Thursday, July 16, 2009

Con Games

Cultural Enrichment News

Our Danish correspondent TB sends an account of his own personal experiences with the Roma variety of enrichment, and follows it with a recent news story:

Through the last three or four years foreign gamblers (mostly from Eastern Europe) on Strøget in central Copenhagen have been a real nuisance. They use trick games to try to con people (mostly tourists) for their hard-earned money, giving them a bad experience in Denmark (What do they care?).

In these games you do not stand a chance. If, against all odds, you win the game, they usually just rob you instead. You lose no matter what.

These trick gamblers have for the last six months to a year been supplemented by fellow countrymen who come to Denmark using the open borders and try to make a living by begging in the streets. A few months ago I noticed that many of these “beggars” apparently suffered from the same mysterious limping problem. They were all walking in the same uncomfortable manner, using a crutch to drag themselves through the streets of Copenhagen, apparently in a state of constant pain.

I forgot all about it until the other day when I went through Copenhagen Central Station. When I exited on the side of the station leading towards the “Red Light District”, I almost stumbled into a brand new Renault. One of those family sized wagons holding eight persons (or more if you do not care about the law). The license plate revealed that it was from Romania. It had a huge trailer attached to it and beside it a group of dark skinned Gypsies (my guess) were lining up.

It looked a bit weird so when I walked from the spot I kept looking over my shoulder to see what happened. Maybe a soup kitchen? And here comes the funny part: From the car a dark-haired woman appeared. She went around the trailer while partly removing the tarpaulin covering what was inside. From the trailer the woman started to distribute…
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Crutches! Yes, really!

Every one of these “beggars” was served with today’s tool, and immediately after receiving this crutch the mysterious limping problem began. The Army of Sufferers made their way into the lonely and racist streets of Denmark’s capital. Those poor souls.

Well, back to the tricksters. The police are now trying to do something about the problem. It is not easy because of all the EU-provided laws.

The article TB refers to is from the English-language version of Politiken:

Test Case — Roma Expulsion

Danish police are to run a test expulsion case on Romanian Roma street tricksters.

Copenhagen and other Danish cities have again this year been inundated with groups that police say are predominantly Romanian Roma tricksters, but authorities are unable to do much more than hand out fines.

According to the Head of the Copenhagen Inner City Local Police Squad Kim Vinholdt, however, the fines can in no way match incomes, and as the majority of those caught are from EU member state Romania they cannot be expelled unless they commit more serious crimes.

New method

But Danish police authorities have now decided to run a test case to see if tricksters can be expelled on charges of fraud.

“When we pick up tricksters we normally give them a fine for illegally using the streets for gaming. But that hasn’t been enough to have them expelled from the country. Now we will run a test case to see if we can’t get them sentenced and expelled for fraud,” Vinholdt says.

Police have previously tried to initiate a similar case but were unable to bring it to conclusion due to difficulties in finding witnesses.


“That is not a problem we have this time and with this new case we will see if we have laws that enable us to be rid of these criminal Romanians,” Vinholdt says, adding that the tricksters come to Copenhagen in groups.

“But although we have increased our focus on tricksters in Copenhagen this summer, we have found it difficult to catch them as they have lookouts posted and as soon as police officers turn up, they disappear,” he adds.

Where’s the ball?

The predominant form of trickster gaming is in getting passers-by to gamble on which of three boxes contains a ball.

“You never win these games, so we are warning people not to play,” Vinholdt says, adding that this summer so far has seen at least 50 fines meted out to Romanians.

From June 1 to July 12, police have also charged 29 Romanian citizens with pick-pocketing and shoplifting. Numbers are slightly higher than last year.

For a complete listing of previous enrichment news, see The Cultural Enrichment Archives.


thll said...

Another problem care of the EU.

Imperialistu' said...

They are NOT Romanians, they're GYPSIES - "tigani:), so please, learn the word and spare us the "Roma" BS.

spackle said...

Back in the 80s in NYC we had a similar problem with teams plying their 3 card monty scam. I would always just shake my head and laugh at all the endless suckers who would throw their money down the toilet playing these obviously rigged "games". They werent Romanian but mostly Black and Puerto Rican. The Gypsies still cornered the market on "Psychic Tarot readings" however. They set up shop in a tenement until they drive everyone nuts and then move on leaving the apartment and landlord screwed.

I also remember a similar "Crutch Trick". There was this one guy I would see everyday for years in a wheelchair begging for change with his obligatory "Vietnam Vet" sign. Then one night while leaving the subway station at Delancey street, there he was. Climbing up the stairs with his wheelchair on his back. We locked eyes and he just shot me a grin, knowing that I was onto him. He could have given two s***s.

laine said...

In Paris, it's the "golden ring" trick. On and near the bridges criss- crossing the Seine, swarthy men and women as they're approaching bend over and "find" a "golden" ring. They get up close and personal to ask you whether it's yours. Then it depends on the tourist, who's offered the ring for a small "finder's fee" and may lose some francs for a worthless ring or be pick-pocketed.

In Rome, it's bands of youths on the Spanish steps who often use newspapers to distract the unwary tourist while talking to him volubly and again relieving him of his valuables.

It's always gypsies. As they say about paranoia, what if someone is really out to get you? Well, what if a people are really thieves and are despised because of that, not racism?