Ask Steve Berger, who just returned from Paris.
We were approached by women who claimed that they just found a gold ring and had no need for it. Would we be willing to buy it for a few euros?
The rings looked like a man’s gold wedding band, with “18K” stamped on the inside. The ring looked very authentic, but was most assuredly a fake.
She was willing to take 10 euros for the ring. I refused.
Smart move. But the scammers didn’t like it.
I got a French “greeting” that I did not understand along with a sticking out of her tongue — which I did understand.
Word to the wise.
This scam isn’t new. It was covered in a blog post about Paris scams a few years ago.
It starts like this: as you’re walking along the street, someone approaches you and asks, “Excuse me, did you drop this gold ring?” When you say, no, that’s not mine, the person then tries to foist the ring on you, saying it must be worth a lot of money.
Since he or she is in the country illegally, the person can’t possible sell the ring, but you as a respectable tourist should have no problem. Can you just give him or a her a little money (not even the value of the ring)? Of course, in reality the ring is worthless.
Be on the lookout for this scam in the Jardin des Tuileries and the Champs de Mars, near the Eiffel Tower.
What other scams await you once you’ve arrived?
To get an idea, just have a look at some of these stories from Rick Steves’ site. From pickpockets to ID scams, travelers are being preyed on the moment they step off the plane.
Here’s my favorite, from a traveler who boarded a train from Sorrento from Naples in June.
Two middle-aged Italian men were blocking the doorway and shouting at someone apparently seated in that section. We had our suitcases and wanted to get past them to a seat — we tried to squeeze past — they suddenly got off as the train was about to leave.
And as soon as we sat down, my husband checked the pocket of his shorts … wallet was gone. Train pulled out and we were stuck for an hour while they apparently tried to use his Visa card within about 5 minutes.
Luckily they didn’t have the P.I.N. so it didn’t work.
My best advice against becoming a victim of one of these scams is not to look like a tourist and to avoid the “touristy” sections of a big city.
But I’m interested in your stories and advice. Have you ever fallen for a tourist scam? How do you avoid becoming a target?
(Photo: Balou lumix/Flickr Creative Commons)