“Más vale caer con honor que ganar con fraude.”
You’ve probably heard about them. But, if you’re coming to Spain, you need to know about them. Since moving to Spain, I see more and more people getting tricked into playing this game, every day. I see people posting onto Benidorm Facebook groups, such as Benidorm & Costa Blanca News & Information Forum asking for help after playing the game. I see people losing wallets, passports, money. Hundreds of thousands of people travel risk-free every year. But, don’t be the minority that has this problem.
Who Are The Pea-Men?
The Pea-Men are nothing to be frightened of. Although you must be wary, they pose no threat to you. The Pea-Men operate where there are tourists. Whether this is Paris, Rome or Benidorm.
What Do They Do?
The Pea-Men play games such as “find the pea under the shell” and a variety of card games, such as chase the ace. The Pea-Men will take bets from members of the crowd. This game is impossible to win.
What Should I Do?
Do not stop. Do not be enticed by their game. The game will be surrounded by cheers and claps, however, these spectators are part of the scam, they are there to lure you in. The spectators will wave wads of cash around boasting about their win and how easy it is to win. This is not the case.
Cross the road. The best idea is to cross the road away from the game. The Pea-Men and their spectators are not interested in following individuals. They are waiting for the people who join in and stand and wait. Those who become an easy target. Thieves will mingle within the spectating crowd and pickpocket.
Why Aren’t The Police Stopping It?
The Spanish laws are complicated, just like everywhere else.
- It is illegal to gamble in the street
- It is not illegal to play a game on the street
Although, it may seem like the Pea-Men are gambling, they are not. They are pretending to gamble, which is a major difference in Spain. Once a participant decides to join in, they are breaking the law, not the pea-men. It is the participant who is gambling. The Pea-Men are not stealing as the participant has offered their money. Therefore, it is not theft.
In order for the police to arrest the Pea-Men, they must be able to prove that the game was set up with the intention to scam. To ease this, the law dictates that should over €400 be found on the person carrying out the scam, they can be arrested under Spanish law. Of course, the Pea-Men are aware of this and ensure they are never or rarely carrying that amount at one time.
The Police are only able to remove their cardboard box table and the props to warn them. Of course, the Pea-Men can replace all of these very quickly.
What About The Surrounding Pickpockets?
The Police are able to arrest and act against those that have pickpocketed from the crowd. The Police would need to witness and find the thief with your belongings in order to make an arrest.
I Have Been Pickpocketed, What Should I Do?
If you have been pickpocketed from spectating, it is important that you head to the Police station and report the crime. To find out how to report at the Police station, click here. This is also essential for insurance purposes.
Remember: Participating in unlicensed gambling is illegal in Spain, therefore, it is illegal for you to play this game. Do not be caught out!
If we all know about this, and we know what to do, we will be safer and have a risk-free trip. The last thing we want on holiday is trips to the Police station and dealing with picking up the pieces. Enjoy the sun, enjoy the relaxation and enjoy the holiday. Don’t be caught out.