The “lost ring” scam is one of the oldest and most famous of the tourist scams in Paris, as well as other parts of Europe popular with tourists. Due to its success of ripping tourists off, locals have given it a name – they call it “being ringed.” There are several versions of what many call the “Ring Trick” which always involves a gold ring or otherwise valuable looking object being left or found in plain sight. You should make sure you are aware of this scam as it is very well orchestrated by scammers who want to take advantage of you and your money.
In essence the “lost ring” or “found ring” scam, which is deeply based in distraction, works like this. A man or a woman, either young or old walks in front of you or beside you, then suddenly bends over to pick up a “lost” ring and offers it to you. The “lost ring scam” is best explained by a person who fell for this scam – this is how they reported how it happens.
“I left the store, crossed the street and noticed out of the corner of my eye that a man nearby was bending over picking up a shiny object on the sidewalk. I thought at first was a bottle cap of some other junk. I stepped almost directly over his arm as he picked up the object and I kept walking.” That’s when he spoke.
“Excusez-moi, Monsieur. Vous avez laissé votre bague ici.” He showed me a large gold wedding band. “What? No, it is not my ring, Monsieur.”“Mais oui, c’est à vous.”“Mais non. I have no ring.” “Mais oui, it is your ring. Well, if it is not then give it to your woman. It will make her happy. It is a woman’s ring.”
He hands me the ring. Indeed it is heavy. Apparently gold. “Um, no. It is not mine.” “I cannot wear it. I am a man,” he said. “Give it to your woman.” He turned and walked away. “Well, OK. Merci, Monsieur.” I turned and walked away. He turns again. “Ah, Monsieur. S’il vous plait. I am hungry. I don’t have enough money for a baguette.” “Um. OK. Take some change.” Hmm. He is honest but only needs money for a baguette. I gave him a few coins from the change still in my hand. “No, that is not enough. Just a little more. I gave you the ring.” “Well, OK, here are two euros but nothing more.” And I walked away.
Here is a photo from a surveillance camera showing the ring scam in action as the scammer targets a tourist waiting at a street corner to cross the street.
I was thinking that it was better that I have the ring rather than this roughly dressed man. At least I could return the ring and this other man would have not returned it, he would have sold it. Then I thought that if I could not find the owner then perhaps I could sell it for a few euros. But it would be a waste. Those few euros would mean nothing to me. The ring would mean a fortune of memories to the woman to whom it was given and loved the ring. The proceeds from the ring would also mean many meals to the roughly dressed man, who was frankly more honest than me. My head was spinning. It was the worst possible outcome. Everyone lost something.
I though a lot about the poor woman who lost the ring. How will I give it back? At home I wrote a little note simply stating Une bague (a ring) and my phone number. I would place this little sign near the wall and sidewalk where the ring was found. I thought that if this woman searched for her wedding band she would see the sign and understand. Certainly I would insist that she describe the ring when she called. Certainly I would not ask for a reward but if she insisted, I would accept two euros since I had given the honest man two euros. This would be my compromise so that both of us would gain. If I did not hear from anyone in six months, I would sadly sell the ring. It would have been replaced by the woman by this time. Six months was the limit I set. Six months was fair.
A day passed and then I thought, is this correct ? Is this moral ? What would someone else do ? I ‘googled’ for morality, morality test and other words seeking advice. Then somehow I ‘googled’ lost ring. Sucker !! What a fool I am.
When it comes to dealing with scammers who try to pull the “lost ring scam” on you, you need to be aware that the scammer wants to keep you engaged in a conversation , with the thought that he might wear you down so you will give him money.
If the ring is handed to you and you take possession of it, and then try to give it back to the scammer, many times you will be rebuffed, and the scammer will demand money in return for it. If you don’t pay up the scammer’s voice will get louder and more vehement in an attempt to embarrass you into giving him/her some money for it. Some victims of this scam have reported that some scammers even curse at them until they gave they some money. These crooks seem to be alone yet very often there is an accomplice or two hanging around to chime in and pressure you to pay up.