Gold Ring Con in Venice
Recently I have approached twice by people pretending to find a gold ring in the street, and then asking for money for it. Here’s how it works:
As you walk down the street a person will rapidly come toward you, and a short distance in front of you pick up a large ring laying in the street. The ring appears to be solid gold. They will ask you whether it’s yours. You of course did not drop a ring, particularly in a place where you have not walked yet. You say no, and attempt to go your way. They will follow you and try to give it to you. Your natural reaction is to refuse it, and tell them it’s their lucky day. Then they will give you some story about being allergic to gold (gold is inert, no one is allergic to it), or not liking jewelry, or some such nonsense. In the end, they will be such a pain in the ass about you keeping it that you finally give in and take it. You go your way, and they pretend to go theirs. Then they come back and demand money for it.
I don’t know whether the ring is gold or not, but I know someone who paid five Euros to the person and got the ring. Even if the ring is 14 karat gold, it would probably be worth a few hundred bucks at a pawn shop. There are no identifying marks on it, other than a very small stamp on the inside appearing to be the gold stamp. I’m guessing, though, that the ring is worthless.
So, if you travel in Italy there are a few rules to remember.
Do some research before you come as to what scams are out there, and always be suspicious of any Italian offering you any kind of assistance. Venice is safe and generally free of scam artists, other than the beggars, but you still need to use ordinary care. There are plenty of pick-pockets.
Note: There are porters in Venice near the Vaporetto stop for St. Mark’s, but they have badges and a list of fees. They are worth every penny, but make sure you know the fee in advance.