French police on Friday arrested three people accused of leading unsuspecting tourists to play a rigged shell game at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, a police source told AFP.
The two men and a woman, from Romania, were arrested in the north-eastern suburbs of Paris, in Seine-Saint-Denis, following an investigation lasting several months.
Police seized more than 16,000 euros (nearly $17,000) in cash, three luxury cars, foreign currency and money transfer slips, the source said.
They suspect the three tourists of tricking tourists into betting on a shell game – where the victim tries to guess which cup is hiding a ball – with the promise of winning large sums of money if successful.
The tourist is attracted by fake players and never wins.
“The entry ticket was 50 euros and each table could earn up to 1,000 euros per hour,” the source said.
The investigation by the illegal immigration cell of the Paris police headquarters began in October 2021.
Investigators identified around 40 fake players and spotters involved at half a dozen tables, the source added. All were from Romania.
In recent weeks, the French police have carried out several operations to fight against scams or irregular street vendors, as tourists again flock to the City of Light with the easing of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Eiffel Tower is one of the most famous buildings in the world and welcomes some seven million visitors a year.