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East Ham pedestrians targeted by street scam but police powerless to stop

PUBLISHED: 18:28 02 October 2017

Alleged perpetrators encouraging members of the public to play the shell 'game' in High Street North, East Ham. Picture: Clive Power

Alleged perpetrators encouraging members of the public to play the shell 'game' in High Street North, East Ham. Picture: Clive Power

Clive Power

Police are being thwarted by gangs running a street scam in East Ham despite MP Stephen Timms raising concerns.

Pedestrians in High Street North have been parting with £20 at a time in a gambling ruse known as the shell game.

Played since Ancient Greek times, the swindle involves a small ball being shifted between one of three identical containers with players having to guess where it ends up.

Small groups have been operating up and down the high street for several months, often outside WH Smith and across the road from KFC.

There are fears that the criminals involved are using fake players who ‘win’ to hoodwink unsuspecting people.

East Ham MP Stephen Timms has written to Newham’s borough commander, Ade Adelekan, and Newham Council on behalf of several worried constituents.

A spokesman for the police’s Safer Neighbourhood Team said it was proving difficult to prosecute those involved.

He said: “The groups are organised, in that they have many spotters and can quickly disperse on seeing police.

“We do work with the local authority who monitor the high street via CCTV and on seeing the groups notify police.

“We have conducted some plain clothes patrols, but unfortunately no street gambling took place.”

Clive Power, a communications consultant who visits the area to shop, said he had seen the games played frequently.

He said: “I am surprised that Newham Council with all its CCTV coverage has not clamped down on all this illegal activity.”

Responding, a council spokeswoman said: “The problem of illegal street gambling in the borough is a matter for the local police, however council officers are aware of the issue and have been lending support, with our CCTV team monitoring, and passing on information to the police.

“Tackling this problem requires significant police resources, as these criminal gangs are extremely well organised.”

Cllr Forhad Hussain, cabinet member for crime and anti-social behaviour, said the illegal gambling was “run by criminals to rip off the unwary”.

He said: “These ‘games’ are a scam. You may as well stand in the high street and set fire to your money.”

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3 comments

  • They have been doing this for years, every time they see an officer or here a siren they pack up and leave. They will be in group off six, two to play the game others to keep watch out. If they see CCTV pointing at their direction as normal the pack up n leave. The police have know this for years and yet Newham council are doing nothing about it.

    Report this comment

    David Owen

    Tuesday, October 3, 2017

  • Not really "poor woman", just someone motivated by greed: in this world you don't get something for nothing, I'm afraid! I can't believe that people are so naive as to think anything going on - in the high road and on the pavement - is kosher....

    Report this comment

    Lewis King

    Tuesday, October 3, 2017

  • I have seen such gangs many times over the past few years. Never partook myself as I knew it was a scam. Last time I saw one was few weeks ago. They make it seem it is so easy to win, hence I saw many people depart with £40 each time. This poor woman who was watching thought she'll make some quick bucks ... went to cash machine and came back with a wad of £20 notes ... the man switched the boxes around ... she saw the ball under 1 of the boxes and put her foot on it, thinking she's securing her money, 'this one this one' she said with a smile on her face and handing over the man £80 pounds to get double back .... poor woman was astonished to see the ball somehow disappeared from under that box and she lost her £80 pounds ☹, realising it must be a scam, she walked away £80 poorer

    Report this comment

    Mr Musi

    Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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