Scammers Use Three-Cup Gambling Trick to Steal from Tourists in London

  • Scammers use the public to help make the "trick" appear legitimate
  • Con artists remove the ball as the cups are moved around
  • Victims are led to think the gambling scam is a "harmless thing"
The familiar three-cup trick is being used to scam unsuspecting tourists in London.

Targeting tourists on Westminster Bridge

Con artists are taking thousands of pounds off London tourists in a gambling scam that involves a ball and three cups.

The three-cup trick is a familiar and traditional puzzle that continues to amaze and delight people who think they’ve cracked how it works. And it is this same game that the con artists are using in London to cheat unsuspecting victims out of £50 ($60) each time, reports The Sun.

Taking place on Westminster Bridge, the scammers hide a ball under one of the three cups. The cups are then moved around before a tourist is given the chance to pick the cup they think the ball is under.

However, according to Nick Stein, a magician and scam-game expert, the ball is often removed elsewhere. He believes the three-cup trick is

in fact quite an evil scam to take people’s money.”

Stein also believes the main problem with the gambling trick is, “how people view it as being a harmless thing.”

Up to 14 gangs using trick

According to footage captured by the BBC, as many as 14 gangs were on the bridge using the trick to try and con thousands of pounds out of tourists. A slow-motion video shows the ball being taken away by the scammer as the other cups are being moved around.

Westminster Council has called on the Metropolitan Police to launch an operation to move the gangs away.

The BBC notes there have been 30 arrests so far this year. In March, Strand and Whitehall Police arrested one scammer involved in the three-cup trick on Westminster Bridge, and subsequently confiscated £650 ($785).

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: “We remind the public that these games are a con and that the person running the con always wins.”

Members of the public involved

In a bid to make the “trick” appear legitimate, the scammers use people in the crowd who are in on the scam. The BBC states that it knows this is the case, as those selected from the crowd are given instructions in Romanian. Stein points out that:

When they’re clapping and they’re reacting and being encouraging, it’s one big play.”

In a step to tackle the issue, Lambert Council said they have issued more than 290 fixed-penalty notices to offenders since February 2019. Yet, while the Westminster City Council passed a public spaces protection order in 2016, con artists such as those on Westminster Bridge remain a problem.

Councillor Nickie Aiken, leader of Westminster City Council, said: “There has got to be a concerted effort from Scotland Yard because this is organized crime.”

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