French police arrest three Eiffel Tower tourist tricksters
May 6, 2022 09:54 PM
French police arrested three people Friday accused of tricking unsuspecting tourists into playing a rigged shell game at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, a police source told AFP.
The two men and a woman, originally from Romania, were arrested in the northeastern Paris suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis following a months-long investigation.
Police seized more than 16,000 euros (almost $17,000) in cash, three luxury cars, foreign currency and money transfer slips, the source said.
They suspect the three of deceiving tourists into betting on a shell game - where the victim tries to guess which cup hides a ball - with the promise of winning significant amounts of cash if successful.
The tourist is lured in by fake players and never wins.
"The entry ticket was 50 euros and each table could earn up to 1,000 euros an hour," the source said.
The investigation led by the Paris police prefecture's illegal immigration unit began in October 2021.
Investigators identified about forty fake players and lookouts involved with half a dozen tables, the source added. All of them were from Romania.
In recent weeks, French police have conducted several operations to fight against scams or irregular street vendors, as tourists flock back to the City of Light with the easing of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Eiffel Tower is one of the world's most famous buildings and welcomes some seven million visitors a year.