in the ring

in the ring
   engaged professionally in cheating at auction
   Now used of fraudulent dealers who abstain from bidding against each other at a public auction and hold a private auction later among themselves. The use was formerly of those in a cartel of manufacturers, agreeing minimum prices. In the 19th century the term was used for stealing:
    These parties are connected with the thieves, and are what is termed 'in the ring', that is, in the ring of thieves. (Mayhew, 1862)
   See also ring2.

How not to say what you mean: A dictionary of euphemisms. . 2014.

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