Scammers pretend to be deaf to swindle unsuspecting victims

Deaf Action New Zealand has warned people not to fall for an old scam that has resurfaced.

A post to their Facebook page warns of a man pretending to be deaf, and trying to sell trinkets for $10.

"Before you ask, no he is not deaf" the group wrote on Friday.

"He avoids anyone trying to use sign language with him."

The group says the man has been in Christchurch and Wellington but disappeared when police were notified of his actions.

"An incident occurred on 23 May during which a male asked a person for a donation in lieu of giving the person a card at a premises in Central Christchurch," a police spokesperson told Newshub.

"When a member of the public tried to sign with the male it became apparent the male was not deaf."

Police say he was asked to leave and did so - he was not spoken to by police.

Earlier in the year, a similar scam was reported where members of the public were approached by people holding small cards with sign language on them, asking for donations.

It was suspected hundreds of people had fallen for the scam.

Rachel Noble from Deaf Action New Zealand told Newshub in January the scam has been circulating for years.

She says a similar scam happened in the 1990s with legitimate deaf groups having to pay the price.

"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.'"

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."