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    Posted September 29, 2012 by
    Paris, France

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    Gold Ring Ladies and Hakuna Matada Men of Paris


    Travelers heading to Paris, France will no doubt encounter the “Gold Ring Ladies” and the “Hakuna Matada Men”. My daughter and I were in Paris from September 19 – 26th and had the opportunity to meet both of these.


    We encountered the Gold Ring Lady on the Pont des Arts Bridge, also known as the Locks of Love bridge. I knew it was a scam as I encountered this type of scammer 2 years ago when in Paris. This time as soon as she approached us holding a gold ring, I immediately said NO and kept walking. Numerous days, my daughter and I sat and relaxed on a bench on this bridge. We had the opportunity to watch the Gold Ring Ladies in action. This is what we observed.
    -Gold Ring Lady (GRL) walks near someone (who looks like a tourist).
    -GRL bends down and comes up holding a gold colored wedding band.
    -GRL tells the person near her that she just found this ring. She tries to get the person to take it. She stands in front of the person so that they can’t proceed to walk forward unless going around her. She continues with dialogue about not being able to keep it, can’t wear jewelry, nice ring, etc.
    -GRL wants the person to give her money for the ring that she just found so she can buy food. She is very persistent.
    -If the person says no and walks off, GRL walks around a little bit, waiting for that person to be out of site, then does the routine again with someone else. If the person actually takes the ring and gives her money, once they are out of site, she does the routine again with someone else.


    The GRL saw that I was watching her do this a few times. She made eye contact with me, scrunched up her face a bit and then continued on with her scam.


    We encountered the Hakuna Matada Men after visiting the Sacre’-Coeur Basilica. My daughter and I walked down the steps to the street below the Basilica. As soon as we emerged into the area where the carousel is we were approached by 3 men who stopped us. One of them was holding a string with a loop in it and wanted my daughter’s finger to put the looped string on it. He actually grabbed my daughter’s hand to get her finger. He was being nice, but very persistent. Her finger now had a looped string on it, another man took my finger and did the same thing. We were very unsure what they were doing. They asked where we were from and made conversation with us telling us they were from Africa. All the while they were twisting the threads making a strand of various colors looped together. They kept saying Hakuna Matada and we would have good luck. They then wrapped these around our wrist making a bracelet. Of course, they then wanted Euros for the bracelets they just made us. I gave the one man 10 Euros for the two bracelets, but he wanted more. He wanted 10 Euros a piece. I would not give him more as we didn’t agree to pay them anything. He accepted the 10 Euros. We found them a bit intimidating.


    2 days later we visited Sacre’-Coeur again and sure enough when we got to the bottom of the steps 3 men approached us again. We were prepared this time and before they could say anything to us, we said “Hakuna Matada” as we kept walking and did not stop. They tried to get us to stop but we were firm. When they tried to grab our hands we put them up and kept walking briskly.


    Patti Johnston
    Photos taken September 19 – 26, 2012


    These photos taken at Pont des Arts Bridge, also known as Locks of Love Bridge and Sacre-Coeur Basilica, the two areas where we encountered these scammers.

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