Petty Impersonators

17 03 2010
Police Tape by freefotouk
Police Tape, a photo by freefotouk on Flickr.

I don’t understand how criminals can’t think of better schemes in which to perpetrate their crimes this day and age.  I mean all they have to do is google the sort of crime they want to commit and they’ll find a ton of creative ideas.  At least they can make it challenging to the general public or make people even admire their creative criminal mind.  I don’t agree to crime in any way, unfortunately I have to deal with it in my profession sporadically, I do however have a weird sense of respect to the intellect of some fraudsters who are behind elaborate fraud schemes.

Today I was stopped on a main busy road in London by an Italian tourist asking the whereabouts of Victoria Station.  He was on the other side of town and explained that he was lost  We agreed to show him where he was on his tourist map and try to get him on his way to the station.  He started small talk wanting to know if we were tourists or students.  He really wanted to establish that we are not residents of London.  It was kind of weird, so I went along and didn’t mention that I am quite familiar with London and I have been coming here since I was a tiny embryo in my mother womb.

Suddenly, two other guys come along showing their personal ID’s through a plastic card holder inside their old, dirty fake leather wallets yelling “police!”.  They were wearing cheap black leather jackets from the 80s and dirty out of style jeans.  They demanded in extremely bad English that we show them our passports.  Even an alien life form would figure out they were Italian from the way they spoke.  I wanted to grab his ID and the moment I touched it he  quickly pulled it back and said “no touch!”  Needless to say, I told him I am going to call the real police for you now so they scattered including their tourist friend.

It was comical on several levels.  Physically, we were bigger than them so I hope for their sake that the were not pondering forcefully getting some cash out of us without the use of  heavy artillery.  I’m a relatively big guy (read fat), but one of my friends is over 2 meters tall and could probably alone take all three of them.  Their appearance in no way reflects that of a policeman neither did their language.  It got even funnier when one of them started walking briskly away and saying “call police number is 142” which is not the emergency number in the UK (nor in Italy, I checked).  I mean are you trying to trick me into calling the wrong number for crying out loud! Please don’t push your insult to my intelligence to that level.  How hard it would have been to wear decent clothes, a high visibility shirt and use any weird looking card instead of your personal ID to impersonate a police officer?  At least then, it would take people 5 seconds to spot you are fake.  By that time, you could have came even closer to snatch their wallet or something during the confusion.

I didn’t call the police because the impersonators would have been gone by the time the police reached us.  I went about the rest of my day hoping that none actually falls for that lousy act.

I have later learned that some Italian football club was playing in London yesterday so maybe those guys were some of the fans that traveled to watch the game and thought maybe they could make a couple of quids while they were here.  Either way, I felt sad for them.

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4 responses

16 10 2010
His

When it comes to Europe you always need your eyes open for little scams like that. I learned form the real hustle how people can be scammed easily. Good thing you are aware of such scams.

16 10 2010
His

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18 04 2011
Fahad

Salam. I am have been studying in London the past year, and unlike you, I visited London ever since I was a toddler 🙂 Anyway, the same experience happened to me on more than one occasion, apparently because the driver forgets what I look like. This is what happens:

He is always in the area of Edgware rd and Paddington station. The car is a silver VW golf. Stops you while walking asking for either directions to a certain station or my personal favorite, how to get to heathrow airport! But that is just to establish the fact that you are a tourist and not from around the area.

As soon as that is cleared he asks where you are from. Before you answer he claims he is “Italiano!”, then he asks, “Are you Arabo?….Salam Aleikum!!”. This is the sort of ice-breaker. Then he starts asking if you would like to buy this Italian suit because he “does not require it anymore…blah blah blah”…..needless to say that from that point I just walked away while he was talking, remarking that I’m not interested.

There were a few other times the same guy stopped me again, but I would just keep walking and ignoring.

Good to know about this “police thing”….scam artists (or coxcombs!!) are everywhere, and they complain it is only in the third world countries!!

One more thing, just for safety reasons, walk away from this person on the opposite direction of the car, so that he can’t follow you while driving in reverse. You never know what might happen if you say no! و اللّه خير حافظ

18 04 2011
bofahad

I know that Italian very well. Stopped me once and I lost count of how many times he tried to stop me again. There’s also an African man, always smoking, and asking for money for food in the same area. Being on foot he is much more persistent than the Italian fellow. I usually tell him since he can afford to smoke he can afford to eat. His reply is that he “borrowed” the cigarette. Yesterday I saw him again smoking and asking for change in George street.

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