Europe France Paris Travel

A Paris Scam: The Lost Gold Ring

You’re a seasoned traveller. You have been to Paris on numerous occasions and know your way around the major streets, the métro and the arrondissements. You know how to avoid gypsies, beggars and street performers. You pride yourself on the local knowledge you have accumulated over the years.

One morning, you wake up in the city of love, step outside of your hotel in St-Germain on the way to your regular café, holding hands with your other half in a romantic daze. After all, this is Paris and today you’re celebrating your anniversary.

And then it happens.

Lost Gold Ring Scam

She matches your pace as if keeping up with the general pedestrian flow. You notice her from the corner of your eyes. Suddenly, she drops her hand to the footpath. You hear a clink and she picks up a shiny object. Your eyes meet briefly and she shows you a gold ring that she has just found. She asks if it’s yours and you shake your head. She tries it on for size and says, “Ce n’est pas le mien/It’s not mine”. She then gives it to you for good luck, un porte bonheur. For a brief second, you fall to the magic of Paris. She insists that you take the ring as she wishes you bonne chance, shakes your hand and leaves.

You stand in a bewildered daze, not believing your luck, yet smiling at the coincidence of good luck on your special day. You start to walk away. She then reappears and asks for “quelque chose pour manger/something to eat”. And that’s when your euro drops.

You have just fallen prey to the lost gold ring scam.

You offer her a couple of euros and she tells you that it can’t even buy her une coca/ a Coke. You offer another then you walk away. After all, un porte-bonheur shouldn’t come attached to a price, non?. You continue with your day and spend the rest of your trip cleverly dodging men and women performing the same routine. You shake your head and wag your finger at them, in that knowing way that says I know what you’re doing.

You decide to keep the ring, which you discover is made of brass, bien-sûr, as memento of your anniversary in Paris, that special day you paid a small price for your stupidity.


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.


  • Oh, I don’t think it is stupidity on your part at least . . . just a chance encounter with someone trying to make a buck.  And, at least you get a good story out of it.

  • this very thing happened to me when i was in Paris 2 years ago…I told her she was very lucky to find a ring,. When she tried to give it to me, i told her i did not need it and she should keep it.  She insisited, then said i should give her 5 euro ! LOOOOL..I said…  if she needed money so bad , she could sell what she just found!..and i shoved the ring back at her….I thought what a clever scam! However, not clever enough for this Jersey born gal 🙂

    • Well done! 🙂 I kept replaying it in my mind after the fact, and had we not been in a romantic trance on the day, I’m sure something would have clicked with me, particularly when she spoke French with a foreign accent. We live and learn… and write stories!

    • They’re rather canny with their approach. In this case, she was persistent but quite harmless, unlike some other scams I have encountered.

  • yep,  I often warn visiting friends of this scam and they don’t believe me that it happens…but I’ve known a couple of people who are now the proud owners of brass rings.  And, after 8 years of living in the city someone just tried to pull it on me a couple of weeks ago.  I actually was kind of excited to see it unroll in real life…but, i didn’t by the ring.
    I’m always kind of fascinated by scams around the city…there’s one involving string that takes place near my place in Montmartre…i’m not sure what they do with it, but I’ve never seen anyone look very happy once they’ve been taken by the string men!

    • Yes! I’ve seen the string scam in Paris (Trocadero) and in Milan too. They come up to people and somehow manage to get the string around their wrist. Then they demand money and hassle them until they pay. We escaped it in Milan. They were there, en masse, in front of the Duomo, picking their targets. And they weren’t very nice about it. At least, as the proud owner of the brass ring, I didn’t feel threatened. Those guys with strings looked like trouble.

    • I didn’t either before falling for it but judging from the comments and the google hits I’m getting, it’s a common scam. One I don’t mind so much that I immediately said to Mr G, “This is a story for Gourmantic!”

  • I was in Paris a few years ago and the same thing happened to us (my family and i)we took the ring but it was a young boy who gave us the ring, we took it but when he came back asking for money by dad suspected something fishy. we gave the ring back and walked away.

    the funny thing is not long after, i found one of these rings on a fountain and took it but i wasn’t approached by anyone so i kept and still have wondering if the one i have is a ligit gold ring?

    • Hi Gill – I guess you could always get it valued. the ring I ended up was made to look like gold. It had a shine and lustre which it soon lost. And it’s very light in weight, which is another way to tell it’s no gold. Funny how they react once you let on that you know it’s a scam. They look and walk in the other direction!

  • Just got scooped! … and watched it happen 3 more times to others… good laugh and a great adventure today. Got the brass ring on my thumb that my lover did not buy for me at Cartier!

    • Oh no! At least you’re having a good laugh about it! 🙂 My brass ring trophy sits on top of a tacky Eiffel Tower keyring I found on the ground near the Louvre. We can always dream of Cartier… bon voyage!

  • The lost gold ring was offered to me some weeks ago during a one day-trip to Paris. I was resting on a bench at the Arc de Triomphe and was watching the traffic when a young man crossed my view, stopped and dropped a ring. He asked me, if this was my ring. After I denied this he told me, that the ring is made of gold and showed me, that the word “Gold” is embossed in the ring, although the ring looked as being made of brass. He wanted to give it to me as a present. I rejected again and told him, that I don’t wear rings and that he should just leave the ring on the bench I was sitting on in order to enable the person who lost the ring, to retrieve it. He left without saying another word.

    I wasn’t familiar with this scam but was aware of a similar scam (people trying to give you fake/ cheap clothes (leather jackets) for free and asking for money afterwards) so I was warned not to accept presents of any kind.

    • You did very well, Gerry. I think we get caught up at times in the moment and become gullible, but it’s all part of the travel experience I guess 🙂

  • Hahaha! This happened to me Saturday near L!arc de Triomphe! She picked it up and wanted me to look at it to confirm it was gold. She tried to give it to me and I kept saying no. I thought, “she found it,she should keep it.” my husband kept saying,”no, we have to go” cause he thought it was a scam. He thought she was distracting us so someone else could pick our pocket. But I kept looking back to see what she would do with the ring. Guess he was right! Scam!

    • They’re very good actors, aren’t they… I can see why people are fooled into thinking it’s real. But in the end, you just have to laugh and treat it as a travel memory 🙂

    • Amazing! At least we can do our part and spread the word 🙂

      Edit: I tried to leave tjis comment on blog but it didn’t let me due to your security settings.

      “It’s amazing to learn that scams like this one cross the borders, or in this case, the channel. I wonder how long it will take before it reaches Australia, and whether it will be tourist-oriented. In any case, it makes an interesting blog post and a warning to others.

      Thanks for your comment on my site :)”

      • Thanks Corinne, I hadn’t realised that the ‘comments’ were turned off. Fixed now (I hope)

  • I had same instance near Galerie Lafayette in Paris hour back. In fact I was in hurry to catch RER and a lady suddenly distracted my attention with the RING. I simply took the ring and started rushing towards gate. She called me from the back asking for a coffee. when I said I have no time, she asked for some money for coffee and I dropped 2 EUROs and rushed. Later I realized there was a boy (young) with her who was towards the side of her who was standing by keeping eye. My pocket was little bulged with large wallet and this was to distract to take chance of pick pocket. But no harm done to any one and I am safe back to my hotel. Thanks to god. I am at relief that I helped the woman who was needy. Ring is on my table and I am keeping it as the souvenir from Paris with Love.

  • Just been to Paris with my wife for the first time. Although not s seasoned traveller I know about the pick pocket and the scams they employ through what I read in the news and websites. We had the gold ring scam done to us twice near the louvre. Both times we just waved them away whilst shouting conn artist very loudly. Although some people find this amusing I can’t help but feel these individuals who all come from pretty much a handful of countries are absolute scum preying on the vulnerable and those tourists their to visit a beautiful city!

  • This happened to us 3days in a row in Paris. We thought it was odd the first time, second time it was a coincidence, third time we knew it was a scam.
    Google is your friend.

    • Hi Guyw, I’m surprised this scam is still happening in Paris after all this time. I guess Google isn’t their friend 🙂