Friday 12 October 2012

Friday Street Vignette

Some of you may have noticed that I have not been around  much this week, such is the mistress of capitalism forcing me, err, onto the streets of London this week at the behest of my employers.

Even this harsh labour is not without its fun moments though. One of my favourite at the moment is enjoying the sheer number of Romanian and other East European scam artists who are trying it on. Now this is of course illegal, and the picture to the ledft here, courtesy of this article, shows The streets re teeming with these types and in a way I quite like them, given I know what they are doing it's kind of like playing a 15 second role in a Derren Brown show.

Yesterday I had a new one tried on me as I was walking down Holborn not far from Hatton Gardens. 10 yards in front of me a man looks down and picks up a gold ring - a man's wedding band a bit like the one in the picture below. He starts looking at it and weighing it in the palm of his hand.

As I walk past I casually remark, "good spot!",

As I do so he turns to me and says he is just a tourist and has not need of it and offers it to me for free (at this point the penny drops for me, so to speak).

"Ahh, How kind I say - but really it is of no use to me"

"Take it for your family" he says.

I push it back into his hand, but he give it to me.

"Fine then, thanks" I say as I move to walk away.

"How about some money for my lunch?" he says.

"No cash I am afraid"

"Well, cash machine then" he points vaguely over the road. Now at this point I do consider if he is likely to get too shirty or violent, but it seems unlikely given his size and the busy street we are in.

"Really, have it back, if you need some money go over to Hatton Gardens with it"

"No" he implores "You must take it."#

"I have to go" and with that I turn and walk away. As I do I see the puzzled look on his face. Clearly no one has actually walked yet with the ring whilst not handing over a decent sum of cash - his face is quite a picture.

Anyway, that is a first for me, the 'ringer'  - any other stories like this? I have a few more and I can't believe its just me who keeps bumping into these street conmen.


Kynon said...

Sort of interesting to read that one, as I had someone try that exact same scam on me the last time I was in Paris! I just pushed it back into his hand & did the "no parlez francais/no speekee eenglish/or any other language you try to use on me" thing & walked off.

Bill Quango MP said...

Saw some eastern European types fitting a screen over an ATM in Wembley high street.
The odd thing was there was a crowd stood around waiting. One of the 'installers' had a high viz vest and was saying in poor English..will be fixed soon. None of them were dressed like they'd come from any kind of reputable firm.
Then the leader said all ready now ..and the group of people began using the machine. I recognised one man from the bakers and said .."I think that may me a scam. They've just stuck that screen on."
"yes", he said, "But I need to get some money out."

And I've had the bloke dressed as a scout leader come up to me at Waterloo. Pretending he hasn't any money to meet the scout troop or get home or something. Luckily my old boss had already told me how he had been scammed by a scout master on his first visit to London some 10 years earlier.

Anonymous said...

I accidentally foiled one of these just by being dumb. It was in New Orleans and the con is for some kid to say "I bet I know where you got your shoes". If you take the bet they say "You got your shoes on your feet, on Bourbon Street". I was very unstreetwise and didn't really pick it as a con, but haggled so long over the details of the bet - "So you'll name the exact town where I purchased my footwear" etc. - that he gave up in disgust.

Anonymous said...

I got caught by the ring trick in Paris, on my first day, while sitting next to the Seine taking in the view. Nobody else around on that side of the street. I couldn't get rid of the chap, but I was carrying 2 wallets, so I gave him all the money I had out of the emptier one: something like EU 2.77, all in bits. He didn't look happy, but he didn't press the point, and slunk off.

I was kicking myself afterwards. EU 2.77 seems like a lot of money to give away to a beggar. But next thing I did was try to buy a croissant, and it was something like EU 2.50. So that was some small consolation: in Paris terms, I'd only given him about 25p.

Demetrius said...

I have cultivated the ability to have staring eyes, showing teeth and a twitch as well as the ability to ask nonsensical questions. It works, but you have to switch back to normal when meeting friends etc.

Electro-Kevin said...

Yes. I have seen a really good scam involving these people:

Coming to our small and fairly remote town and having the nerve to sell The Big Issue.

This is everywhere now and gives some indication of the full extent of mass immigration.

How exciting and colourful it all is. Let's hope the ATMs and the food doesn't ever run out. I doubt it'll be cheeky little scams then.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

I never ever ever get these people approaching me. My missus says it is because I look very sinister if I am not smiling so they go for what appear to be easier pickings. Thanks to a nasty traffic accident in my youth and a rugby injury (once upon a time I dwelled in the murkier regions of the front row), I have what looks like a duelling scar down one side of my face about 3" long, and another 2" scar running diagonally below my eye on the other cheek.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

btw - I am not looking for sympathy! I actually like it. Combined with my Glaswegian accent (I have to consciously over-egg it a bit, living for a few decades in England has toned it down a lot) it can be very useful in moments of, ahem, social difficulty.

asquith said...

Do you have the ring in your posession now, and have you had its worth assessed? It seems this gent was sorry to part with it, I'm curious as to whether it actually has any value.

No such thing has ever happened to me. I've encountered people from across the globe at work and on the streets and the worst I've ever got is a woman in the Polish shop not having a good enough command of English to be able to explain to me what the deserts were, thus obliging me to choose something at random (it was really good).

andrew said...

Never been caught on the street because you sort of expect that.

I walked into an apple shop with my laptop and there was a very nice person who told me to make an appointment and i did and then came back later in the afternoon. I sat with Luke who was very nice and he sympathised with me a lot and checked it and told me I needed a new battery, which I proceeded to buy.

There is no paper receipt - it is emailed to me - so neat!

I got back to the office and read the receipt - £110 for a battery.
I was robbed.

Nick Drew said...

I doubt it'll be cheeky little scams then

too right Kev, here in Dublin (which is a couple of turns of the screw further down than we've reached yet) the scam is simple: if you even break step to figure out what the East European stooge is saying, 2 accomplices rush you from an alleyway and hit out with hammers

Raedwald said...

they've moved on a bit since the days when they used to jump out at junctions and squeegee your windscreen.

The 'bird shit' distraction scam involves one Romanian clandestinely squirting a small blob of mixed condiments on your coat; another helpful fellow pedestrian then notices it and produces a hankie to help get it off, while skilfully removing your wallet

A mate whose Barbour was decorated in this way pushed the helping hands away with the explanation that being shat on by a bird was considered lucky in England.

Blue Eyes said...

I never get approached by these "types" and I reckon it's because they can tell that I've been to far hardier cities in Vietnam and Latin America. Even chuggers tend to give me a wide berth.

On the other hand I get asked for directions ALL the time.

Anonymous said...

I rather upset an itinerant in Glasgow Central station (a few years back). They held out their hand with some coins and asked for 30p for a coffee. I put a 50p in their hand, and scooped out the other coins as 'change'. Help ma boab!

Steven_L said...

Some of the slightly more sophisticated ones I've seen include:

Getting a live in housekeeping job at a backpackers hostel then using it as a drug dealing conduit.

Scrimping by in London on a bar job for 6 months then quitting, claiming housing benefit, and going on the game. (Perhaps jumping to conclusions that the various guys who came to pick her up from the hostel weren't just her Dad's friends).

Spending a couple of years getting by as a waitress whilst learning English informally, then tapping the UK for a free higher education, student loans etc.

Marrying an ugly middle aged Scotsman with a cushy public sector job. (Seems popular with filipinos and the environmental health officers up here).

Electro-Kevin said...

The Big Issue scam involves the 'worker' registering as 'self employed' thus getting a National Insurance number and access to benefits etc.

The government cannot control the welfare bill until it controlls mass immigration.

Not unless we are to see true poverty in this country again through a race to the bottom on wages.

Where do people find a decent wage if their welfare is cut and the jobs have already been taken ?

They don't.

They either need to beg, steal or work cash-in-hand below minimum wage.

idle said...

Last week twice within 2 minutes in Mayfair separate Asian men dressed in suits got eye contact with me and told me I had 'a lucky face'.

I was so pleased to be informed of this, I beamed beningly upon them and lengthened my stride towards my club.

People in my office tell me that if you stop they take a piece of paper out of their pocket and try to get your attention on it whilst an accomplice steals your trousers, or something.

Electro-Kevin said...

Idle - I'm the one needing new troos after that !

Dan H. said...

And the motto is: always keep a Zimbabwean 100 trillion dollar note handy for giving to morons!