The Gold Ring Scam, Paris
Paris is no better or worse than any other large city when it comes to pickpockets and scams, they do exist so don't make yourself a target. Keep an eye on your valuables when riding the metro and if you are standing, keep a hand on your wallet/purse. Don't leave your purse on the floor or on the back of a chair at a restaurant. I'm always shocked to see men walking around with their wallets in their back pockets, even I could lift a wallet from there! Or women with their purses wide open on the metro. Opinions vary on money belts, I personally have never used one, other people swear by them.
My only time actually seeing a pickpocket in action was on the Paris Metro, they distracted the guy right by telling him his shoe was untied right before the train stopped, they jumped out just before it took off again and after they had grabbed his wallet.
Scams evolve and change but some of them involve spilling mustard or ketchup on someone and lifting their wallet while they are distracted, having someone fake passing out and then stealing their wallet while trying to help. The gold ring scam where someone "finds" a gold ring on the sidewalk and tries to sell it to you, it's plastic junk of course. The petition signing scam where kids pretend to be deaf and have you sign a petition, the best I can figure is that they then try to solicit a donation for their cause. The tie a string around your wrist scam which they then try to extract money for. If something looks suspicious, it probably is, just keep walking and don't be afraid to tell them to scram in a clear, loud voice.
Before travelling to Paris on our honeymoon I read a few tips on virtual tourist and glad that I did. On our first day after arriving the coach company we travelled with had taken us on a panoramic sightseeing tour of Paris.. Then they dropped us off at arc de triomphe having only been of the coach for two minutes as I was taking photos of the arc my husband was walking behind me and I heard him say something I turned round and a man was showing him a ring .. I knew what was going to happen .. My husband held his hand out to take the ring .. I shouted at him not to.. He looked at me as though I had gone mad .. This man was trying to get my husband to take it .. I shouted no again . My husband came over and I explained what it was about,, again it happened near the river seine but my husband was ready for it this time . . The rest of our honeymoon went fairly well and I felt safe enough until we got to the sacre coeur there was about 12 of these men on the steps up ready with their bits of string to try put on your fingers I made sure my husband held one hand and the other was in my pocket.. (one unfortunate lady had a man tying one of these bands to her already) on the way back down there was men selling bags but these men were not as pushy as the ones right at the bottom.. By the time we got back down there was double the men we had to squeeze through them.. Paris is a beautiful place to visit and if you keep your wits about you , you will be fine.. Thank you virtual tourist for all the tips !!
The seasoned traveller will see right through this one, but it's worth documenting for new travellers.
There are the usual crowds outside the entrance to the Musee d'Orsay. A gypsy (long flowing black hair, very tanned face) seems to have picked up a dropped gold ring. She hands it to you, is it yours? Nope you say. I sell it to you for moneys, she says, You English?
You check the ring, looks gold, fake hallmark on the inside, very heavy and if you didn't know better..... while you are looking and distracted, her accomplice picks your pocket.
I was with KShezz (Kirsty) at that time, took the ring to the security guard, he explained the scam, lady disappeared. Nope we weren't robbed, nope we didn't fall for it and yep she lost her ring.
Just be extremely careful of anyone who asks you for anything who isn't obviously a tourist like yourself. If you have to consult your map, back up against a wall to do it or nip into a cafe or shop. Thieves sometimes follow you for hours or have accomplices all over the city with which they keep contact via mobile phone. Good luck.
Someone warned me before the trip, so I know there would be these "new" kind of cheats. They might not be new in Paris, but I haven´t seen those in other towns. Someone ask you "Is this ring yours, "did you drop your ring" or similar. Actually it was allmost funny, when you knew to be carefull. They seemed so stupid drying to get us close. And they did allways have golden rings (yellow gold) when we only have silver or white gold, so we couldn´t ever think the rigst to be ours ;)
I´m not actually sure, how would they take your money, but I knew that´s what they are up to. So we allways just walked faster and not taked to them.
Well, what can I say about this? I say it is a scam, but have not seen it fully played out; so I can only surmise what is the outcome of the story.
Walking around the streets, we were accosted several times at different locations and by different people - who seemingly found a very expensive looking gold ring at our feet just as we passed the spot.
There seems to be no argument from these people - the quickly pick up the ring, hold it out to you and ask if you dropped it?
I can only think that if you say yes; they would expect a reward for being lucky enough to find it and returning it to the owner. If you say no, but show an interest in it - you may have to start to engage in bargaining to reach a price for keeping the ring.
I suppose it could be some promotional activity, but I have not seen anything advertised to suggest this! During my last visit to Paris, I was approached 4 seperate times by 4 seperate people. Sadly there seems to be no logic to this scam.
We just spent two wonderful weeks in Paris. The French could have not been nicer to us. I speak French and had wonderful conversations with everyone I approached. My husband doesn't, and said that people were very helpful and made every effort to communicate, sometimes with comical results.
We prepared for the pickpockets before we left the US. I sewed hidden second pockets on the inside of my husband's and my slacks, which were not visible from the outside. We took safety pins and pinned these pockets closed when we traveled. In these pockets we carried credit cards, most cash, health insurance cards, and passports. My husband put a old wallet with one dollar in it in his back pocket as bait, and some pickpocket got it before we got to our first destination. In order to access our valuables, we had to reach inside of our slacks and unpin the hidden pockets. We were in Europe a total of five weeks and lost nothing except the one dollar my husband planted for a pickpocket. In Paris at major tourist sites, like the Jardin des Tuileries, we were approached by a well dressed young woman trying to give us a gold ring she thought we had dropped. A French woman rode up to us on her bike and yelled that this ring woman was a pickpocket and had been out there for years. We encountered several other ring women in our two weeks stay. There are also Romanian children under 18 in small groups, who approach you with what appears to be a survey on a clip board. Their goal is get side by side with you and as you read the survey and sign it, their little hands are emptying your pockets. We got so we could recognize them at a distance. A good way to discourage them is to yell Non or Degage. We did not chose to transport our luggage by metro, thereby avoiding any possible problems at train stations. I myself live near Washington, DC, and have been pick pocketed twice in DC. There are gangs of pickpockets in the national monuments on the mall in DC and in the train station too. By all means visit Paris or wherever you wish; just stay alert to your surroundings.
Every tourist knows about the "gold ring" scam but the scamers keep trying... - scamer picks up a "gold" wedding band from the sidewalk (that they placed there), then offers it to you at a bargain. It's worthless sure but a very realistic "gold" ring it is too although perhaps too big...
They are prety annoying but after a couple times we noticed - scammers properly react on any language swearing-words and go away.... But they could be aggressive when noticed you are going to take a picture of them.
Just keep your hand on your wallet.
They are everywhere: we met them all the time, near each museum (Louvre, The Musee d'Orsay ).
Also watch out for pickpockets on the Eiffel tower and Metro.
I have been walking and taking pictures in Paris for 10 years now and never had a serious problem. But even if I am French and generally do not look like a tourist, I have seen quite a few things:
Guys near the Louvre, especially at the entrance of the Jardins des Tuileries ask you to sign a document against land mines. Once you have signed, they ask you for money for a non-profit organisation (that probably does not exist). If you wish to give, ask for a receipt!
While shooting, I have been approached by two guys looking like gypsies. One of them told me his friend was american (he was obviously not) and needed help setting up his tiny camera. I suspected those two were aiming at MY camera and told them I could not help.
I have also had the golden ring scam, but told the guy I knew the trick and he did not insist.
On a Summer evening as I was shooting near the bridge of Arts, I was approached by a guy who was already badly drunk (at 8pm !) and apparently wanted to discuss photography. 99% of the people having a picnic in Summer near the bridges or on the quays are not a problem, but you may find some groups of tramps in some places.
I think this one has become quite well-known, but someone did try it on us, so here it is. While sat on a bench by the Seine, someone pretended to find a 'gold' ring on the floor near us. He asked us if we'd dropped it, and struck up a conversation. He actually gave us the ring, and was telling us over and over again how lucky it was. We weren't interested, and he actually eventually walked off, leaving us with the ring, but quickly came back and wanted money. We just made him take the ring back, but it was quite irritating. Best thing to do is, as always, just ignore anyone trying to pull this sort of trick.
I always read the warnings or danger pages for any location I am traveling to from you good people here at Virtual Tourist. Up until now none of the scams I've read about have happened to me until now. My wife and I were walking toward the Alexander Bridge in Paris when a young man ineptly palmed a ring right on the sidewalk in front of me. Fully warned about this dodge I waved the guy off and didn't even give him a chance to start his sob story or whatever which is the same tactic I use for telephone solicitors. Just don't give them a chance to get started. They then can spend their time on some more promising prospect. Funny thing was that later that day while waiting in line to get into the D'Orsay museum we struck up a conversation with another couple and they showed me the ring they bought off of one of these crooks. It's so fake I can't believe anyone would fall for this scam. They said they felt sorry for the person who pulled this on them. I didn't go into the fact that this is the guys job and he is probably working for others who make a killing off of kind hearted fools like them and encouraging this sort of criminal behavior to boot. I did tell them they fell for one of the most practiced tricks in the book and it had been pulled on us to no avail.
Recent visit to Paris and although the city is beautiful, I will never return due to how unsafe I felt there. It was meant to be my honeymoon, and what I imagined as the city of romance was far from it.
The following occured to us whilst there:
1) Gypsies: often dressed in normal day to day clothing, some you see with more expensive clothes. They will often be sat sitting in the middle of the pavement with a cup in their hand, or asking if you speak english and showing you a sob story of how their 10 sisters, 6 husbands and 3 dogs are all starving on some street somewhere and how you are the only one that can help. After about 15 times of this in one week, I just told them where to go. They also haunt the restaurants, mainly the fast food places, they will come in and shove a hand in front of your face demanding money.
2) Deaf & Dumb Gypsies: Gypsies coming up to you with a clipboard with a fake sponsership form on and pointing at their mouth and ears, pretending they can't hear and talk. Their plan was foiled later when I saw them all arguing amongst themselves - speaking and hearing clearly....
3) The old ring trick: Both me and my husband thought it odd at the time; wandering around we were encounted by yet another gypsie claiming to have found a ring and that it was our lucky day as she was allergic to gold, she gave us the ring and walked off, soon to come after us again to ask for money. We gave her the ring and said if she needed money to sell the ring, of course, she didn't want to do that.
4) Parisian Beggars: Often in the metro, they will want money from you and often also have a major sob story ready. They will follow you on to the metro, and some even have cards printed in French and English with their sob story on, they give them to the passengers, give it a minute, and then go round with their hand out.
I would say to everyone, see Paris at least once for the city, but I didn't feel safe there even with my husband beside me. Specifically at tourist traps, be aware, watch out for pickpockets because they are certainly going to be watching you.
If you are walking you are likely to be confronted by a beggar walking towards you. Just before he reaches you he will stoop and 'find' a gold ring on the pavement. The ring looks like gold, it has a hallmark on the inside but the weight is all wrong. The finder will claim that they must give any find like this away but will accept a small "donation" in return. Happened three times to me on one street alongside the Seine and close to the tower.
Let's be careful out there!
Last May as I was walking down the Tulleries in Paris a young man aproached me with what appeared to be a golden ring in his hand, said something in french and gave it to me. I took the ring and threw it on a nearby pond. This young fellow started screaming while I calmly just said the words "Voulez vous mourir ce soir?". It worked like magic making him disapear. I did this because I was alerted on this site to the fact that they do this types of things in Paris
Earlier I had been in Rome, and I was hoping to have an encounter with the baby-gipsy trick, where a gipsy woman throws a baby in yours arms while she goes through your pockets. I was really hoping for this because I was ready to let the gipsy-baby fall to the ground. One less thief in this world!
In Napoli, Italy, a pick-pocket tried to get to my wallet and all he got was an elbow to his throat and few words in spanish that I cannot repeat on this site. Pick-pocketers are the most cowards of criminals.
Usually the police knows who they are but allow them to "work" anyways, usually for a small fee at the end of the day.
Pick pockets all over Paris.
Me, my wife and 12 year old daughter on vacation.
At Champs D'lysee a man in a red tea shirt picks up a gold ring.
Shows us that it does not fit him (ring too small).
Offers us and gives us the ring and walks away.
I am always on guard but this time I got sucked in.
BUT NOT MY WIFE !
My wife noticed the accomplise, a woman just behind the man.
They were coming to us to probably pick pocket me.
I left the rind on the street and low and behold the man comes and gets it.
We then see the two of them try this over and over again around the Champs D'lysee.
On vacation you are leaving your guard down BUT BEWARE OF PICK POCKETS they are all over Paris just waiting for you.
I decided to write this warning since someone just posted about this scam in the Paris Forum. Watch out for people who stoop down and pick up a "gold" ring off the sidewalk and then "sell" it to you claiming that they are of a religion that does not allow them to wear jewelrey. I fell for it for 3 euro but the other guy fell for 6 euros so I am sort of ahead. Just say no and walk away and keep walking. A local saw them try this on me the second time and yelled at them to go away. I didn't even get a chance to say no.
I was back in Paris June/July 2009 and a few people tried this on me again so I guess it is still a working scam. I just said no and kept walking. One particularly aggressive woman kept following me and pestering me to buy it so I finally yelled at her to leave me alone and she took off.