CCTV released by Westminster Council shows the moment an innocent shopper is targeted by a fraudster on Oxford Street.
A gang member can be seen bending down to pick up a ring - but in this case the target gets away without falling for it, after a warning from a council binman.
The Head of Westminster’s Neighbourhood Crime Reduction Service Mick Smith said:
“The swindle works by fraudsters dropping a gold coloured ring next to an unsuspecting passer-by.
“They then ‘spot’ the ring and make a big show of picking it up, asking their mark if it is theirs.
“When the person says no, they offer to sell it to them for anything up to £20 usually claiming they need money for food.
“Often they will point to a fake hallmark – which we suspect they have put in themselves.
“Obviously when the person goes to get it valued they discover that it is worthless.
“It is impossible to know how many times they have already carried this out.
“But the fact that one nearby jewellery shop alone says they have seen around 50 people in the space of a week gives you some idea as to the scale of it.”
Shoppers on Oxford Street are being warned about a new scam, being used to con them out of their money.
It involves women - normally members of Romanian gangs - fooling people into handing over cash in exchange for worthless metal rings.
Westminster Council wardens say the scam has now become so common they are dealing with several incidents a day.