We’ve held back on this story since mid-December 2011. We don’t want to be cruel.
Undoubtedly there are people who are deaf who find it hard to get work. Undoubtedly there are people who ask for money because they’re deaf because they are genuinely in need.
However, it has become evident of late that there are undoubtedly those who use the deaf ploy – whether they’re deaf or not – to rob on the streets of Barcelona, and that makes them our target.
So, as the title says: “They Can Act Deaf, But Don’t You Act Dumb”
The scam is this: A guy comes to you, mimes or communicates somehow that he’s deaf. He lays a piece of paper down on the table in front of you explaining this, or he lays down a piece of paper and a pack of tissues on the table in front of you. If you have a wallet or a phone on the table, the piece of paper and/or tissues will be placed on top of it.
He goes away. He comes back. He looks to see if you’ve left him a few coins. He picks up the paper. If the wallet or phone is still under the paper, then it is taken too.
John Smith took a few photos. The first (left) was taken in mid-December 2011 on the train to Manresa, while still in the Cerdanyola area (just outside Barcelona).
The eyes have been concealed because there is no evidence these two individuals have done anything wrong.
John observes that the guys who work these trains handing out leaflets tend to moan while they’re doing so, which can be distracting. John felt that the whole approach was organised, and to his mind seemed connected to the scam where the girls in Montjuic ask for sponsorship for disabled projects, and the women in Placa Catalunya who beg with paper cups.
For the photo below, the text reads (in very broken Spanish): “Hello Ladies and Gentlemen, I have four brothers who are very small. I don’t have working papers, I’m looking for work without papers. Can you help me with a coin so that I can buy? I don’t have a flat in which to sleep. A piece of bread please?”
Text on the bottom photo reads (in broken Spanish): “Gentleman and Lady, I’m a father of two children that need a mouth operation, please help me with a coin. Thank you.”
Needless to say, your wallet or phone should never be left on a tabletop in Barcelona, because it will disappear.