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Were we conned outside Sarria

volleyjanice

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
08/2013 St. Jean Pied de Port-Belorado, 08/2015 Burgos- Santiago/Finisterre/Muxia, 08/18 Portugese
When we arrived at the Cathedral in Santiago in 2015, I was videotaping as we walked through the archway into the square. Grandiose notions of capturing the big moment of our arrival after all of our hard work, blah blah blah... I had no sooner stepped into the light when I was accosted by a young woman who was thrusting her little piece of note paper at me rather aggressively. This was immediately followed up by me seeing the clown train (as we referred to the tourist "train" that takes people throught the city.) Forever immortalized by the audio is my rather bad language expressing my frustration that this "moment" was not going according to plan. After some time laying on our backs in the square, where various tour groups tromped in front of us, our sense of humour returned as well as some perspective. Santiago de Compostela doesn't belong to us, every city has people who beg, and our experience is no more important than anyone elses. Quite frankly our own private scripting of what was going on around us made for a very humorous and enjoyable experience. Everyone is there for different reasons and has a different perspective. For me, I now look at the "end" point of the Camino as something of a gong show and a great illustration of human behaviour at it's best and worst. Thankfully we were able to walk on to Finisterre and Muxia. Muxia provided the ending we were looking for.
 
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MoniRose

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
(5/28-7/4, 2012) Camino Frances - SJPP to Santiago
(7/22-8/2, 2013) Camino Finesterra
(?) Camino Le Puy
Growing up in a large city and spending the last 56 years living next to New York City I'm a little naive as to how people fall for these scams.
My advice is to give no one you are not positive about any money.
When you get home & maybe feel guilty?
Write a check to your hometown foodbank or a charity you trust.
My tax accountant said, "Decide each year to whom you are going to donate and how much, then write your checks. This way you will have documentation for taxes and can walk right past all the panhandlers, etc."
I do this and have no guilt. When the girl at the drugstore asks,"Would you like to donate a dollar to help save a child from cancer?" I can say , "No", knowing I already have. I just hate it when they phrase it that way as an attempt to guilt me!!
 

Sarah Olson

Member
Past OR future Camino
May 2017, Portugues
As I said above, and at the risk of violating my current, "double-secret probation" status on the forum, as a consequence of my US First Amendment-based plain speaking, I said as much as I dare to above. I try to be VERY circumspect now. I am learning over the years to take a more "enlightened" stance...;)

However, I will tell you that YES, my comments DO include the people you refer to around the Cathedral. There appear to me, to be four-generations of relatives working for the "family business."

They have been there like clockwork every day I have also been at Santiago over the past five-years. I have watched the teens grow up, and in the case of one young lady, continue doing her thing whilst sporting a growing pregnancy. She delivered a healthy baby last year (2016). The next time I was there, a few months later, she was back at it, using the baby as a prop. However, I did not see the infant the last time I was there, in May 2017.

BTW, these men and women DO move, about every two-to-three hours, they rotate positions. Only pilgrims, like me, who spend an extended period of time in Santiago whenever possible can observe the patterns and group / family affiliation.

What changes during the summer months is that their younger children, off from school for the summer, augment the group's income by maintaining the deaf-mute scam from Sarria in to Santiago. Watch long enough, and you WILL see them around the Cathedral at Santiago, especially during the summer months, and on weekends when Santiago is chock-a-block with tourists AND pilgrims. I believe the sea-going term would be "all hands to the pumps..."

The pilgrim who arrives today and who is gone in 36-hours is not likely to make the connection. THAT is the basis of the scam. If you are not there long enough to recognize he players and the rotation pattern, you are at their convenience.

And, again at the risk of catching the evil eye from a moderator, THAT is all I should say on this topic.

Finally, and just for the record, and to rebut those who may think me personally uncharitable, I am not. Those who know me will tell you that I am one of the most generous folks around. I am presently in the process of clearing my walk-in closet and packed away storage of all Camino-capable and casual clothing that is excess to needs in my forever home in Southern Florida. This has been going on for some months now. Rather than donating it locally, if the items could conceivably be used by a pilgrim, I lug it to Santiago for direct donation at the Pilgrim House. If I have to pay to check a second piece of luggage so be it. Clothing and footwear goes to Santiago. Non-clothing Camino-capable gear goes to my local APOC chapter.

We should be generous and charitable to those in need...in true need.

Caveat Emptor folks!

I spent a few days extra in Santiago, staying near the Cathedral, so I saw many of the same beggars on consecutive days, including one young woman. They may do this for a living, but I can't believe that it is their life goal to be on their knees on the cobblestones in the rain, holding out a paper cup. It may bring them money, but joy? Doubt it. We are so much more lucky to have options and be able to live joyfully. I will not begrudge them a couple of euros to help pay the bills. When in doubt, err on the side of kindness. <3
 

MichelleElynHogan

Veteran Member
If you are of a mind to feel out the scam, ask for an address for the school. Pull out your cell and start checking google maps or something. If they tell you it is not built yet, simply say, "How is that possible? I made donations to this school 20 years ago. It has to be built by now."
 
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CF- Finisterre-Muxia 03/17; Camino SK 10/17; Norte 03/18; Ingles 11/18; Augusta 03/19
As two of us left Sarria on 30th June we were approached by a couple of girls in a field purporting to be collecting for a new school for deaf children. We signed our names on their sheet, handed over a donation of 10 euro and went on our way as the girls extracted further donation from another pilgrim.
As I walked I wondered about this event and as I think on it I come to the conclusion that we were conned. Oh well. No harm done !

This scam is even done in the town I live in in Slovakia.
 
Past OR future Camino
SJPdP–Santiago (2012); SJPdP–Santiago, (2015); SJPdP–Logrono (2017); Logrono-Santiago (2018)
You and many of us.
Well, once burned...;)

I've seen them at O Cebreiro and past Portomarin, and am told they have 'helpers/handlers' with a car; it's a pretty obvious scam. But one thing I have wondered is how 'voluntary' their work is.

As others have said - it's important to keep giving when there is genuine need, when we know the recipients are legitimate. These two definitely aren't.
We see them in Paris all the time, especially at tourist attractions, e.g. the Eiffel Tower. Once we saw a group of the young girls all gathered around an older woman who was yelling at them. They then dispersed into the crowds to resume their "work." So, yes, it is doubtful they are volunteers. Parisians are well-acquainted with these rings. We were always advised to stay well away.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Perhaps it would be better to quote the full post and see if your answer still applies.

Please. Do not think I haven't read the whole thing and understood it.

I seem to be subjected to a rather unpleasant online moral purity campaign recently, here and there.

I can only conclude that telling people what you think is considered to be wrong.

Crikey, let me get back onto the Camino and outside of everyone's precious safety zones !!
 
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SteveSherry

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2014,Camino Frances, 2016 Frances, 2018 Francés, 2016/18 Finisterre and Muxia
As two of us left Sarria on 30th June we were approached by a couple of girls in a field purporting to be collecting for a new school for deaf children. We signed our names on their sheet, handed over a donation of 10 euro and went on our way as the girls extracted further donation from another pilgrim.
As I walked I wondered about this event and as I think on it I come to the conclusion that we were conned. Oh well. No harm done !
 

SteveSherry

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2014,Camino Frances, 2016 Frances, 2018 Francés, 2016/18 Finisterre and Muxia
My wife was conned in 2014 in Paris. Later that day we saw them being arrested a little further up the Seine River. Call it what it is, stealing. The clipboard is a dead giveaway. It was the collecting for the deaf con. They are very good at it and probably make good money.
 

SteveSherry

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2014,Camino Frances, 2016 Frances, 2018 Francés, 2016/18 Finisterre and Muxia
Are you sure they were "arrested"? Taken away to jail in handcuffs?
No handcuffs but certainly put in the back of a van and removed from the area. Jail? Probably not, but that's not a prerequisite for being arrested. I'm always happy to give beggars money or food and really don't care what it's spent on but being conned is another thing. Maybe it's brought on by desperation in this world we now find ourselves in. I love the Camino because I get to step outside the ' real' world and enjoy nature and the company of wonderful people. It recharges me for the future.
 
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Rhysmike

Member
Past OR future Camino
St. Jean to Santiago (Apr to June 2014); St. Jean to Finisterre (Apr to May 2016); Via Francigena - Lausanne to Rome (Sep to October 2016)
As two of us left Sarria on 30th June we were approached by a couple of girls in a field purporting to be collecting for a new school for deaf children. We signed our names on their sheet, handed over a donation of 10 euro and went on our way as the girls extracted further donation from another pilgrim.
As I walked I wondered about this event and as I think on it I come to the conclusion that we were conned. Oh well. No harm done !
Yes, we've seen them near O'Cebreiro too
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Ourense to Santiago (2019), CF: (2014, 2004, 2002, 2001). On to Fisterra, (2002, 4, 14).
In 2001, camino number one, I used the Lozano guidebook freely given to Pilgrims by Spain's Office of Tourism in NYC. Lozano cites Aymeric Picaud, the French monk who wrote Liber Peregrinationis circa 1130. Picaud mentions the town of St Jean probably S6JPP as the town which charges pilgrims an extortionate tax by "evil tax collectors". Apparently, pilgrims were waylaid with, clubs and sticks, by officials forcing pilgrims to pay unjust tributes.
And, Montes de Oca, was one of the most feared stretches due to terrain and, "blood thirsty bandits who would rob and murder passing pilgrims". Give us scheming innocous beggars any day. At least we get past them without a bang on the noggin and our possessions and lives intact.
Lastly, on the stretch from Puente de la Reina to Estella, Picaud says once you cross the river Salado: "Take care not to drink the water here, neither yourself nor your horse, for it is a deadly river! On the way to Santiago we cane across two Navarrese sitting by the bank, sharpening the knives they used to flay pilgrims' horses which had drunk the water and died. We asked them if the water was fit to drink, and they lyingly replied that it was, whereupon we gave it to our horses to drink. Two of them dropped dead at once and the Navarrese flayed them there and them".
Buen camino.

 
Last edited:

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Past OR future Camino
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
In 2001, camino number one, I used the Lozano guidebook freely given to Pilgrims by Spain's Office of Tourism in NYC. Lozano cites Aymeric Picaud, the French monk who wrote Liber Peregrinationis circa 1130. Picaud mentions the town of St Jean probably SJPP as the town which charges pilgrims an extortionate tax by "evil tax collectors". Apparently, pilgrims were waylaid with, clubs and sticks, by officials forcing pilgrims to pay unjust tributes. Are we not lucky to get past "tribute schemers" without a bang on the noggin.

Puente La Reina was another place for this sort of thing if I remember correctly, the bridge was I think built partly as an effort to put a stop to it.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
It's a century old Camino scam :). I purchased "The Miracles of Saint James" by Coffey, Davidson and Dunn a few days ago. It's a translation from the Latin into English of Book II of the Codex Calixtinus (22 miracles associated with St. James) and of chapter 17 of Book I (Veneranda dies sermon). Quote (from around the year 1150, roughly):

I am not sure what I should say about certain hypocrites who, although they are healthy, feign the appearance of sickness, sitting along the route of Saint James or some other saint, and show themselves to the passers-by. For some, out of cupidity, show the passers-by their legs and arms, dipped in rabbit blood or ashes, whipped with a quivering hide, in a most miserable appearance, so that they might extort alms from them. Some stain their lips or cheeks with dark coloring; some who have Jerusalem-type palms and capes, paint their faces and hands with exfoliated bulbs, which the French call lotuesses, so that they might have a sickly appearance. Similarly, others pretend that they are mute or deaf, although they are not.
[More gory descriptions of various scams]. They are so filled with pride that they do not want to accept bread or modest alms, but do take coins or cloth or wax.

And here's some of the advice given, in part similar to what is often said here but there's more: Therefore, while you are going to the threshold of Blessed James or whatever saint, do not judge those to whom you should give alms, but correct them diligently when you return. For, as Blessed James says: "Whoever shall have caused a sinner to be converted from the error of his way, will save his soul from death, and will cover up a multitude of his own sins."

So, everyone walking back from Santiago, there's work waiting for you in Sarria :cool:.
 

Kieran Kenneally

Inspired
Past OR future Camino
Stages on both French and Northern routes. Plan to walk Tui to Santiago in June 2017
Please. Do not think I haven't read the whole thing and understood it.

I seem to be subjected to a rather unpleasant online moral purity campaign recently, here and there.

I can only conclude that telling people what you think is considered to be wrong.

Crikey, let me get back onto the Camino and outside of everyone's precious safety zones !!
I think we all have different views no offence meant would be sooooooooo boring if we all thought the same way:p
 
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First one in 1977 by train. Many since then by foot. Next one ASAP.
I met those two somewhere near Palas in 2012...

Offered them a couple of euros 'cause I'm a priest and I was wearing my collar and I somehow thought it would look bad if I didn't. But I knew they were bogus. And they knew that I knew. I half expected them to decline the offer. They didn't. So I gave them a blessing, too, gratis. :)

I sorta hoped that they'd be moved by that encounter to rethink what they were doing, moved to a change of heart and to a new and better life.... But obviously not.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
@rappahannock_rev sadly I think that your generosity only reinforced their business model....

It might be good for members to be aware of Article 41 of the Spanish Constitution which states "that the public authorities shall maintain a public social security system for all citizens, guaranteeing sufficient support and social benefits in situations of need, especially in the event of unemployment, and that the support and additional benefits shall be free".

My "quick and dirty" search of the internet tells me that for all citizens that means universal health care and a means tested social assistance scheme and old age pension scheme - small but hopefully no-one starves. There is also a contributory unemployment and pension social security scheme for those who have worked and made payments, which is very heavily subsidised by the State.

Please do not follow up with a political discussion. You can do further research off-forum if you are interested.
 

Jean Abreu

New Member
Past OR future Camino
April, 2017 Camino France
As two of us left Sarria on 30th June we were approached by a couple of girls in a field purporting to be collecting for a new school for deaf children. We signed our names on their sheet, handed over a donation of 10 euro and went on our way as the girls extracted further donation from another pilgrim.
As I walked I wondered about this event and as I think on it I come to the conclusion that we were conned. Oh well. No harm done !

My son and I walked the Camino in April/May and we ran into this very thing. They were collecting for the deaf I believe - and one gal did appear to speak with the voice of a deaf person. Both my son and I coughed up a few euros and as I walked on - - - - I wondered what had just happened. Now I know!!! :)
 

Sandi Smith

Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
As two of us left Sarria on 30th June we were approached by a couple of girls in a field purporting to be collecting for a new school for deaf children. We signed our names on their sheet, handed over a donation of 10 euro and went on our way as the girls extracted further donation from another pilgrim.
As I walked I wondered about this event and as I think on it I come to the conclusion that we were conned. Oh well. No harm done !


Sadly- I can assure you that this is a con. I'm a professional sign language interpreter- have been for 29 years! Before I walked the Francés in 2014, I heard about this going on. I was so hoping to run into them to see what was happening.

Happily, I did have them approach me on the way. As I suspected, they freaked out when I starting signing with them! I guarantee they are NOT Deaf. Deaf culture worldwide includes an automatic "chat" when someone else approaches signing. These girls were petrified and hurried off. I yelled back to people behind me that it was a scam. The girls got nothing from a long line of us.

Spread the word. It's a big, long-standing scam! I guarantee it.
 

Kieran Kenneally

Inspired
Past OR future Camino
Stages on both French and Northern routes. Plan to walk Tui to Santiago in June 2017
I met those two somewhere near Palas in 2012...

Offered them a couple of euros 'cause I'm a priest and I was wearing my collar and I somehow thought it would look bad if I didn't. But I knew they were bogus. And they knew that I knew. I half expected them to decline the offer. They didn't. So I gave them a blessing, too, gratis. :)

I sorta hoped that they'd be moved by that encounter to rethink what they were doing, moved to a change of heart and to a new and better life.... But obviously not.
The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak
 
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Zak mellor

New Member
Past OR future Camino
5 Caminos another this year
As two of us left Sarria on 30th June we were approached by a couple of girls in a field purporting to be collecting for a new school for deaf children. We signed our names on their sheet, handed over a donation of 10 euro and went on our way as the girls extracted further donation from another pilgrim.
As I walked I wondered about this event and as I think on it I come to the conclusion that we were conned. Oh well. No harm done !
Yes I saw these girls, I was told It's a con
But as you say no harm done
10e. 1 e would have done the trick
Buen Camino
 

Ernesto.IT

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
As two of us left Sarria on 30th June we were approached by a couple of girls in a field purporting to be collecting for a new school for deaf children. We signed our names on their sheet, handed over a donation of 10 euro and went on our way as the girls extracted further donation from another pilgrim.
As I walked I wondered about this event and as I think on it I come to the conclusion that we were conned. Oh well. No harm done !
As two of us left Sarria on 30th June we were approached by a couple of girls in a field purporting to be collecting for a new school for deaf children. We signed our names on their sheet, handed over a donation of 10 euro and went on our way as the girls extracted further donation from another pilgrim.
As I walked I wondered about this event and as I think on it I come to the conclusion that we were conned. Oh well. No harm done !


Last year I had the same in Porto, I give them 10 EU they nearly refuse them because they wanted 20.
This year they were in Santiago and I just pushed past them.
 
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