The “Excuse me, is this your ring?” scam may not be new, but I’ve had three people in one day try it on me (I was in a very fashionable shopping district of the 16th arrondissement, too, not in a touristy area).
It works like this: someone walks near you on the sidewalk and appears to pick up a (rather ugly) gold (or probably brass) ring off the ground and ask if you’ve dropped it. Of course you say no, but while you’re looking at it they ask if you’d like to buy it. Wide berth, folks. Watch for wandering fingers.
This actually happened to me last year during a tour in St-Germain-des-Prés, but in a slightly different way. A woman pretended to find the ring (same exact ugly ring, I might add) on the ground near me and when I said it wasn’t mine she insisted I take it. Then she said it was her birthday and asked if I had any spare change so she could get a sandwich and coffee. I was in a good mood and gave her a euro. She asked for more, the cheeky monkey!
Anyway, be careful, and don’t be shy about just saying no and walking away. All big cities have pick-pockets and scammers trying to get your dough. They don’t need the money to eat (there are soup kitchens all over town for every meal — I volunteer at one and there are always leftovers), so don’t let the sob stories lure you in or you may find yourself without a wallet.