Deaf com­mu­nity warns against card-sell­ing scam

The Press - - News - Caro­line Wil­liams

A deaf or­gan­i­sa­tion has is­sued a scam warn­ing fol­low­ing re­ports of peo­ple pre­tend­ing to be deaf, and prof­it­ing from sell­ing un­of­fi­cial New Zealand Sign Lan­guage ed­u­ca­tion cards.

Deaf Ac­tion New Zealand posted pho­tos of the cards on social me­dia with a warn­ing, which yielded many com­ments from peo­ple who had seen the cards be­ing sold, mostly by women.

Deaf Ac­tion NZ sec­re­tary Rachel No­ble said the cards were re­port­edly be­ing sold in Lower Hutt, Welling­ton and Auck­land but had no af­fil­i­a­tion with deaf or­gan­i­sa­tions and com­mu­ni­ties reg­is­tered with the Char­ity Com­mis­sion.

The cards in­cluded the NZ Sign Lan­guage al­pha­bet which ap­peared to have been copied from Deaf Aotearoa’s free ed­u­ca­tion re­sources.

They were be­ing sold for $5 and claimed to be ‘‘the voice of a group of deaf peo­ple’’.

‘‘I am deaf since the child­hood [sic],’’ a card read. ‘‘Our goal is to earn a liv­ing.’’

No­ble said the first time a deaf per­son raised con­cerns about the cards was in April last year but re­ports had es­ca­lated re­cently. She said it seemed many had pur­chased the cards.

Money given to these peo­ple would not sup­port of­fi­cial deaf com­mu­ni­ties, most of which were vol­un­teer-op­er­ated groups, she said. ‘‘We are fu­ri­ous about what it is do­ing to our rep­u­ta­tion.

‘‘Some­thing needs to be done.’’

She said it was un­likely the sell­ers had paid tax on their earn­ings.

Deaf Aotearoa pres­i­dent Oliver Fer­gu­son said it had been con­tacted to ask if it was con­nected to the card-sell­ers. He was dis­ap­pointed well-mean­ing peo­ple in shops and their work­places were be­ing tar­geted.

‘‘I am an­gry. This is a nui­sance. These peo­ple think they are do­nat­ing to a good cause.’’ Despite the NZSL al­pha­bet chart on the cards be­ing Deaf Aotearoa’s re­sources, he said it had noth­ing to do with the sales. ‘‘In fact, we have re­sources – such as the al­pha­bet – freely ac­ces­si­ble through our web­site [Deaf Aotearoa].’’

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