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Be super aware of a new way of pickpockets while in Köln Messe Koelnmesse Train Station!!!!

There're a group of 5 nasty pickpockets. All are young adults. They'd not Only took all of your money, would also used all of your credit cards just to dig more out of you!!
Me and my friend were in a hurry to catch our train. While we were on the escalator going up to the platform, it suddenly stopped. We were so pissed cuz then we had to carry those heavy luggages. Then there were about 5 men came up passing though me and my friend. I didn't notice a thing until I got on the train few hrs later. I recalled those men stared at me weirdly after I got to the platform waiting for the train.
So I called the banks to stop all my credit cards payments as soon as I got home, but it was too late because those bastards had already used my cards made many small transaction payments (they're sneaky avoiding large amount all at once cuz then my banks would inform me right away) though DB BAHN AUTOMATEN a type of ticket purchase machines. My friend told me they'd return tickets to the station counter asking for cash refund after purchases.
There're ppl complained for the same pickpockets problem, and it still goes on even after a year. That only means the local authority/police department ignores such thing so they've sharpened up their pickpocket skill. You're really on your own!!

Posted by
5288 posts

Sorry to hear about your problems. Pickpockets seem to find you when you have your hands full with bags, or are in a rush.
It won't do you any good this time, but for anyone else reading this, here are a few suggestions on how to limit the damages:
* carry the bulk of cash and cards in a secure location -- money belt / pouch worn under clothing
* have a list of credit card numbers and phone numbers for reporting lost cards while you are still on your trip
* set the alerts on your cards to email you on EVERY international charge

Posted by
4805 posts

I would not consider this new unfortunately, but rather a version of the most effective method; teams working to bump and distract while one does the job.

They probably had one person hit the emergency stop on the escalator, then they barged through while you were distracted figuring out what was going on.

Same method works at the door of the subway car, the person in front of you stops short, you bump and stop, the rest of them in back of you bump and grab. Same thing anywhere there is a constriction in the flow (doorways to a museum or other popular building, crowded street, etc.)

Posted by
6 posts

The fact that's also surprise me is that they even dare using stolen credit cards purchasing good. They made 5 transaction on each of my cards. I'm glad I only had 2 at the time. If I was carrying more then that, then it would be at least >triple the amount of $ that I lost.

Posted by
6033 posts

"The fact that's also surprise me is that they even dare using stolen credit cards purchasing good."

I'll assume that's why they steal them. Without a pin they can't use them to get cash so the next best thing is to make as many purchases with them as they can before they are cancelled.

Posted by
2025 posts

Unfortunately this is NOT a new method of pickpocketing, I have seen groups of youths do this trick in malls in the US. It's been mentioned here in the past.

I do not understand how you lost money. Didn't the bank remove all the fraudulent charges once they were reported?

Posted by
6 posts

"I do not understand how you lost money. Didn't the bank remove all the fraudulent charges once they were reported?"

In 30 mins after they got my cards they had finished all the transactions. By the time I noticed my wallet was gone is after that. And at the time I reported to the bank was like 6 hrs later due to I was on the train there was no internet, and I couldn't go anywhere.

Posted by
23402 posts

and then when you did get in touch with the credit card companies they reimbursed you for your losses, right?

Posted by
2025 posts

If your bank upon report of credit cards being stolen as of time "X" and that all transactions beginning that time are not yours is not immediately removing those transactions from your record and deleting the charges, then you are getting robbed by your bank. Having your pocket picked and your cards stolen is a major inconvenience, but if there is any financial loss from this it is your bank that is committing the final crime here. Now if these were debit cards, it is true that money is temporarily out of your account, and it's really bad luck that they guessed a 4 digit PIN in 3 tries (point one percent chance) so that the card was not kept by the machine. But again, the bank has to correct this.

Posted by
23402 posts

I've just noticed that this has been posted in To The West, a desupported area of the helpline. Since we changed several years ago to the Forum it is not used.

Posted by
6 posts

reply to Nigel
Well the banks put those transaction on dispute meaning that the banks may will not reimburse my lost because the transactions were made before I reported the lost. I tried to post this anywhere possible. I wasn't gonna do it if they just took my cash, but they used my credit cards and that's over my limits.

reply to Larry
The problem is all the transactions were made few hrs BEFORE I reported the lost. So there's no guarantee I'll get my $ back. And they shouldn't possibly know or guess the pin. So I don't think they even needed the pin to do this..

Posted by
11411 posts

Maybe it's different in your country , but I had 939 dollars of transactions out on my Visa card on September the 8th, online purchases I did not make . I didn't notice them till I got my bill a few days ago. My card is not charging me for them .

Posted by
2025 posts

I do not believe there is any reputable credit card bank that upon receiving your report that you have realized your card was stolen several hours (or whatever time) earlier and seeing you dispute the charges - which their records should pretty well indicate are a pattern other than yours - will leave you responsible for any of them. From our own experience, we have been subject to several instances of credit card fraud that we were made aware of well after the fact (Home Depot and Albertson's hacks, internal fraud at Wells, gas station skimmer, to name a few) and not once has there ever been a question of our having to pay any part of a fraudulent charge.

Posted by
4654 posts

MrsEB: the OP said that they hit stop on an up escalator, and then ran past people struggling with heavy luggage pickpocketing them as they passed. Which sounds fairly plausible.

Much the same thing happened on a Paris Metro escalator I was riding on about twenty years ago. I didn't get anything stolen because I was a little boy, and assumed the guys were just doing it to be "funny", but I suspect now that this was what they were doing.

Posted by
962 posts

Camilkuro --
It is common for the credit card companies to put the stolen funds "on hold" while they investigate.
This has happened to me, and I have always had the matter resolved in my favor.
So I think you might relax and hopefully enjoy the rest of your trip while you keep your money in a money belt or neck wallet hidden away.
Thanks for the alert about the stopped escalator. (One more thing for all of us to be aware of.)

Posted by
20599 posts

It is unfortunate but I do hope you have learned not to have anything important in an easily assessable pocket. And a little less luggage would probably been beneficial.

As long as the lost is reported in a timely matter, the max would be responsible for is $50. And credit card companies rarely enforce that limit. You should be ok.

Posted by
6 posts

To pat
Well I have no idea. One of my credit card is from the US. I had one incident of online fraud purchase for around 400 usd 10 years ago as well, and the bank resolved it, but this time is different not some online purchase. I hadn't noticed the illegal activity of my account until I got the bank statement, too.

To Larry
That's good to hear about your experience. However, my banks didn't put those transactions on hold as they were cleared going through already. According to the banks, it'll take at least 1 month or more to figure out whether the purchases were made by me or not.

To MsEB
I was on the escalator going up (or going down I don't think it matters). Before we headed to the escalator, there was nobody on it so it was clear infront, but there were a group of men followed us to the escalator as soon as we were on it. At the time I just thought those ppl were just like us being hurry to catch the train. And I didn't realize it was them who took my wallet until next day I read online that there are other ppl shared the same experience. Also the timing my credit cards were used all match up with the timing right after we got off of the escalator. And they even zipped up my backpack so I couldn't notice lost stuffs until much later.
The narrowness of the escalator forces ppl standing one behind each others, especially for those who has luggages. Therefore, my friend couldn't watch out for me as she was standing infront of me. I'll take good care of my wallet next time. Just a note from others experience, those gangs would also try to take your belonging (hand bag and such) while pretending as passengers in a hurry passing through.

To SharYn
Good thing you mentioned those stolen funds should be on hold. I'm gonna call my bank asking for that, because they didn't do it.

To Frank
Yes I knew I shouldn't put my wallet in the front pocket of the backpack. However, due to my sudden inattentive mistake, it was in the wrong place.
Thanks for the info about the bank by the way.

Posted by
1700 posts

I could take some time while the money spent fraudulently is on hold from your credit limit or available funds but the bank should/will refund any money they used the cards for. It does not matter they used the cards for a few hours before you reported it. At least I would hope so and if not I would most definitely be cancelling those cards and getting new ones from a more reputable bank if not.
Fraud protection is standard now days, so any cash you lost is gone but any credit card use will be the banks loss and not yours in the end.

Posted by
23402 posts

Only one of your cards was US? Were the rest from somewhere else? Most of us will know the fraud duties of institutions in North America and Europe and the UK, and some of us will know about Australia, but if you are from somewhere else the laws may be different.

I'd assumed you were North American.

Posted by
12091 posts

Of course, you are on your own. So am I. I've been on my own for 22 trips in Germany in 45 years. One is at one's most vulnerable as a target for pickpockets when one is encumbered with luggage. I don't travel with more than two pieces with the spinner less than 30 pounds.

I don't blame the police at all. There are more of them to be seen at train stations this past summer and augmented by DB security personnel (those with the yellow jackets with "Sicherheit" on the back) than in past years. I don't carry all my plastic in one place, ( tactically, a bad move) , they're dispersed in different pockets, likewise with cash. I know there are characters floating around in German train stations not previously seen, and you do recognise them.

Posted by
6 posts

reply to mreynolds
Yea I already canceled those cards few hours later. And it also sounds like one of my credit card company wouldn't refund me unless I have a police report. Another card company didn't ask any of that but may will in the future. So I reported to police and got the police report. Just in case if the banks don't refund me, then I have a proof.

reply to Nigel
I had 2 cards at the time. One is from US and another is from of course my country Taiwan. The bank from US hasn't asked me for anything yet, but the bank from Taiwan did. They want a police report to back up my saying. So I guess the laws are different since my other card isn't from any of the country you mentioned. They just want solid proof instead of mouth saying.

reply to Fred
I think the biggest problem in Europe is the train that goes everywhere, and there's no need for security or personal ID check. So anyone from other poor countries in Europe can just flee to those wealthy countries to do crimes here and there, and it's hard for the police to catch them since they're foreigners. Too bad I'm not a well experienced travler, so I learned my lesson.

Posted by
12091 posts

@ camilkuo....You may see it that way. I don't exactly share your view. In Germany as in France one is required to carry his personal ID (Personalausweis in Germany). No such requirement in the US. The police in France and Germany have the right to stop anyone in the street and asked that person to present his ID, even tourists. I myself in all 22 trips to Germany since 1971 have never been stopped in the street to present my ID, the US passport, but I've seen that done to others.

Posted by
15573 posts

Thank you for the heads-up. It all makes sense now. The thieves have identified that Koeln-Deutz Messe as rich pickings due to the many large, international trade fairs, and many well heeled foreigners not on their guard. It also seems that security at the station is lax. So you may also want to send a letter to the Messe authorities with your story. I am sure they would not want to get a reputation as being a dangerous place for fair-goers. They may provide some security in the future and that will help others.

Posted by
12091 posts

I've never used Köln Deutz station only Köln Hbf. If it is as described, I should go check it out the next time I'm in the vicinity.

Posted by
17647 posts

There are two rail lines coming together at Deutz, one going through Deutz on that side of the river, the other coming across the river from Köln Hbf. A lot of connections use an S-Bahn from the Hbf to get to an ICE going through Deutz. They are at two different levels with two different sets of platforms, and escalators between the levels.