Watch out, trap!

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Television series
Original title Watch out, trap!
Country of production Germany
original language German
Year (s) 1964–2001, since 2018
length 45 minutes
First broadcast March 24, 1964 on ZDF

Watch out, trap! is a ZDF program launched by Eduard Zimmermann in 1964 , warning of the methods used by tricksters . It became a television series that ran for 37 years . The first program was broadcast on March 24, 1964 and reached over 7 million viewers, which corresponded to a share of about 60%. After the temporary end of caution trap! in 2001 the program was reissued in 2018.


In the broadcast with the subtitle Nepper, Schlepper, Bauernfänger (at times with the addition: The criminal police warns ) Zimmermann warned of numerous frauds committed in everyday life and in business at the front door . Usually short episodes were replayed and an off-voice commented on the event. After the films, Zimmermann usually gave additional advice to the viewers on how they could protect themselves against the fraud shown, sometimes addresses (e.g. of clubs or professional associations) were displayed through which the viewers could request further information or advice . Occasionally, short lectures by experts related to the simulated fraud trick were also shown.

In contrast to the program Aktenzeichen XY ... unresolved , which was later also moderated by Zimmermann, the aim was solely to warn the audience, not to solve specific crimes or to apprehend perpetrators; Only in the first few years, up to the introduction of file number XY unsolved, were searches for certain people occasionally broadcast. Otherwise the names of companies or people in the film reconstructions were mostly changed. In the late broadcasts from around 1998, before the first film, it was expressly pointed out that the frauds presented were not intended to discredit entire industries and occupational groups, but that only black sheep should be warned about.

When selecting cases of fraud, an attempt was made to orientate oneself to current circumstances in order to be able to warn the audience as quickly as possible: For example, frauds in connection with vacation travel were often presented in the summer months, the activities of dishonest fundraisers in the run-up to Christmas, etc. Political changes also occurred by warning about secret services around the time of the Cold War. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, however, more frauds were shown that exploited the economic inexperience of GDR citizens . Over the years, some fraud tricks have been presented several times, such as dubious rescheduling, fraud involving home work, etc.

In the first years of the broadcast, attempts at fraud filmed with a hidden camera had already been carried out, in which actors tried out an actual fraud trick on “victims” who were not informed about it, of course with subsequent clarification and return of the fraudulent amounts of money; Because of the rather bulky TV technology at the time, it was difficult to work with a hidden camera and microphone. At that time Eduard Zimmermann also played the cheater himself, which was soon no longer possible due to his general fame - the "victims" began to laugh and address him by name, so Peter Hohl , later studio manager at Aktenzeichen XY, took over this role. From around 1971, the last contribution of the 45-minute program consisted of such a fraud attempt carried out by ZDF (since the late 1970s mostly with Bernd Schröder as a decoy ), in which people were tested for their gullibility with a hidden camera .

Between the individual films, so-called current short warnings have also been presented by Zimmermann since 1983 , mostly reports from the police about new tricks, but sometimes also letters in which viewers described how they were tricked.

The program changed the slot several times, and the length was also changed. A total of 161 episodes with Eduard Zimmermann were broadcast over 33 years from March 24, 1964 to December 3, 1997.

From March 4, 1998, Zimmermann's daughter Sabine Zimmermann presented the program for a further twenty episodes. The last issue for the time being under the title Caution trap! aired on March 6, 2001.

As a follow-up broadcast, from 2004/2005 on, the ZDF conceived a service magazine with Rudi Cerne under the title XY… Security Check .

In October 2016, ZDF showed a file number XY special under the title “Beware of Fraud!” , In which presenter Rudi Cerne devoted himself exclusively to fraud prevention for the first time for a full 90 minutes in the evening program and thus the concern of Beware of Traps! picked up again.

Since November 3, 2018, be careful, trap! to be seen again as an independent program with Rudi Cerne as a presenter in the ZDF program. Initially, three issues (each Saturday, 3:15 p.m.) will be shown. Three more editions followed in spring 2019. The former subtitle "Nepper, Schlepper, Bauernfänger" has been dispensed with. In order to maintain the reference to the Zimmermann era, an old contribution is shown again at the end of the program under the heading “Was everything better in the past?”.


That the television series contributed to increased caution towards possible fraudsters at the apartment door, can be concluded from the reactions in the forum of the program. But it was also criticized that she could give potential con artists some kind of tutoring; This was shown when an old episode was repeated on television and a long “extinct” fraud trick shown in it suddenly reappeared. However, many old fraudulent tricks are no longer possible today due to changed business practices and lifestyle (e.g. marriage fraud ). Conversely, however, it was also feared that the program could also discredit serious companies, entire industries and forms of business or peddlers .


As with the show Aktenzeichen XY ... unsolved , the actors of the perpetrators and victims are not named, but are also played by better-known actors:


The trigger for the development of the format was a fraud to which Zimmermann himself fell victim. One of the prefabricated houses he had bought was missing the roof after installation; his site manager said he should have been careful, then that would not have happened.



  • Eduard Zimmermann: ... the crooks wonderland: Nepper, tug, peasant catcher. Experiences and knowledge from the television series "Beware of the trap" . Darmstadt: Schneekluth, 1966. p. 343.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. E.g. in the 4th broadcast of February 16, 1965, where the search for the trickster Theodor H.
  2. ^ Eduard Zimmermann: Der Ganoven Wunderland, 2nd ed. Darmstadt 1967, pp. 152–155.
  3. So by Zimmermann in the show v. Reported May 5, 1968
  4. E.g. in the broadcast of September 22, 1968.
  5. Beware of the trap! dated February 6, 1971.
  6. As an innovation first introduced in the broadcast of March 6, 1983.
  7. Betrug- 100.html
  8. Caution, trap! , accessed on July 13, 2020 .