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Foreign Ministry warns of scams, theft in U.K. as Olympics nears

2012/07/05 16:58:59

Taipei, July 5 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged Taiwanese visitors to the United Kingdom Thursday to beware of scams and theft following a reported recent increase in the number of such cases as the approaching London Olympics brings additional tourists to the city.

The ministry has received reports of Taiwanese travelers in the U.K. getting scammed by people pretending to be local plain-clothes police.

The fraudsters persuade them to take out their wallets under the pretext of demanding to check their identity, whereupon they steal the cash and run away, said Yaser Cheng, deputy director-general of the ministry's Department of European Affairs.

"We advise people to stay alert in public areas" if they are visiting the U.K. during the Olympics, Cheng said at a news briefing.

British plain-clothes police seldom question foreign tourists or stop people on the street to demand identification, Cheng pointed out.

If asked to do so, Taiwanese nationals can first demand proof from their accosters that they are indeed police officers, he added.

Cheng also noted that the ministry receives reports every week of theft from elsewhere in Europe.

Meanwhile, the ministry also urged Taiwanese young people seeking employment in the U.K. during the Olympics, to be held July 27-Aug. 12, to be aware of work-related scams, as the U.K. media has recently been warning job-seekers of potential scams.

A program that took effect in January allows 1,000 Taiwanese young adults to travel to the U.K. on working holidays that allow them to live, study or work there for a maximum duration of 24 months.

Currently, the U.K. and Germany are the only European countries with which Taiwan has working holiday agreements, although a similar pact is being negotiated with France.

"We're working hard to push for the agreement," he said, adding that the ministry is hopeful that it will be signed by the end of the year.

(By Elaine Hou)