CRAFTY con artists are swindling thousands of pounds out of London tourists using a scam involving three cups and a ball.
Swathes of gangs operate on Westminster Bridge and use the devious “three-cup” trick to cheat unsuspecting victims out of £50 a time.
Con artists hide a ball under one of three cups and then move the cups around swiftly before getting hopeful tourists to bet on where the ball has ended up.
Often the ball has been manipulated and removed to somewhere else.
AN ‘EVIL’ SCAM
Nick Stein, magician and scam-game expert told The BBC: “It is in fact quite an evil scam to take people’s money.”
He explained: “They will move these cups but when it comes to the time of betting, people find they have manipulated the ball to be somewhere else.
“The main problem with it is that people think that this is a harmless thing”
“And they think it might be a game or they misunderstand that maybe it’s a performance when in actual fact they are taking hundreds and hundreds of pounds at any given time.”
Secret filming by the BBC showed as many as 14 gangs at one time occupy the bridge and try to trick tourists.
The ‘magicians’ often have a number of accomplices who act as audience members to make it look more convincing.
They encourage and clap and try to entice people into betting more money.
One person said on Twitter: “I saw a young mum falling for the three cups scam on Westminster bridge today. She lost £20. Such a shame.”
In a bid to stop the criminal activity, Priest, Fr Chris Phillips made a plea to the police on Twitter, he said: “The number of illegal gaming scams on Westminster Bridge is totally out of hand. @westminstercouncil @MPSWestminster when do you plan on doing something about it? It’s not a good look for all our visitors.”
THIRTY PEOPLE ARRESTED SO FAR
The Met says it has been taking action, with 30 people arrested so far this year for involvement with gambling.
Those who were convicted were either fined, given exclusion orders, tagged or given suspended prison sentences.
In March Strand and Whitehall Police seized £650 from one scammer who was arrested on Westminster Bridge.
In a statement, the Met said: “We remind the public that these games are a con and that the person running the con always wins.”
Meanwhile, Lambeth Council said they have issued over 290 fixed-penalty notice to offenders since February 2019.
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In 2016 the council tried to pass a public spaces protection order to stop illegal gambling on Westminster Bridge but the scammers are still rife.
The full investigation will be broadcast on BBC London tonight at 18.30.
Hopeful tourists bet on where the ball is placed[/caption]
The ‘magicians’ often have a number of accomplices[/caption]