said no, you can have it back, but then I faked that I could not get it off my finger. I gave her a 2 EUR coin in my pocket, but she squawked that I was cheating her. When I suggested we find a policeman to settle it, she disappeared."

Next morning, I saw that it was no longer on his finger and asked him about it. "I had to take it off. My finger was turning green."