Federal Police are investigating several ticket controllers who allegedly deceived and embezzled money from passengers on Berlin's S-Bahn train system.
Police said on Monday that the ticket controllers - who work for a security company hired by Deutsche Bahn transit operator - would repeatedly demand money from passengers and then take it for themselves.
The ticket collectors would specifically look out for foreign passengers who were not familiar with the local regulations. When they saw that their targets had bought the wrong ticket or had not known to stamp the tickets before boarding, the controllers would then “vehemently” demand a fine of €60 to be paid in cash, according to Spiegel.
In doing so, the controllers were ignoring rules about showing fairness towards passengers.
Tourists from inside and outside of Germany reported that they did not receive a receipt as they should have when the controllers collected the fines.
“The way the employees of the private security firm ripped people off is an absolutely socially damaging and ugly act,” said Berlin Federal Police President Thomas Striethörster.
Police advised that if travellers are ever asked to pay a fine and not given a receipt, they should call police.
Federal police were alerted to the deception by reports from travelers. The security firm has since suspended several employees, though police note that the majority of ticket controllers work in a lawful manner.
Deutsche Bahn said that it would take harsh measures against the security firm, up to the termination of their contract, according to Spiegel.
The Local has previously reported on similar accusations in Munich and Frankfurt of ticket controllers taking advantage of tourists who don't know the system.
And English couple told The Local in June that the experience had tarnished their trip in the Bavarian capital.
“You expect this kind of thing to be brilliant in Germany, with everything we associate with Germans, like efficiency,” Alexander Box said at the time.
“I think a lot of tourists are getting trapped and these people are winning off the back of it.”