Scam City: On the Hunt in Barcelona
Scam City’s production coordinator, Sara Nourizadeh, found that Barcelona is the perfect hunting ground for a cast of colourful characters—from con men magicians to scheming prostitutes.
This is a GUEST POST by Scam City camera crew member SARA NOURIZADEH.
As a tourist in Barcelona, it is easy to get lost in the excitement and commotion of such a vibrant city. The Barcelona culture and lifestyle can be seen in its stunning architecture, museums, festivals and cuisine, all of which are part of the cultural heritage of this popular city.
As a member of the crew and working behind the scenes on this series, it soon became clear that Barcelona had some of the most skilled and creative con men yet to be seen. Not only were these thieves at the top of their game, but they were also fearless, taking your money off you day or night. So while we were being amazed by the breathtaking Gothic Architecture and Catalan Modernism, we also had all our James Bond-style gadgets at the ready as we took to the streets, ready to find these notorious con men and scammers, and to try to become part of their gang to see exactly how they operate.
Following the tourist trail, we headed for the famous Las Ramblas. Popular with tourists and locals alike, this pedestrian mall is an amazing mixture that has attracted people by the thousands—but it’s also the one place in the world that has a reputation for being pickpocket central, and being scammed by the local street vendors is not uncommon. But for us, it meant one thing: a perfect hunting ground!
“We had all our James Bond-style gadgets at the ready as we took to the streets, ready to find these notorious con men and scammers.”
It didn’t take more than a second to come across our first character, Mikel, on a busy section of Las Ramblas. Mikel had set up his ‘magic tricks’ display, alluring tourists and locals from all over. But no matter how many dollars you bet against Mikel, there is no defeating this master. It soon became apparent that there are no winners in this game, except for Mikel himself. Conning tourists is part of Mikel’s job and he is pretty damn good at it.
We got to know Mikel and the amazing team that works behind this crafty street operation, which is robbing tourists of hundreds—if not thousands—of pounds! Having spent some time filming and closely watching how the team operated, we soon caught up with Mikel and found out that he was actually a really nice guy (maybe a little on the crazy side). Hearing Mikel’s tale and how he is constantly on the run from the police astounded me, and I actually felt sympathetic toward him, even though he’s essentially a robber!
“Not only were these thieves at the top of their game, but they were also fearless, taking your money off you day or night.”
Mikel was not the only interesting character that we met while we were in Barcelona. Marianna was a character who is hard to forget—and not just because I had never met a transsexual before. Mariannna was charming and fun, which is exactly what you would expect from someone who knows how to work the streets like her. Without Marianna, this show really wouldn’t have been the same, and being invited into her home and gaining access into her life was one of the most exciting parts of this show. Seeing Conor dressed in drag and sending him out to the streets to re-enact Marianne’s ‘scam’ was an eye opener and just goes to show how easy it is to get conned in this incredible city!
Next time I visit Barcelona, I definitely won’t be forgetting my spycam!
By Sara Nourizadeh, Production Coordinator, Scam City
WATCH FULL EPISODES OF SCAM CITY ONLINE HERE!