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.”

Related articles

Latest Newham Stories

Yesterday, 12:49

A man is fighting for his life after he was stabbed in Forest Gate this morning.

Yesterday, 12:00

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Recorder readers this week.


Throughout this autumn and winter, the south meadow area of West Ham Park, which is managed by the City of London Corporation, is being re-landscaped with funding from the GLA’s Community Grant Scheme.

United Kingdom
Saturday, December 15, 2018

First-half goals from Snodgrass and Antonio settle matters for Hammers

Saturday, December 15, 2018

The 48-year-old discussed the 4-0 victory over Beaconsfield Town and the future of top goalscorer Macauley Bonne

Dan Happe
Saturday, December 15, 2018

FA Trophy first round: Leyton Orient 4 Beaconsfield Town 0

Dean Brill
Saturday, December 15, 2018

London Lions earned the capital bragging rights in their first-ever meeting with London City Royals at the Copper Box Arena on Friday.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Wondering what the weather has in store for us this weekend? Watch our Met Office video forecast.

Met Office


Have you spent time as an unpaid carer? If you are over the age of 25 and living in Newham, the Working for Carers scheme can help you take the first steps back to employment.

Hanson Fernandes’ journey began in 2015 when he arrived in London from Goa, India.

Newsletter Sign Up

Newham Recorder twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read news

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Education Promo

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Newham Recorder
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now