World Cup Ticket Monkey Business

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Fakes of Everything Everywhere

Paris:- Saturday, 30. May 1998:- Some bright radio France-Info sparks were reading classified ads last week when they tumbled on one offering to buy tickets to the World Cup matches.

So they immediately hooked up a tape-recorder to their telephone and called a number, probably in Marseille. France-Info played the resulting conversation for its listeners. It went something like this:

Jean-Jacques Fana: "I'm calling about the ad you had in the paper, offering to buy World Cup tickets."

Marie Ripoffique: "Yes, what sort of ticket do you wish to sell?"

Jean-Jacques Fana: "It's for the final, in the Stade de France. I paid 2900 francs for it."

Marie Ripoffique: "Oh, I'll just check our database..." - pause - "...Yes, sir; we can offer you 1500 francs for it."

Jean-Jacques Fana: "What? That's less than I paid for it! What's the deal?"

Marie Ripoffique: "I'm sorry; not 1500 francs. I meant 13,500 francs."

Jean-Jacques Fana: "In cash?"

Marie Ripoffique: "Yes, of course, right away. The buyer will bring the cash with him."

Jean-Jacques Fana: 'Is this legal?"

Marie Ripoffique: "Yes, of course."

After this, 'Jean-Jacques Fana' gives the young lady a lecture about the 'rules' of the World Cup ticket trade - as dictated by the CFO - which involves the nominative tickets - that they cannot be sold to anybody except the CFO - not even to your uncle - and so on, just like the details of the usual software license 'agreement.'

You can buy the tickets or the software, but you never 'own' them. Presumably the young lady sees the error of her ways and immediately leaves the World Cup ticket-hustle business to enter a convent.

But maybe not. Le Parisien has a report about a travel agency which is an 'official' CFO-sanctioned ticket dealer; one that has decided that's its top tickets can have a curiously familiar price of 15,700 francs. "Just our normal 30 percent mark-up," an agency spokesman told Le Parisien.

Fear of Fakes

This is about the 'Euro' - our new all-in-one currency-to-come - but it applies to World Cup tickets as well.

Every couple of weeks, TV-news produces a new report to amaze viewers and it is usually about a 'new' model of 'Euro' currency notes. It is always pointed out in every direction, that the newcafe floor notes are counterfeit-proof - because they contain some magical unreproducible herbs or other wonder stuff.

The last time this was done, no sooner had they shown us the new notes on TV, than somebody 'disappeared' their magic hologram. Right! The one thing impossible to copy. They're not even printing the notes yet, and their protection has been ripped off. Oh, they are looking under cabinets and desks, but they think its gone.

The last time I did a counterfeit story it was something similar. The Bank of France was about to bring out new 200 franc notes, and they were a big fake-proof deal being waved all over the TV-news. Then Italian cops ran over a shop near Naples two days later and captured mint film and plates for the new notes - well before the real notes were on the streets in France.

So what do you think I thought earlier today when M-R shows up in a tizzy and sticks these one and two-'Euro' coins in front of one of my eyes?

"Look," she says, "They're giving change in Euros at the supermarket!"

On the reverse side of the two Euro coin I read, 'Ville de Marly-le-Roi.'

"I don't know how much they're worth," she goes on breathlessly, "I got change for a 100 francs and they 'rounded it off' with these 'Euro' coins."

Well, if they had 'France-something' on the reverse they might be worth about six francs thirty or forty; but it looks to me like the Ville de Marly-le-Roi is beating the counterfeiters to the punch.

Actually, it's a 'promo' for the 'Euro.' These pieces of shiny metal really are coined by the official mint, but the ones given out in Issy say Ville de Issy-les-Moulineaux on the reverse side - also this weekend. The supermarket chain Leclerc has been putting up all its prices in francs and Eurosmarly's euros for some time now and there was a similar thing on some posters all over Paris last week.

M-R's brand-new 'Euro' coins, freshly minted for Marly-le-Roi.
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