Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Public Service Announcement: Tourists to Paris! Beware the gold ring scam
So I was walking through the Tuileries this morning, on my daily consitutional stroll, when I saw a couple of tourists looking quizzically at a woman who had just handed them a gold ring.
What I knew, and they clearly didn't, was that they were about to be ripped off. They were about to be taken for a ride, scammed, cheated out of money. And so, donning my good samaritan hat (because I hate to see tourists in Paris being taken advantage of), I intervened and informed them they were about to fall victim to one of the most popular tourist scams currently infecting Paris.
And so it occurred to me to blog about it, in the event it saves any tourists currently in the City of Light - or any planning a vacation here soon - from being ripped off.
The scam goes something like this.
You will be walking along the street/through the gardens, engrossed in the beauty of your Parisian surroundings, when out of the corner of your eye, you spy a person bend down and pick something up. That person will make a loud exclamation, indicating how "surprised" they are. They will then approach you, holding up a gold ring, and ask if it belongs to you. You will say no and they will continue to feign surprise before insisting you take the ring. They will then ask for a sum of money - presumably in return for the gold ring they found, but have magnanimously handed over to you. A gold ring which, coincidentally, is a piece of polished plastic.
Now, I don't really understand how or why this scam would work. Why would people take a ring that wasn't theirs and then hand money over to the stranger that found it? It doesn't make sense. But given the number of times I have seen it unfolding on the Paris streets (especially in high-traffic tourist areas) it's a scam that obviously does work.
Tell your family, tell your friends. Tell anyone planning a trip to Paris to beware the gold ring scam...