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Sometimes I feel my scepticism has caused me to miss out on some experiences, but what it has saved me from far outweighs what I’ve missed.  Last November I was in Paris, while walking across a bridge a woman called out to me, saying that I had dropped something.  I was immediately suspicious, mainly because she addressed me in English. She then presented me with what looked like a gold ring, and kept trying to push this ring onto me, I didn’t accept it despite at the time I didn’t know that this was a scam. They “find” a ring and try to pass it onto someone, usually an unsuspecting tourist, and then demand some money in exchange for finding it.  Their excuse for not keeping it varies, some they say wearing jewellery is against their religion, I was told that because the ring was “too big” for her.

It wasn’t until later that day, when two other people tried the same scam on me that I realised just what my scepticism saved me from.

It’s not just in Paris that this happens, my friends mum, while in London one day had someone try the ring scam on her, I believe it was even an identical ring to the one I was presented five times in Paris.  Her first thought was that some poor man had lost his wedding ring, (that’s what the ones I saw looked like), and was about to turn it over to the police or a ‘lost and found.’ The would be scammer then started to demand money and it was then they knew something was wrong.  They got away but I know a lot of people haven’t been so lucky.

When I looked up “ring scam” I quickly discovered hundreds of stories from people who also experienced this, many of them fell for it.  This has been going on for years, centuries in fact.  This is from “London Labour and the London Poor” by Henry Mayhew, published in1851.

“The second criminal class consists of cheats… and “flat catchers,” or ring-droppers, who cheat by pretending to find valuables in the street”

Then there’s the distraction scam, where one person distracts the victim while the other  steals from them.  These cretins tend to target the lone elderly person, and there’s been a lot of this happening throughout Canada and the US.  One of the things they do is to try to sell you some jewellery, it’s fake of course, but as they push this on you they’re taking the real jewellery off you, and are long gone before you realise you’ve been robbed.

It’s not a pleasant thought, but some scepticism will save you a lot of trouble and heartache.