Shell Game: How It Works
(with explanatory video below) The shell game has existed since at least the 90s, all over the world, but people still lose money over it. Scammers set up on street sidewalks, especially in high tourist areas (Las Vegas, New York, Barcelona, Eastern Europe, etc). The game requires three shells (lids, bottle caps, plastic cups, etc), and a small object, usually a soft round ball, about the size of a pea. It can be played on any flat surface.
Watch the video below to see in action the Shell Game Scam exposed:
The operator of the game (the scammer) begins by placing the pea under one of the shells, then quickly shuffles the shells around. When he is done, he tells the audience to bet under which shell is the little ball. The operator has a couple of partners in the audience, so they will act as tourists, betting on the game.
After a few winning hands from the audience (his partners), it seems pretty easy to spot where the pea is going to be – that’s when real tourists get involved. They start betting little amounts and they win.
Feeling that they could handle more and see themselves winning big, the travelers increase their bets. When they are finally hooked and confident they are winning, victims bet hundreds of dollars – and that’s when they lose.
The scammer waits for this moment to palm the pea and lifts the shell chosen by the tourist, revealing the losing hand.
Sometimes, the game is played with three cards instead of shells. The three cards faced upside down, are two tens and a queen, and the audience is invited to guess which one is the queen. When pulling the scam, the crook is just too fast for the gambler, while somebody else distracts him for a second.
Shell Game: How To Avoid
Don’t think you can win. These crooks are fast and do this a hundred times a day – you’ll never win.
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