Deaf charity scam has been tried before

A scam that tricks people into donating money to a non-existent deaf charity is a repeat of one that happened in the 1990s.

People have been handing out poorly written cards with the sign language alphabet in exchange for cash - but they have nothing to do with any deaf charities.

"We know that they've been in different parts of Wellington [and] Auckland," said Rachel Noble from Deaf Action New Zealand.

She says a similar scam happened in the 1990s, and legitimate groups almost ended up having to pay for the crime.

"In the end, IRD started contacting local organisations saying, 'You need to pay tax on this money,' and we all had to say, 'It wasn't us, we didn't accept the money.'"

Ms Noble says the scammers are undermining legitimate efforts of fundraising for the hearing impaired.

"To see somebody take money from the public saying that it's for the good of the community, it's letting us down and it's ruining our reputation."

Ms Noble says she's hoping if the culprits are found, the money will be donated towards legitimate deaf causes.

The latest scammers' bluff was called when they were spotted by an actual deaf man.

"I went up to her and said, 'I'm deaf, are you deaf?' and she knew I'd caught her out," Wellington man Cameron Ross told Newshub.

"I said, 'What is this? This is not okay, this is unacceptable.' She walked off immediately."

Police are looking into the reports.

Newshub.