This is going to be a post that I'll constantly add to, as it's far too long to all squeeze into 1 post. After living here for 9 years, I have seen and heard of loads of scams, and I'm surprised that the majority of them still work today. There is a guy who has compiled a whole website to do with Barcelona scams and it's huge and spans a fair few years. I've read a fair bit of it (a couple of years ago I stumbled accross the page) and whilst some are real one offs, some of them are still going on today.
The one I'm going to mention this post is the Dancing Dollies. There are variations on this scam, using coins as weights for the feet of the little dollies, but the concept is the same. This scam has been revelaed on BBC's "The Real Hustle" as well, and was even easier to scam the public.
The scam involves a portable cassette player and some loud dance music. You see 2 little paper dollies, next to the music "dancing" away. It looks so cool, and is something that every music system needs. The dollies are usually your favourite cartoon characters, like Homer and Bart Simpson, Mickey and Minnie, Buzz lightyear and woody, Pokemon classics, and other variations. There is the intuition to ask "how does it work?" and the guy selling them simply stops the tape, and the dollies stop dancing, and then he presses play again, and they start the dance again. He speaks just enough to be understood "2 por 4 Euros, 2 for 4 Euros" and this is also part of the scam which I'll explain. You'd be surprised at the joyous faces of children walking up and down las Ramblas with a new packet of worthless colour paper cut-outs and string legs.
So here's how the scam works - I've even seen it being set up in broad daylight. The cassette player has a mechanical wheel on the back of it, with a peice of fishing wire, or some kind of transparent wire on the back whioch makes a loop, and is then either stuck to the back wall, or to a corner, or to a bag. In this photo, you can see that the guy's rucksack is conveniently placed so that you can't see the back of the machine. So the wheel is turning around like a bobbin, and the only thing needed is to "hang" the little dollies on the invisible wire and wait for the punters. All it needs is one to work as the convincer, and everyone else stops, and forks out the cash. In a very short space of time, the seller can be out of his stock.
The great thing about the scam is what I mentioned, that the seller never speaks enough of whatever language it is you ask him the question, so you just have to accept that it's cool, and as it's cheap enough for the gamble. This way the seller doesn't need to answer any "how does it work?" questions, and the best part of the scam is that by the time you get back to your hotel room or Barcelona tourist apartment to try it out on the stereo system, the seller will be long gone.
For more information on Barcelona, see this Barcelona Guide.