Amsterdam’s mayor is demanding broadcaster National Geographic rectify an episode of television programme Scam City which used people pretending to be pickpockets and conmen in Amsterdam.
Speaking during a news conference on Wednesday morning, Eberhard van der Laan said the show was ‘scam television’ for paying people to pretend to be crooks. ‘The programme is a swindle, involving paid actors,’ the city’s mayor said.
If necessary, the mayor said he would resort to legal action to have the city’s good name cleared, the Parool reported.
Van der Laan first criticised the programme last week when he said National Geographic had scrapped eight planned repeats of the programme pending their investigation.
The aim of the show is to highlight the underworld of a given city and show how conmen, pickpockets and others work. The programme makers use hidden cameras to observe how they function.
The Amsterdam show focused primarily on eastern European gangs and the mayor said last week the city’s police did not recognise the picture that was painted. ‘We have done research and it showed National Geographic paid people to act as criminals,’ the mayor said.
National Geographic admitted later that people had been paid. ‘No actors were used in Scam City Amsterdam. The people who were filmed are real criminals. Some of them were, as is customary in broadcasting, compensated after the filming.’
The show’s presenter, Connor Woodman, reacted to the controversy on Twitter saying: ‘Oh come on Mr Mayor! Convicted criminals we caught on camera in the Amsterdam episode say they were only “acting”. You believe that?!!’
The show was embroiled in a similar controversy in Prague last year.