Scammed For Sympathy On The Street

It was a horrible story. A man approached Liza on the street and said that he needed $6 because his mother had just had a stroke behind the wheel of a car and he was short on cash to pay for the tow truck while she was taken to the hospital. It was also a lie.

Liza’s story is posted on the New York Times City Room blog:

“Excuse me,” he said, turning around.

“Yes?”

“I — I just moved to the neighborhood,” he said, naming an address on Underhill. “Do you know if there’s a tow truck place around here?”

I opened my mouth to direct him to Bergen Street, which is lined with car repair places, about to say, “They would know.” Before I could get the thought out, he spoke again.

“My mother had a stroke behind the wheel. An ambulance took her. I’m trying to get a tow truck. All I need is $6.”

Six dollars. The words “mother” and “stroke” were all I had to hear to get me reaching for my wallet. As I opened it, I thought of how here I was, alone on a dark stretch of block, with a man who could easily pull out a knife and tell me to give him all my money, my phone, even my dog. I didn’t have $6. I had a twenty. I gave it to him.

“I’ll pay you back,” he said.

“Don’t worry about it.”

The woman turned back after walking away and noticed that the man was leisurely strolling down the boulevard, looking not at all like someone who was in an emergency. Online, she found stories of a person matching the description of the man she gave money to. They took place in the same neighborhood and he had been telling the same story for years. One of the sightings said that they same him eating oysters and drinking martinis at a nice local restaurant. That post was from six years ago.

We all want to do good in this world but it’s important to not be taken advantage of. A sob-story with a pitch for cash on the street is probably fake. If you want to give your money to the less fortunate, charitynavigator.org is a good site to evaluate which charities are worth it.

Complaint Box | The Sympathy Sham [cityroom.blogs.nytimes]

Comments

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  1. thomwithanh says:

    That is disgusting on every possible level. I’ve lost family members due to stroke, you don’t lie about something like that.

    I feel for the OP…

  2. Yomiko says:

    “I need gas money to drive home but all I have is a Vicotria’s Secret store card.” That’s the stupidest pitch I’ve gotten. The ability to say no to people who do this is a piece of Boston I’m happy to have retained.

    • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

      “I don’t have any food. Only this piece of hard rock candy. But it’s not for eatin'; just for lookin’ through.”

  3. Wasp is like Requiem for a Dream without the cheery bits says:

    Really? Really? Really?

    Is this her first time in the big city?

    • Billy says:

      They edited the first line from the story. It said something about her recent fall from a turnip truck.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      It must be, because she let someone stop her on the street. City people know when to just keep walking, especially if they hear “I just need…” They also know to keep a tight grip on their purse, wallet, etc. It doesn’t make city people rude; we’re just very wary.

      • Wasp is like Requiem for a Dream without the cheery bits says:

        Yeah, I was wondering if my comment made me sound like a mega bitch but from the other comments it turns out I’m pretty much the voice of the majority. You don’t let people stop you and you just say no. That’s how things are. If you want to engage with a stranger be ready to do some quick thinking. Most of the time people hear about something horrible and they automatically respond.

        She could have asked to pay the tow truck driver directly and he probably would have backed off and she would have figured it out.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          My instinct is also to keep a tight grip on my stuff, because a classic technique to stealing is to distract someone while a partner lifts your wallet. I always have a hand on my purse strap to begin with, but I figure that it makes me a less likely target if thieves don’t think they can distract me or steal my stuff even if they think they could distract me.

      • ajaxd says:

        Yep, when I was commuting to Manhattan that’s exactly what I did. Sometimes you feel like a heartless bastard but in 95% of cases somebody is just trying to scam or sell you junk and there is no other way.

    • Coffee says:

      Pretty much…”Oh no! Your mom had a stroke? I’ll call the police…maybe they can give you a lift to the hospital!”

      • Wasp is like Requiem for a Dream without the cheery bits says:

        This. Offer to call the police or non-emergency services if someone approaches you with one of these stories.

        A woman did that to me shortly after I got to Chicago. I was so stunned after she said she was running from an abusive husband with her kids I just gave her a few dollars. I didn’t even THINK until afterward to just wave the police over.

        You live and learn, you don’t put it on the NYT blog. >:(

      • chgoeditor says:

        Yes! A few years ago I went to a safety talk given by a Chicago Police Officer. One of the best tips I got: Whenever someone approaches you with a sob story like this, the first thing you should do is offer to call the police for them. 99 out of 100 times, they’ll make up an excuse and disappear.

        The officer went as far as to suggest that you say, “Oh, my brother/father/wife/sister/mom/dad/boyfriend is a cop. He works nearby/is napping just inside the house/lives just around the corner. I’m sure he’d be thrilled to help and give you a ride where ever you need to go.”

    • El_Cheapocabra says:

      It can be a game, if you want to practice your debate. Just make sure you’re in a well-lit, busy, monitored place before you fire back. If you’re not, just keep walking.
      I was in a store parking lot when a guy tried to get money for a tow for his stranded mother. I was trying to avoid him, but he kept following me. I looked right up at the security cameras and kept in the line of sight as I walked. When he begged, I offered to call a service for him. He refused. I asked him to show me the car, and he just gestured randomly. I waited for him to break it off, but he kept begging. I offered to give the “poor stranded mother” a ride, if he was willing to wait for my family members to show up. He wasn’t. I offered to call a mechanic friend to check out the car for free, but he wanted my cash. He got a little agitated when he saw my hand on my phone. The guy tried to follow me into the store, and I walked toward the nearest security vehicle. THEN he broke off.
      I’ve lived in bad towns, and I’ve been attacked. Had I not been where I was, and in daylight, I would’ve run. Paying someone with a sob story is also a setup for an attack. They know you’re a mark, and that you have something valuable on your person.

    • cape1232 says:

      Step 1: realize you alone can’t solve all the world’s problems.
      Step 2: eliminate your guilt. Choose a charity and donate the amount right for you. (Me: I volunteer with big brother big sister).
      Step 3: when someone tries to get you to give them money: say, “Sorry…”.

      That “sorry” is the right response to most opening lines, and in your head you can add all the snark you want :). Plus it keeps you from engaging, and keeps you from trying to lie. Panhandlers always have a retort for the common lies.

      “Do you have any change?” “Sorry…”

      “Excuse me…” “Sorry…”

      “Can you spare change for some food?” “Sorry…”

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        Perfect.

        If I must tell them anything, I just say “No cash, bro.” Nowadays that actually works since people don’t carry it much anymore.

    • poco says:

      No kidding. This scam’s been going on in Denver for years. I don’t even stop to listen anymore.

    • dg says:

      P.T. Barnum was right!
      I had some scumbag try a similar pitch on me when I was 18 – “Oh, we lost our train tickets and need to get home to Kansas. Can you loan us $30? We’ll send it to you when we get home.”
      My response: “Fuck you. Go talk to a Cop.”
      I saw that scumbag on the street every day for the next 3 years with the same scam…

    • OnePumpChump says:

      I’ve gotten a pitch like this in every town I’ve lived in in the US, and only one of those was even close to being a major city.

    • JennQPublic says:

      This has happened to me numerous times in my hometown, pop. about 110,000. Once I got hit up three times in one day. So big city dweller or not, common sense should kick in.

  4. Bent Rooney says:

    I am shocked. SHOCKED!

  5. dolemite says:

    The last time I heard this scam, someone needed $10 to get back home because so and so was sick and they’d run out of gas money. I’m like: “$10? Here’s $2″. What are they driving, an Escalade? Oh, and they approached me as I was leaving the bank.

    Not only do those people make you sick for lying, but because I bet the OP in the story will be less likely to give to a real cause next time, so their greed is hurting real people in need.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      It’s fun to catch them in the lie. In your case:

      “That’s terrible. Take me to your car right now and I’ll follow you to the gas station to be sure you can get there, and then I’ll throw a couple bucks into the tank for you. That should get you home just fine. Let’s go!”

      • ChristopherDavis says:

        Yup. Latest version of that I’ve encountered was the “I lost my train tickets and have to get back to Providence, can you help me buy a new ticket and I’ll pay you back?”

        My reply: “Sure, let’s head over to the station (it was just a block away); we can go to the ticket counter, I’ll buy the ticket, hand it to you, and we can make sure you get on the train okay.”

        Her response: “I don’t think I feel comfortable with that.” No kidding! Giving her an actual ticket instead of cash, and making her leave her usual pitch?

    • ilovemom says:

      Stranded (“out of gas” or “need bus fare”) stories are the way panhandlers have figured out how to ask for more than change. Though I’ve wondered if it’s a way to gauge how much money a person has (ie to mug or not to mug) or if they are hoping that people are scared and will give them a relatively small amount of money to go away (hoping to avoid a mugging), since most people who approach me with these stories act like they might try to mug me.

      • TheWillow says:

        it’s because it’s probably more effective to make the story something you can relate to, and also makes them seem more like “you” (a productive member of society who made a mistake) versus “them” (crazy panhandler/hand-out-seeker)…

        I still feel guilty though.

      • Guppy says:

        I got a “Me and my baby are stranded here (from inside a car in a Walmart parking lot) and need to go to x (some little town outside Albuquerque).” I gave her a few bucks, and she didn’t even wait until I was out of ear shot to ask someone else. A week later, almost in the same parking spot in the same lot she pulled the same thing. I told her, “You told me that one last time.” All she had to say was, “Oh, okay.” And continued to shout from her car window to other people.

    • dourdan says:

      approaced you at a bank! of course.

      i had something simiar, i was going to a bakery in a upperclass neighborhood so i needed to pull out the dollars in my pocket to make sure i had enough for what i planned to get.

      this was enough time for a homeless woman with an empty stroller to come up to me with “can you help me? i need dispers for my baby!”

      she woudl never have down that if she diden’t see my looking at my money.
      needless to say i said no and hurried inside the store.

  6. JonathanR says:

    I usually just tell these people that I don’t carry cash.

    • nugatory says:

      yep, thats my response too.

    • mpeterson78 says:

      I’ve said this same thing, and I’ve actually had some dudes (jokingly, i hope) tell me they take credit cards as well…

    • McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

      I tried that once and the guy asked me if he could borrow my credit card.

      Seriously?

      SRSLY?

      Outrageous the gall of some people.

    • tsukiotoshi says:

      When I was living in DC a friend from NYC came to visit me. We were stopped by a woman on the Mall and I smelled scam a mile away. Sure enough it was this sob story much like the one in the article and I immediately interjected “Yeah sorry, we don’t have any cash. Union station is that way.” So she asked if we could go to the ATM with her up the street and I said no, we are not doing that. My friend said, “Well actually I have $20 you could have.” It took all my willpower not to facepalm right there.

      • bkginsu says:

        I once came across a fellow begging for money outside of an ATM. He knew no one coming out of there could claim “I don’t have any cash,” so I was (sorta) forced to say that I simply *didn’t want* to give him a $20 bill. I phrased it differently, though.

      • zibby says:

        Ugh…the bums here camp out the ATMs and sometimes maybe open the door for people (gee, thanks, it would be a big help if I were disabled!) but not usually. I always thought that there was no way people were walking out of the lobby and giving them $20’s but after this thread I ain’t so sure…

  7. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I guy stopped me as I was leaving from the grocery store. Stupid me with my window down.

    He gave quite the long-winded but very eloquently-spoken sob story about just moving here and needing money because he hadn’t received his first paycheck. I wish I was a less nicer human being because I wasn’t going to give him money but didn’t want to interrupt him.

    • vastrightwing says:

      The more elaborate the story, the higher the chance it’s total Barbara Streisand!

    • BerlinSwing says:

      I’ve had someone follow me after I turned him down at a gas station. Gave me a similar well-polished speech about being a veteran, losing everything in Katrina, needing to get to the VA. He just WOULD NOT quit when I told him no. Thinking this was a guy who’d hit me up for gas money a few months ago, I turned to him and angrily said, “You don’t even remember me, do you?” It was just unexpected enough that it gave me an opening to get in my car and leave. In hindsight it probably wasn’t the same guy, but I’ve used it ever since.

  8. donjumpsuit says:

    Always happens, after Hurricane Katrina, some guy carried a picture of a “foster family” and was asking for a “few bucks” to make it over the bridge and pick up his foster kids from school.
    Also people who are “homeless” can make close to $200 an hour asking for spare change.

    Everyone’s response should be “I’m all set”. You are asking me to buy the fact that you can’t get up off your ass and mop a McDonalds, then I am telling you I ain’t buying it for the price of the change in my pants.

    • steve says:

      One time I saw a lady in a wheelchair with a big sign saying she’s homeless and needed money for food. I walked past I noticed she was ducking her head behind the sign and was talking on her cell phone.

    • Szleegs says:

      I’m from Detroit, right at the 8 mile border. For years growing up we had one beggar who would stand at the corner of 8 mile and I-75, then go hop in his red Corvette he had parked under the overpass to drive home each night.

      Just growing up in the city, I never, ever give money to the bums, nor do I even acknowledge them. It’s the easiest way to avoid being approached. And maybe I’m heartless, but if they are truly starving, they will either find a job or die off. We’re getting overcrowded here, anyways.

      • MrEvil says:

        My sister caught one of them moving between intersections here in Austin way faster than they could have on foot or on bicycle. There’s a reason these people are usually near intersections close to shopping malls. They can park their car nearby and camp at their corner all day telling people their sob stories.

        • snowmentality says:

          Yeah. I’m usually kind of a bleeding heart, but yesterday I saw a woman on the median at a traffic light holding up a “Hungry, please help” cardboard sign … while eating Bojangles and smoking a cigarette. That ticked me off.

          I mean, it’s possible that someone had bought her the Bojangles meal in lieu of giving cash, and someone might have given her a cigarette the same way. But I’m inclined to doubt it.

          I checked her shoes. They were new-looking sneakers. (I’ve been told by people who have actually been homeless that you can always tell by someone’s shoes.)

          I also had a dude approach me at the gas station near my house and say “I’m not asking for money. My truck is out of gas, and my friend is going to lend me gas money, but he lives a mile down the road. Could you give me a ride down to that intersection?” I said no, and he backed off, but I am still trying to figure out what the ultimate point of that scam was. My best guess is that he was approaching women driving alone, on the principle that they would be smart enough not to give him a ride, but would feel guilty and give him cash instead. But that might be overly sophisticated psychology for that kind of dude.

          A few months later the same dude knocked on our door at midnight (I don’t think he knew it was mine, I think he was just randomly knocking on doors of houses where people were still up). My husband opened the door assuming it must be a neighbor having an emergency (I was surprised by that — husband grew up in Detroit, surely he’s not that naive). The dude had some extremely long, complicated sob story about getting locked out, and a car broken down, and a friend, and a cab, but the upshot was he wanted $25.

          Seriously, panhandlers knocking on random doors to deliver their sob stories is something I hadn’t encountered before I lived here, and really don’t want to encounter again.

  9. crispyduck13 says:

    Oldest scam going. At University of Pittsburgh we had several of these, they all had names too: Bus Fair Lady, Phone Booth Guy, etc. When they run their line they sound exactly like a telemarketer reading a script, it’s creepy as hell because they also look completely out of it. It’s probably as close to a zombie encounter as I ever hope to have.

    These fine citizens played a small but important part in making me the cynical asshole I am today.

    • LMA says:

      Yup — Oldest Scam indeed. I remember when I used to work in NYC in the late ’80s there was a frequent scammer who, dressed in business attire, would stop people as they walked away from the ticket window (while they still had their wallets out) and would apologetically ask if he could “borrow” the $20 it took to take a rush hour train to New Haven (the last stop and thus the most expensive ticket) because he’d just been mugged outside on 42nd street and now had no money and no commuter pass. It came as no surprise to me when he was finally caught that he was earning far more money running that scam than I did in any of the 7 miserable jobs I had in NYC the 8 years after college.

    • Szleegs says:

      In college we had Gums and Scary Mary. They were the harmless crazies that actually didn’t beg for money at all. I worked at Starbucks, and I would leave bags of pastries next to the garbage can at the end of the night for them.

    • Alisha Gray says:

      I live in Pittsburgh, one time when I was in college someone stopped me on the sidewalk asking for money for gas because his car had run out. I told him I didn’t have any money but if he wanted a ride I could give it to him. He freaked out and ran away. xD

  10. RobofNYC says:

    When I was going for brunch in the West Village (prior to my moving to the East Village), a guy walked up to me and said he was locked out of his apartment and needed $20 for a locksmith. I just ignored him because it seemed like b.s. I was a good match for him, size wise, so I wasn’t really concerned on that score.

    Fast forward five years later (and a lot more street savvy), the same guy approached me with the same story. I chewed him out and followed him around. Whenever he approached someone I related how he said the same thing five years ago.

    Probably not a smart thing to do, but, maybe he thought I was nuts and didn’t want to start up.

    These lines are among the worst. If a guy looks obviously handicapped (and I have seen him before in the area) I will give a dollar or even five. But, the ones that come up with clever stories invariably are scams.

    • dulcinea47 says:

      Yeah, there’s a couple here in town who’ve needed a few bucks for gas to get home (somewhere else in the midwest, I forget where) for the past decade.

    • dourdan says:

      for about 4 years there was one guy in the bart station that said “I’m just 2 dollars short”.

      once my sister actually gave him 2 dollars. she felt like crap the next day she realized what he was.

    • varro says:

      I’ve been hardened to panhandlers since living in Portland, where young people go to retire, and where every trustafarian and gutter punk will end up in front of the 10th/Jefferson Safeway, the 6th/Alder Rite Aid, or the 6th/Main McDonald’s.

      The one guy at 6th/Salmon in a wheelchair with legs amputated at the knees got $1 every time I saw him,though.

    • Rena says:

      A better method would have been to follow further behind and hold up a sign reading “IT’S A SCAM” whenever he approaches someone. Of course, you’d have to make a sign…

  11. Coffee says:

    Unfortunately, this is the norm if you live in the city. I used to commute through downtown Berkeley, and every day, the same people would be at the BART station, telling people about how they just needed a couple bucks to get a ticket to go see their mom/sister/etc. You get really jaded to that sort of thing after a while, and I took to wearing headphones and reading a book to filter it all out.

    I specifically remember being so cynical and defensive when walking in the city, that I was walking down the sidewalk one night, and a black girl about 20 years old approached me and asked a question. I told her I was sorry, but no thank you and kept walking several steps, until something clicked. “What did you say?” I asked. “Do you know what time it is?” “Oh…it’s 9:30…sorry about that.” Yeah…still not too proud of that.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I felt really bad the other day because I saw a woman who didn’t look much older than me holding a cardboard sign asking for money. It was freezing outside and she looked miserable and I felt really bad for her, but I wasn’t going to give her any money. I felt bad about myself that I never considered giving her any money because in my mind, I had already assumed that either she was a scammer or that it was better to be “safe than sorry.” I wish these people the best in getting their lives together, whether they’re scammers or need real help, but it’s been ingrained in me far too much that most people could just be scammers.

      • Aennan says:

        I carry a help bag in my car. It contains single-serving food that doesn’t have to be refrigerated (peanut butter crackers, jerky, fruit cups, etc.) small toiletries, socks, water, and a poncho in a small package.

        If I see someone in need, I can give them this. They get something that may help, and there’s no guilt in passing someone without helping.

        A local community org puts the bags together for $5.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          now that’s a neat idea. i’ve given away my “diabetic emergency snack” before that i keep with me but i never thought to have socks and stuff. usually in the winter here i buy a bunch of scarves and gloves and socks and inexpensive [i'm not rich either] fleece throws from a big discount store and take them right to the shelter. they can always make sure they go to the right people. but i might start carrying extra socks and stuff all the time.

        • Rena says:

          I like that idea. I usually just offer a bus pass, or if there’s a store nearby I might get them some food, but actual bags of useful little things like that seem even better.

          Of course there was the time a “homeless” person asked me for change outside a convenience store, and while I was inside I decided to buy them a sandwich… until I saw them drive off. >.>

      • Claire says:

        I rarely have the time to stop and listen to sob stories/read signs (and I almost never carry cash), but I’m always a sucker for people with animals. I work with some rescue groups so I usually have sample size bags of dog food and treats in my car or purse that I will hand out when I see an obviously homeless person with a dog. 99.9% of people seem really appreciative.

    • evilpete says:

      Berkeley is WAY to accepting of homeless, because of this the city attacks people willing to accept that style of existence/living.

      These people are not needy, yes they want to get off the streets but their personal values do not allow then to work for money if there is someone willing to give it to then, regardless of the lifestyle costs.

      • Coffee says:

        The other thing that cheesed me about Berkeley is that when I lived there about 5 years ago, there were no anti-solicitation laws to prevent a person from walking up to you and asking for money. It never really affected me personally because I’m a big dude and not particularly intimidated by that sort of thing, but a good 25% of the Berkeley student population is Asian girls, many of whom are small of stature and probably intimidated by a big unwashed guy walking right up to them and asking them for money. To me, that kind of thing always felt like a shakedown and made me really uncomfortable.

        • dourdan says:

          your comment reminded me of my mom (asian) who was asked for money outsie her school (in san francisco) by a middle aged black homless man.

          he asked her when she came in to work (ans she gave him change) THEN he asked again whe she went to lunch, she said “i think i already gave you money earilier”

          he said “are you saying this because I’m black! you think all black men look the same?!!” he followed her for about 20 feet untill she gave him more money.

          this is how she told the story. (and his cloths were pretty reconizeble, so unless 2 black men of the same age were dressed identically it WAS the same guy.)

          next week the school moved the 1 secutiry gaurd to that exit.

          • Coffee says:

            Yeah…I saw that scene play out more than once…if people want to give money out of the kindness of their hearts, that’s one thing, but it’s a huge problem when coercion is involved. Incidentally, I shave my head and have a goatee, and I was called a racist skinhead more than once after refusing to give change to people in Berkeley/Oakland.

  12. Phil Keeps It Real [Consumerist] says:

    “No hablo engles” no mater how anglo you look, trust me it works!

    • blogger X says:

      Je suis désolé, mais je ne parle pas anglais.

      High School French FTW!

      • Jules Noctambule says:

        I used that three times last week, in one single day. I used to live in France; over there, I took the same approach using English!

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      Repeating “I am the lizard queen” works, too. Chances are the grifter knows spanish, too!

    • Yomiko says:

      “Ich spreche nicht Englisch”

      The more anglo you look, the more it works.

      • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

        Kein Englisch. Ich spreche kein English. Or “Ich spreche Englisch nicht.”

        • The Lone Gunman says:

          Ich bin ein Berliner.

          If the look at me hungrily, I start getting ready to run.

          • The Lone Gunman says:

            *they

            Thanks for the edit button, Consumerist!

            Though to be honest, I was surprised once by an ISKON street person who DID speak German. I’ve mostly switched to Japanese since.

    • DeKalb says:

      This is my strategy while walking through downtown Atlanta. Works instantly every time!

      I have been called a “stupid honky” and “cracker bitch” by the people that sit around on Woodruff Park. (Not the 99%ers, the people that normally hang out there)… all this despite being Latina. Someone told me they’re too cracked out to notice.

      • Luckie says:

        Yeah, I used to play trivia at a restaurant at 55 Park Place, and I’d walk there from 5 Points station… I’m practically albino, but I have found you can speak gibberish to these people and they will leave you alone, they don’t seem to notice. Maybe they just assume it’s some sort of Scandinavian dialect?

        I used to live right off Boulevard and Freedom Pkwy (I know, I know) and there are ALWAYS people there on the median of Freedom Pkwy. It is so annoying to have to sit at that light (WITH the stupid red light camera) late at night coming home from a bar in L5P and wonder what sort of person is going to come up to my window that night.

    • Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

      I stick with Japanese… Spanish is too well known around here, you might get caught!

  13. Sarahlara says:

    Once at the metro exit turnstile in DC someone told me they just needed 15 cents to get out of the system since her fare card didn’t have enough. I figured that was probably true since she was next to the machine that allows you to add more money on the cards, so I reached in my wallet. She said, “oh you have a lot of money! Can I have $5 instead?” I put the wallet back.

  14. eccsame says:

    Man, her bank account wouldn’t last 5 minutes in Baltimore.

    The worst is when you get stopped by someone who says “Excuse me. I’m not homeless and I’m not asking for money” and then launch into a sob story where they end up asking for money.

    Now, I don’t even listen. The second someone I don’t know starts talking to me I just say “NO” and keep walking.

    • baltimoron says:

      Haha, so true. Even if they catch me leaving a 7-11 or some place where I clearly just made a purchase, I always say “sorry, don’t have any cash, used a card”. This is usually true anyway.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      In my city, it’s always started with “sir, can I ask you a question” because supposedly then it’s not panhandling. I’ve lived my whole life in very poor cities, so I’ve gotten good at making enough eye contact to acknowledge they’re looking at me but to also make it clear that I want nothing to do with them.

      No, I will not give you money and I do not want any pills or a suck job.

      • failurate says:

        I had a guy come up to me at the gas station and ask me if I had oxy. I just said, sorry, no thanks. But really, I couldn’t tell if he was wanting to sell them to me or buy them from me.
        At that same gas station a few weeks later, a guy asked me if I wanted to buy some speakers he had in his van.
        I’ve quit going to that gas station.

      • eccsame says:

        Well, if they were offering pills and/or suck jobs, I might be more inclined to stop and listen. But no, they usually just want money.

    • madanthony says:

      I used to live in Reservoir Hill with a friend of mine. All I got were the normal please for money, but he someone got the really odd ones:

      1)an elderly woman in her Sunday best who tried to sell him a 5-gallon can of paint at 11pm.

      2)a guy who pointed to the skanky chick he was with and said “she’ll let me do whatever I want to her if I buy her a crack rock, but I don’t have any money!”

  15. El_Fez says:

    So, Liza – are you enjoying your first time in The Big City? I take it you don’t get off the Amish Farm that much?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      To be fair to Liza, though, she didn’t give the scammer her prized farm goat.

    • El-Brucio says:

      Or she could just be young and previously lived in suburbia. While I encountered plenty of change-beggars when I was younger, I didn’t encounter any scammers until I actually started working downtown as an adult full time.

      Of course, by that point my heart was a dark cinder of hate.

  16. chefboyardee says:

    A sob-story with a pitch for cash on the street is ALWAYS fake.

    (IFTFY)

  17. Bsamm09 says:

    There’s a knock on the door. I open it, and there’s this cute little girl scout-
    Nellie: And she was so adorable, with the little pig tails and all.
    Thomas: -And she says to me, “How would you like to buy some cookies?” And I said “Well, what kind do you have?” She had thin mints, graham crunchy things-
    Nellie: Raisin oatmeal.
    Thomas: -Raisin oatmeal, and I said “We’ll take a graham crunch. How much will that be?” And she looks at me and she says, “…Uh I need about tree-fitty.”
    Nellie: …Tree-fitty.
    Thomas: Well, it was about that time that I notice that girl scout was about eight stories tall and was a crustacean from the protozoic era.
    Nellie: The Loch Ness monster.
    Thomas: I said, “Dammit monster! Get off my lawn! I ain’t giving you no tree-fitty!” It said, “how about just two-fitty?” I said, “Oh, now it’s only two-fitty!! What?! Is there a sale on Loch Ness munchies or something?!”

  18. Kathy Lisiewicz says:

    My mother got caught by a slight variation of this scam over 20 years ago. Fortunately I learned from her experience, because it meant I didn’t fall for it under much more disturbing circumstances.

    I opened the door of my hard-to-find second floor apartment, grabbed my newspaper, and locked the door again. Immediately there was a knock on my door, and the woman on the other side claimed to need some cash for gas, alleging that she had a mother in the hospital. It was 6 a.m., and I had not heard anyone come up the very noisy stairs. How long had she been up there, waiting? (Yes, I called the police. Yes, she was gone by the time they arrived.)

  19. Tim says:

    Ehh. At least it was only $20. Could have been far, far worse, and my only hope is that it’s not a slippery slope for this woman to buying “plane tickets” for a man’s entire family trapped across the world.

  20. Gorbachev says:

    I generally don’t give cash to anyone who asks. “Sorry, I don’t carry cash” is usually what I say.

    However, about two decades ago while working at a retail store someone walks in, and hands a note saying he’s deaf and mute, he’s lost his jacket and he need bus money to get home.

    It was about 0 degrees outside and snowing, and the guy was walking around without a jacket. He had the deaf/mute routine down pat including sounding exactly like people who’ve been deaf since birth do.

    That’s, by far, the best scam I’ve ever been conned with. We found out the next day he’d been doing the same thing in pretty much every store on the block.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      If he’s mute, how did he talk?

      Analyzing the details general reveals the scam.

      • LMA says:

        Not trying to be cruel here, but many “mute” people can and do make what can only be described as grunting sounds that in context a hearing person can assume to be their best attempt to say “thank you.”

      • Coffee says:

        and hands a note saying he’s deaf and mute

      • Belloc says:

        Reading the post usually answers questions. He didn’t talk.

        • Rena says:

          But he “sounded like” a deaf person. What, do they breathe differently?

          • Coffee says:

            They talk differently because they can’t hear their own voices…it usually involves the back of the throat closing in a way that makes them hard to understand.

    • jadeoracle says:

      We have a guy similar to that. He has nicely printed pamphlets, on the front it says he’s deaf and mute and ask for a small donation for the pamphlet. On the back is the alphabet in sign language and some other basic signs. He does sign to you if you sign back. However beyond the obvious homelessness, the most creepy aspect is the guy always has 2 inch long, curved, freshly manicured nails in bright colors like neon pink, neon, green, or neon yellow.

  21. oldtaku says:

    We have a guy here who wanders around telling people he needs gas money to back home – another old scam. Of course he’s been doing it for a decade. But I guess you can always find new suckers.

    And then of course there’s all the ‘Gulf War Veterans’ who are ‘looking for work’ at intersections, pulling down $40/hr.

    • Belloc says:

      That’s not a scam — gas prices are just really high!

    • scoosdad says:

      I’ve had a guy give me the “out of gas, can’t get home” story once in the supermarket parking lot, so I told him I had only plastic (true), but if he followed me into the gas station next door with his car, I’d put a few gallons in it for him while I was filling up my own car, which was my next stop anyway.

      He took me up on it, but I think the come-back surprised him a little. But then he hit me up for the same thing in the same place about a week later and I reminded him I had bought him gas the previous week and if he didn’t disappear fast I was going to call the cops.

  22. AgostoBehemoth says:

    Story told to me once … Penn Station in NYC, guy in a very nice suit, very well dressed, well spoken. Had his wallet stolen, is trying to get train fare back to Boston, will pay it back…

    Several years later – same guy, nice suit, still trying to get to Boston.

    Guy probably makes more than me and you combined.

    • eccsame says:

      Or he has a habit of losing his wallet.

    • scoosdad says:

      As long as he’s not taking all those train rides to Boston and back.

    • justjoe says:

      I know that guy. Either him (or someone like him) hit me up about 10 years ago in my much more naive days. I remember him well. I actually offered to buy him his ticket to Boston, but due to my lack of knowledge of how Amtrak operates he got me when he said the next train left from Newark. I bought him a NJT ticket to Newark and he got some of my hard earned cash.

      Ran into him again a few years ago. I blew him off and then it popped back into my head. I was about ready to call a cop over but he was long gone.

  23. tungstencoil says:

    My funny, mildly-related story:

    When I lived in DC, I went to go use an ATM. Someone is at it, so I stuck behind a bit. He noticed me (big; scary; tattooed), hastily grabbed his money and walked away swiftly…. leaving his ATM card in the machine.

    It pooped it out at me, I grabbed it, and started after him. “Hey! Hey Sir!” He sped up. I looked at his card; “Hey, Mr. Rob Jones!”

    He stopped… looked… I handed him his card, and he sheepishly thanked me.

    Just funny, because I too have “city goggles” on – “No thanks.” “Sorry, I don’t carry cash.” I probably would’ve done the same thing as he did.

  24. bar_foo says:

    How does it make any sense that the guy would know he needs exactly six dollars more to pay for a tow truck but he doesn’t know *where* to get one yet?

    • Coffee says:

      It’s a good question, but sometimes the answer doesn’t really matter. Oftentimes, people like the scammer rely on the discomfort of others to do anything to just get them away. When I was younger and less assertive, a definitely remember giving money to strange people who wouldn’t stop talking to me just to leave me alone.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I’m guessing $6 is a magic number. It’s very specific but still a nominal amount and clearly isn’t rounded to a nearest interval.

      • EarthAngel says:

        I’m guessing that most people either have a $5 or a $10. If he needs $6, how many people would give him a $10 and tell him not to worry about the $4 in change?

    • Fjord says:

      That is the exact price of 6 20oz cans of Colt 45.

  25. BelleSade says:

    When I was in LAX after a 14 hour flight and very tired, I asked a guy with some sort of badge how to change terminals. He told me how, and asked for 20 dollars for Katrina victims. I was so exhausted (and stupid apparently) that I gave him 10.

  26. baltimoron says:

    Maaannn…I got these cheeseburgers man….

  27. El_Fez says:

    You know the bitch of it is? If you’ve paid attention to the Open Threads, you’ll know I’m a photographer – and occasionally I do street photography. Sometimes I’ll just snap the person and move on, but sometimes I’ll talk to them and engage them – and those opening few moments, after my “pardon me, can I ask a favor of you” – gets me SUCH a stink eye, it’s hard to try and press on.

    • Sarahlara says:

      I generally give the stink eye to anyone who takes my photo without permission anyway.

      • El_Fez says:

        Well, that’s not where I was going with the conversation, but since you brought it up – if you’re on the street without an expectation of privacy, glare at me all you want. I’m okay with that – and I’ll keep right on snapping.

        • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

          Maybe so, but I’d still consider it impolite.

        • Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

          Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you should. It’s rude to many people, and I would glare at you as well.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I HAVE AN EYE CONDITION, OKAY?!

      (I don’t, but I felt like saying that)

    • DeKalb says:

      Apparently taking a lot of pictures makes me look like a tourist, which makes people come out of nowhere and ask me either “Do you want me to take your picture?” or “Do you need directions?” I’ve never taken them up on the offer, but I assume that after they do they will ask for some change in return.

      No way am I giving you my camera, and I know this place backwards and forwards and sideways. I should be giving you directions!

  28. jp7570-1 says:

    The OP shares the blame for this based on her naivete. It may be heartless, but one should always be extremely cautious when listening to a sob story like this. And it doesn’t just happen in big cities.

    Several times I’ve been approached by people in grocery store parking lots or gas stations begging for money (and driving some decent but not broke-down cars). This has happened in suburbs and rural areas alike. People today may indeed be hurting financially, but there seems to be a greater number of panhandlers (for lack of a better word) just about everywhere.

    They may look sincere, and may even be telling the truth. Instead of giving them money, I’ve learned to give them directions to a nearby church that does tend to help people in need like this. Maybe that’s not what these “panhandlers” want, but it is what I am willing to give.

    • Wasp is like Requiem for a Dream without the cheery bits says:

      Yeah I have to agree with this post.

      If you feel bad for someone out on the street, generally saying they are hungry or homeless, get them something to eat instead of cash.

      • Coffee says:

        One time I walked by some homeless teenagers in Berkeley who were asking for money. They had a dog with them, and it was sad. I didn’t give them any money, but I did walk to the corner store and buy them a small bag of dog food. In retrospect, they could have taken it as an insult, but they were really thankful, and I felt I’d done my good deed of the day.

        • Jules Noctambule says:

          There were some Rainbow tribe kids on my street one summer, just kicking it in the vacant lot and generally being pretty chill. They’d ask for food, not money, and always shared whatever they got. I baked a batch of cookies and took it down to them one day, and when they passed back through town one of them found me and gave me a little handmade charm ‘for your kindness’. I’m generally a pretty cynical person, but seeing them enact their own version of Utopia on our street was actually a pretty heartwarming sight. And hey, better hippies in the vacant lot than some of the other options we had!

          • Wasp is like Requiem for a Dream without the cheery bits says:

            That’s a pretty cool story. I like it when things work out that way. Though it feels wrong so allow me to fix the ending for you to suit my bitter, cynical needs.

            “It turns out I was feeding cookies to Manson wanna-bees. Long story short, a lot of people died and now I have a crudely drawn swastika on my forehead. I gave those assholes cookies! >:(“

            Sorry.

  29. TXVR6 says:

    I’ve been approached with just about every kind of hard luck walk up scam. Gas stations are bad for this. You’ll see them start at one end and work their way through every person.

    Very annoying.

    • Hawaiiankine says:

      Guy in a wheel chair rolls up to me, says they wont let him on the bus with his wheel chair and needs to get a handi cab home and it will cost $20. He was all sweaty and nervous, I gave him $5. Probaly got scammed.

      • MrEvil says:

        You bet you did. There’s free or low cost public transit for the disabled. I also think that the ADA requires all regular route buses to have wheelchair seating and ramps.

    • kbsparky says:

      After being approached at a gas station, I call the manager and ask him if I should expect to be able to buy gas at his station without fear of being accosted by panhandlers and beggars.

      I explain to him that I can easily buy my gas elsewhere if he allows such activity to take place on his premises.

      That usually brings `em outside in a hurry — and the offending beggars get promptly ejected!

  30. Cat says:

    “Need $ for beer and hookers.”

    Best Panhandling Sign. Ever.

  31. kataisa says:

    “A sob-story with a pitch for cash on the street is probably fake.”

    Most people are good souls and will give cash out of their pockets for a sob story they KNOW in the back of their minds doesn’t sound right, but just in case…..

    All you can do is write it off as a life lesson and be thankful you didn’t lose more than a few bucks. Plenty of intelligent people get taken for thousands of dollars by scammers but are too embarrassed afterward to speak up (which the scammers count on so they are free to rob again).

    I take mass transit to work, and every other day there’s this same guy walking up and down the aisles before the train leaves, he’s got a sob story saying he’s short a few bucks to buy a ticket home and can anybody help him out? To people who don’t normally take that train it sounds like a legit concern and they might fork over a dollar or two, but for those of us who commute with this freeloader every day, we know better.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I’ve only seen it a few times on the DC metro where someone’s actually panhandling ON the train, versus at the station, but boy are they annoying. And there’s really nothing worse in that situation because you know there’s nowhere to go unless it’s your stop. The best I can do is pretend to not hear what they say or act like I’m listening to music.

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      Where are these people? I think I’ve seen people shell out money for “homeless” people (I’m not including people singing or dancing, or any true performers) 10 times, tops.

      I did it occasionally. Stopped when I saw some food I gave in the trash ten minutes afterward.

  32. humphrmi says:

    I don’t really think of these as scams so much as panhandlers of various levels of financial need using creativity to try to separate you from your dollars. Living near and working in Chicago, I’ve gotten used to this. The guys says he just needs $5 to catch a train to Milwaukee to visit his sick mom. The pandhandler says he’s a viet nam era vet without a job. The guy sitting in the chair with dark shades on never says he’s blind, but can clearly see when you throw him something. Some of it’s true, some of it’s not, but the best option is always to walk by them briskly and then donate money to a local charity that helps people who are down on their luck.

    • Sully111 says:

      Dont forget the lady who sits in her own urine and asks for money to buy food for her Kitty. Most likely true because she is holding a kitty.

      Yeah you see some messed up stuff in the big city’s.

      Just say NO and keep walking. If the guilt gets to you make a donation to a local shelter and tell the next panhandler to find a shelter. Now you have helped them indirectly. No Guilt

      • humphrmi says:

        On the other hand, there are good guys too. One guy in Chicago walks around the loop all day with his dog. I see him stop and talk to other panhandlers and homeless people. I think he’s getting a feel for whether they are genuine or not, because sometimes he lets them pet his dog (a little thing, not sure of the breed) and sometimes he doesn’t. And he NEVER asks anyone for money. Yet folks walk by who know him, discretely slip bills into his hand. He seems to be a positive influence on the streets and never asks so I’ve slipped him a few bills here and there. Never got to pet his dog though :(

  33. spottymax says:

    My wife and I stopped making trips to downtown Atlanta because the panhandling was so aggressive. On one of our first trips, my wife was waiting for me outside of a restaurant while I was paying the bill. By the time I got out there, she had been cornered by a person asking for $20 to help pay for a medical bill for his mother. (We heard similar lines from 3 other person walking the 3 blocks back to our hotel.) After getting hit up repeatedly for money, including one indignant panhandler who thought he deserved money for holding a door open, I ask the hotel staff. They said that, yes, it was a problem and, no, the police weren’t going to do anything about it. After a couple of more trips, we had enough and haven’t been back in about 3 years.

    • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

      I work near Centennial Park. It’s not so bad now. I dunno why the hotel said the police wouldn’t do anything about them; I remember Shirley Franklin’s big initiative to remove most of them from the Tourist Triangle. Weird. But yeah, I usually just ignore them. Haven’t had any get aggressive.

  34. IgnoramusEtIgnorabimus says:

    Had similar thing pulled on me, should have seen the woman’s face when the complimentary idot truck came with cpd for rear cover and the gas tank was suddenly not so empty…. The trick is always to err to the side of being too helpful but in the wrong direction, we have some of the healthiest bums in town thanks to my give a vet an apple program :) best of all, the real vets are so grateful for that apple on a hot summer day and if the bum dumps it you no longer feel bad the next time around

  35. steve says:

    I listen until they say they need money or if it’s a long drawn out story I ask them if they are asking for money. Then I just say I’m sorry but I don’t carry cash and walk away.

    • humphrmi says:

      Just this weekend, I had the same incident. A guy with a cane was standing in the middle of a McDonald’s parking lot, like he owned the damn place. Every car that drove by, he would yell “Sir, can I talk to you?” at them. Then if you slowed down, he’d start with “I have a question for you…” The slow, drawn out story is part of the ploy, to get you invested in his sad story so you won’t just drive away (or walk away, if on foot) when he finally gets to the money line. I just keep walking, or keep driving. If they can’t make their pitch to me in the time it takes me to walk by them, then they aren’t very good at it.

  36. evilpete says:

    There is someone around here that does that, they say their wife/mom etc. was taken to the hospital and they need cab fare. The person has hit me up 6 times in the the 12 years, when I remind them that I have heard this before they back away *fast* denying everything….

  37. ToddMU03 says:

    Don’t think of it as a scam. Think of it as an idiot tax.

  38. Dallas_shopper says:

    Sorry to blame the victim, but people still fall for this one? Really? REALLY?

  39. savvy9999 says:

    I got taken many years ago by the knocking on my door late at night with a “my baby is in the car a couple of blocks over and she’s hungry and I just need a couple of bucks to buy formula…” scam.

    Only once though, because the dumbass (not me) knocked on my door again the next night, with the same exact line. At that point I asked WTF he was doing here, I gave him $5 yesterday, didn’t he buy any formular? At that point he ran away.

  40. Buckus says:

    This is why I don’t give money to anyone who approaches me on the street. If I want to donate, I’ll do it to a local charity. There are programs in place for those who truly need assistance; granted, Wall Street is trying to undo all those programs as fast as possible so they can get the loot, but for now, they are in place.

    • Thespian says:

      So, Evil Wall Street is conspiring to steal money from the homeless? Well, I haven’t heard that one before now — points to you for originality, at least.

  41. JeremieNX says:

    I am surprised no one from Portland Ore has chimed in yet. We are a destination resort for the bums and “spangers”.

    I take the train to and from work every day and because we have such loose *cough* fare enforcement, these people manage to literally camp on trains. I once saw one that hauled aboard 2 shopping carts full, 2 duffle bags, and 2 large dogs. I was stunned.

  42. SugarMag says:

    when a stranger asks me for money, I usually respond with , “Oh, I dont have any, I was hoping you would give me some but I was embarrassed to ask…”

  43. Sully111 says:

    Everybody has a first time scam. Pick on somebody who lives in the city the scammers dont have a chance. LIve in the sticks visiting the city and the scammers might have a 50/50 shot at getting money.

    I got scammed on the old shell game riding the “L” in Chicago when I was back in college. Dude had an accomplice. The accomplice played and won $20. I played and Lost $20. Learned my lesson real quick. Got to see a pretty cool magic trick though. I have to tip my hat to the guy because to this day I have no idea where that little ball went. I’ll never find out because I won’t ever play again. I’ll just have to stick to watching Penn and Teller.

  44. backinpgh says:

    In other news, “gullible” is written on the ceiling…

  45. tasiann says:

    Duh lady, what did you expect?!!

    Only once in a great while do you find someone truly in need who’s honestly asking for help.
    I had one such occasion about 2 years ago now.
    I was leaving an Bel-Air store and saw a homeless-looking lady waiting in the parking lot by the cars, clearly she was scouting for people to hit up. She spotted me and immediately looked hopeful (I am a young-ish female, was alone, usually considered to be an easy mark by the public).
    She called to me while scurrying over, “Hey honey, do you have $2 so I can go buy some chicken inside the store?” I knew the store did in fact sell $2 chicken meals, but provided my standard default response: “Sorry, ma’am, I only have my card on me, no cash”.
    This usually ends the conversation.
    However, this lady then replied: “Well, could you use your card to buy me some $2 chicken then?”.
    I was BLOWN AWAY. She was seriously just hungry. I did not expect that at all.
    I said “sure, wait here”, went in and used my card to buy the $2 chicken deal (2 pieces and a roll) in the store.
    When I returned to the woman, she was waiting for me, and was so grateful for the hot chicken meal. She thanked me and wandered off happily munching her warm meal.
    Still to this day I’m surprised she really wanted food and not booze money.
    Or does that say more about me and the stereotypes in my head?
    Sigh.

    I also was stopped outside a WalMart once where a man was sitting with 2 kids on a blanket, with a sign that said the standard “Hungry Kids, Please Help”. I was so pissed he’d use his kids that way (ages 5 and 7 maybe, so old enough to know!). He had the nerve to ask me as I walked by, “Excuse me, miss, could you help me feed my children?”. I stopped, about to give him an earful, but then realized the poor kids squirming at my feet. Instead I leaned down and spoke to them directly. “Hey there, are you guys hungry?” I asked them. They looked scared to respond, peeking at their dad, who looked pretty annoyed. “Would you like some food?” I tried to ask them again. Without looking back at dad, the little boy quietly said Yes and nodded his head at me. “Ok, hang on!” I said. I went back inside to the McDonalds in the WalMart, bought two happy meals for the kids, and happily delivered them to the kids on their blanket outside. I also stood there a second to be sure Dad wasn’t going to just toss the food. I had enough time to see the amazed kids tear into the Happy Meals and begin shoving food into their mouths before I walked off, and enough time to see the super dirty look the Dad was giving me.
    I’m sorry– did I ruin your plans to buy booze and use your children as tools of manipulation? Gee, hope your kids enjoy their full tummies you jerk!

    • Coffee says:

      I used to hit up a local pizza place late at night when I was in college, and one night, there was a homeless guy outside asking for money for pizza. I said no and continued in. I ordered a slice (huge servings), but because they were about to close, they asked me if I wanted another. I happily took it and walked outside…

      Me: Hey, they gave me a free slice of pizza. Would you like it?
      Homeless guy: What kind is it?
      Me: Combo.
      Homeless Guy: No thanks.

      It’s little incidents like that that can really make a person feel like people asking for money are all liars and cons.

      • Belloc says:

        To be fair, I wouldn’t bother eating a slice of combo pizza, either.

        • Coffee says:

          To quote what my mom always said to me growing up, “When you’re hungry, you’ll eat.”

          • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

            Yes. I would take it and pick off the mushrooms if it had any, just because I absolutely loathe them. But I would still take it.

    • humphrmi says:

      That’s a great story. I saw almost the exact same thing happen near Chicago Union Station where a guy was holding a sign about his hungry kid. Another guy ran into the station, bought a quarter pounder meal and a cheeseburger kids meal, came back out, handed it to them, and ran off.

      No longer needing to beg, the father put away his sign, and he and his kid walked around the corner to a bench to eat their meal. The kid’s face looked like he had just gotten a Christmas present. Living near and working in Chicago, I’ve become pretty jaded of panhandlers, but I must admit that brought a tear to my eyes.

  46. Ihmhi says:

    I once had a man approach me late at night and say he needed money to catch a bus. He said that he used to work as a prison guard and flashed an ID – you know, the whole flip it open quickly and close it trick. Thing is, it was slow enough for me to see his picture and “FORMER INMATE” on the card.

    I told him I didn’t carry any cash, just an ATM card. “Oh, there’s an ATM right over there,” he says. I turned him down and walked away.

    Pretty much anyone who lives in a major city is hit with these hard luck scams. They’re just like spam – if they didn’t work, they wouldn’t be used at all. The 5% of idiots who fall for them leave the rest of us to get constantly harassed by these people.

  47. ospreyguy says:

    I give stuff not cash. If someone needs gas i put gas in their car. Food, we hit mcdonalds. Most take it but some don’t and just wonder off.

    I figure in the end they were probably scamming for cash but in most cases they look half starved anyway so what’s it hurt to feed ‘em.

    Just be decent.

  48. samonela says:

    Once had a guy stop me in the WalMart parking lot (now there’s a hot bed for pan handling!) and ask if I could spare a couple of dollars so he could get some gas and make it back to his hotel.

    He had all the details of his story all plotted out perfectly….and it was the details that were his ultimate downfall:

    Me: How far do you have to go?

    Guy: Just far enough to get to my hotel and then I have a friend that will be meeting me in the morning and he’s gonna help me out and fill up my tank.

    Me: Nice friend! Where’s your hotel?

    Guy: The Motel 6 on Victoria Blvd. (this is about 5 miles from the WalMart)

    Me: Well how much do you have so far?

    Guy: Well a lady was nice enough to give me $2. Anything you can spare will help.

    Me: What kind of car do you have?

    Guy: It’s a Honda Accord. Look I get why you are asking all these questions and I promise you I am not a pan handler and I will even show you my car if you want to see it…

    Me: No I am asking because I think you may already have enough…lets see, you have a Honda Accord. If it’s a 4 cylinder it probably gets at least 20 miles per gallon in the city. If you use the $2 that the woman gave you, that will buy you about half a gallon of gas. Half a gallon of gas can take you maybe 10 miles. If your car still starts and runs, I am willing to bet you have at least a half gallon of reserve still left in there. The hotel you are staying at is 4 miles away. With what you have already collected, you have more than enough gas to get to your hotel. Then your super nice friend will meet you in the morning and fill the tank up for you. I would suggest the Chevron that is 2 blocks away from your hotel so you don’t have to drive so far.

    Guy: Hey you know what man, if you don’t want to help me out, just say so! You don’t have to be a jerk about it!!

    Me: I just showed you that you are good to go! You don’t even need my help. Besides, the longer you are here talking to me, the more people you can’t sucker any more money from.

    He then had some colorful words about compassion and human rights and some other bs that he shouted as he walked away.

    That felt good.

    • samonela says:

      Do’h! No edit button…but the hotel was indeed 4 miles away…why would they put the 4 so close to the 5 on a keyboard!?

  49. vivalakellye says:

    This is why I only carry debit and credit cards.

  50. Aeirlys says:

    When I first started working for my current employer, I would get approached at the gas station near my office about once a week by a guy who always seemed to need a few dollars for the bus fare to go visit his sick kids. I called him on it a couple times and he stopped approaching me, but I still see him working the same story at the same location. He just knows I’m a regular and avoids me now.

  51. May contain snark says:

    One time I had a guy with a gas can ask me for gas money because he had run out and his pregnant wife and 3 kids were waiting in the car (in 110o heat). Instead of giving him money, I told him I would use my card to pay for him to fill up his gas can. His response was “F*CK YOU!!!

  52. patty says:

    I use to attend University of Baltimore. Yes there were lots of panhandlers and because it was college it seemed like there were more. One night I got the sob story and told the guy, sorry no funds. A week later the same guy, same story, I called him on it. He was not a happy camper. Yes every class started with don’t leave a GPS on your window, the guy who hobbles around is a panhandler, yada yada yada.

    And because I use to live in Baltimore
    One Easter Sunday, there is this guy walking up and down the street with “the sign” and I am watching him. He looks beaten up, rough, rail thin. I go to in-laws and on the way back see the same guy. I watch him walk across the street and he does something strange, he bends down by a car, and pulls out these absolutely white high end sneakers. I was stunned.

    Call me Jaded.

  53. balderdashed says:

    The only “sympathy on the street” scam that ever worked on me involved a frail-looking, shabbily-dressed young woman, who approached me in a parking lot asking for money to buy groceries to feed her hungry children. I was on my first date with a very attractive woman, who I naturally wanted to impress with my kindness and generosity. So I opened my wallet and immediately handed the panhandler a wad of cash. I probably wouldn’t have given her a dime, had it not been for my intense desire to score with my date later that night, and the feeling that my donation might help my cause. It didn’t. But I suspect the panhandler might have tried this scheme before — approaching “vulnerable” guys on their way to upscale restaurants, who are accompanied by dates they need to impress. If only I’d been dating an Ann-Coulter-type, instead of a liberal. Perhaps I could have just given the panhandler a lecture about the virtues self-reliance, and saved a few bucks.

    • SisterMaryPollyEsther says:

      I hope you scored a 2nd date out of that move. I personally would’ve thought you were naive, but I’m a hardass.

    • evilpete says:

      I look at my date or a clue on what they want, cause if you have over you cash you are a pushover and of you don’t your heartless.

  54. gerrylum says:

    I think everyone needs to be the victim of one of these scams at least once. It’d be nice if we could learn the easy way, but sometimes learning the hard way is the best way to learn.

  55. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    My husband is a truck driver. He gets hit up all the time with “hey bud, I need a few dollars for a sandwich”. He always says, OK, I’ll buy you a sandwich…what do you want? Once in a blue moon will the person accept the sandwich. Most of the time, they just want money for drugs or alcohol. It’s sad, because when someone truly needs help, and they ask, so many scammers have ruined things before them.

    • Coffee says:

      Years ago, San Francisco offered a scrip program where people could buy scrip and give it to the homeless in lieu of money. The scrip could not be used on alcohol or cigarettes. My father, who is a generous man, bought some and tried to give it to people begging for money. He was taken aback when the first few he tried to give it to chewed him out, because how dare he dictate what they did with the money he gave them. I don’t believe that particular program was long for the world.

  56. shepd says:

    The more eventful the story, the more likely it’s a scam. My favorite was someone at night begging for $20 for cab fare so he could get to (insert nearby city) because (insert unfortunate event). As a user of the bus at the time (who also drove), I pointed out he could get there on the bus, and that the buses were still running every 15 minutes at a street less than a 20 minute walk away (no, he wasn’t handicapped, except perhaps mentally).

    For some reason he wasn’t interested in a free bus ticket (had those in my wallet, too). Nope, just $20 for a cab. I wonder if some fool fell for it.

    I’d offer to sit in the car this person needs towed so we can use my CAA card for a “free” tow (the year’s nearly over and a still have 5 remaining, so no skin off my back), assuming he can prove ownership of it.

  57. toodarnloud says:

    Somewhere in there I realized I’m $50,000 in student loan and credit card debt, which is likely way more in debt than the person asking for spare change. I politely say “not today” and move along, not bothering to listen to the whole (lying) story.

    • toodarnloud says:

      Also, perhaps I’m a little too trusting, but I’ve given a couple of people a ride that asked for it. During the second such time, the guy jumped into the whole “I need $20″ bit. As soon as he realized he wasn’t going to get any money from me, he asked to be let out of the car.

      He was blind, so I thought it was a little strange since he would have no way of knowing where he was, but I had to oblige.

  58. Outrun1986 says:

    As far as the coat thing, if you really do need a coat there are handout places around here, so if I see someone relatively close to one of these places then I know its a scam because if they really needed a coat and were homeless in the freezing weather then they would go to one of these places to get one. I know for sure there is at least one church here that will give coats to needy people and every winter there is a coat drive here for the needy. There is help here for basically any kind of need if you are truly needy so its obvious to recognize scams. It would be great if someone started referring people asking for things to these organizations instead of actually giving them handouts immediately.

    Panhandling is not a problem here but it has been in the past, it just depends on when someone comes into town or not and tries it. A few years ago there was a panhandler here and my mom was stopped by the same guy a couple times, both in store parking lots, she never gave him any money but she recognized him by the second time. The good thing about store parking lots is you can just go into the store and report it, and in most cases the store will try to get the person removed since having a panhandler there is bad for business.

    Its also illegal here and the police will enforce it since we do not see panhandlers all that often like a big city does. In a big city its a very big problem since there are so many panhandlers and its almost impossible to get them all while still focusing on crimes that may be of more importance.

    I really can’t believe people still fall for this crap.

  59. LoadStar says:

    What tow truck costs $6?

    I’m not even from a big city, and I know better than to stop or even slow down for these sob stories.

  60. Saskiatas says:

    I’m from a small town and had to get educated on the scams by a coworker when we started working on a project in Baltimore. Where I’m from, we do help people because the chances are that they really need it. In Baltimore I always felt guilty walking by so I finally kept a stash of power bars with me to hand out (to people asking for money for food) instead.

  61. lilspooky says:

    Give care not cash is my motto.

    I live in downtown SF, scammers are a norm here. Never give out cash. I will give out food. I once had a guy as for money for food. I asked if he wanted an apple? He said he was diabetic! mmmmm, pretty sure diabetics can eat apples!

    • whylime says:

      I’m from San Francisco, and one time a homeless man came up to my friend asking for money so he can buy food. My friend offered to buy him a sandwich, which the homeless man accepted. They walked over to the nearest McDonalds, and my friend orders him a Big Mac or something. He pulled out a $5 bill from his wallet, and right as he was about to hand it to the cashier, the homeless guy reached out, grabs the $5, and booked it out of there. My friend doesn’t offer to buy food for homeless people anymore.

  62. humphrmi says:

    Boy, I wish I had posted this story earlier. Oh well.

    Used to manage a Domino’s Pizza in Seattle, in an area frequented by panhandlers. They’d come in all the time with a sad story and ask for free pizza. This store was always shorthanded, and it was the ’80’s back when you didn’t have to get a person’s DNA sample to hire them. So I’d offer to hire them. They could clean up in back, put on a spare uniform I kept, and then work the phones or even just take walk-in orders for me, and I’d pay them cash.

    Not one took me up on it.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      This is usually the case. My coworker’s husband has his own truck repair business. He was out on a job working on a truck at the breakdown site, and a man asked him for $100. So, business guy said you can work for me today and I’ll give you $100 in cash. Guy’s response? Oh no, I can’t do that…and walked away.

  63. Rachacha says:

    Several years ago, a guy approached us in Old Town Alexandria saying that he hat just been released from prison, they put him on a bus and dropped him off here, he just needed a few dollars to get home to see his kid that he had not seen for a couple of years.

    Me: Yeah, that sucks that they put you on a bus and dropped you off in one of the most exclusive parts of the DC Metro area, what are the odds of that, you, a convict, being dropped off in an exclusive tourist area. Sorry

  64. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    There’s a woman who trolls the parking lot at the local gourmet market. She comes on Fridays and Saturdays and says she needs gas money to get home. Last time, my husband was right there and I yelled, “Hey honey, that lady that was here last time ran out of gas AGAIN. What awful luck she has.” She hauled ass and drove off. I was lol so hard.

  65. SisterMaryPollyEsther says:

    Here’s what I’ve heard over the years:
    Need X number of dollars to get a bus/train/light rail ticket to (insert city name here)
    Need X number of dollars to get the boot off my car (Really? That works for you?)
    Need X number of dollars because I ran out of gas and I have a job interview in (insert City name here)

    A simple “Sorry, can’t help” typically works.

  66. dourdan says:

    at least she has the sense to ask for 6.00 dollars. when my parents were visiting me in wisconsin a van with me and all my inlaws dropped them off at their hotel. we were backing out fo the space, when we saw a guy approached my dad with –
    “my car broke down, I’m not from here, can i borrow 200 dollars? I’m really in a bad place.” PLUS- “I can pay you back, you can just give me your address to send the money to.”

    my mother in law slammed on the horn sending the guy running. (since witnesses are bad.)

    but yeah. if you are a scammer. have the decency to ask for a reasonable amount.

  67. SteveinOhio says:

    I’ve been running into the same guy for years who claims he ran out of gas and his kids are with him and all he needs is a few bucks for a gallon of gas to get back home.

    Never give anyone cash. They are always lying. Always. I have offered to give material assistance numerous times (Buying food or gas for them). They never seem interested in that form of help, even if that is precisely what they claim to want the money for.

  68. 451.6 says:

    I feel for her, even though I think that was pretty dumb. There’s nothing wrong with you if your first instinct is to be nice. But you have to be smart about it and protect yourself. Someone approached me the other day asking for money for the bus fare. I offered to buy her a bus pass and she looked really offended. I heard her giving people the same story the next day. I’ll offer to by someone a sandwich or a drink before I’d ever give them the change in my pocket, even though the sandwich is more expensive. If it’s a “charity,” tell them you’re in a hurry, but you’d be willing to write a check for a tax-exempt donation and ask for a card. I grew up in DC and there are legit organizations that are out on street corners petitioning, etc. This usually makes the fakers back off. Once the sun starts setting, even Jesus gets the brush-off.

    The first words out of your mouth in this sort of situation should be “Oh, I’m so sorry! I’ll call the police for you!” Better yet, be more careful and make sure you’re never in a position to be stopped. If someone’s heading for you, give them a WIDE berth.

  69. BewareofZealots says:

    OK, which is more annoying?

    The scam/bums with stories or the flippers in Vegas?

    No competition! The Mexicans in Vegas.

    Flliiipppp, Fllliiippp, Fliiipppp

    Take a card? 3,000,000 nude women photos littering the street.

    • Coffee says:

      When I was 14 and in Vegas for the first time, the flippers were my favorite part of the whole vacation. FOR GOD’S SAKE, LEAVE THE FLIPPERS ALONE! THINK OF THE 14-YEAR-OLDS!

  70. EarthAngel says:

    A few years ago, a reported in Salt Lake watched a panhandler for a while. She had her routine down perfectly. She was young and people wanted to help her get home. Mike Headrick followed her home and pretty much tattled on her. But her mother knew what she was doing.

    She made about $50 an hour and had no other responsibilities. I wonder what she spent all of her hard earned money on.

    Here’s a link to the story: http://www.truckstopusa.com/forums/showthread.php?21218-Panhandler-caught

  71. EarthAngel says:

    I’m guessing that most people either have a $5 or a $10. If he needs $6, how many people would give him a $10 and tell him not to worry about the $4 in change?

  72. autonym says:

    My wife just dropped me off at work here and I left my briefcase in the trunk, with my phone and access badge. I need $2 for the bus back home.

  73. MaytagRepairman says:

    First time I got hit up was in a book store in the suburbs. An older gentleman with a cane was trying to tell me his story about how he had been writing a book, traveling the country, and yadda yadda yadda. He needed money to get his stuff released from a locker at a hostel downtown. It then clicked on me. I had heard that same scam many many years ago as a kid on either Adam-12 or Dragnet reruns.

  74. Dalsnsetters says:

    I had a panhandler come up to me one time and try to bum cigarettes. I had just left a store after purchasing a carton of cigarettes. He comes up and says, “You have any extra cigarettes?” I said, “No.” He gave me an incredulous look and said, “You have a whole carton!” and I said “Yes, but none of those are extras. I intend to smoke every single one of them” and continued on my way to my car.

    /I don’t smoke any more so please don’t get on the whole “You shouldn’t smoke anyways!” bandwagon!

  75. nishioka says:

    I actually got stopped at a fast food place one night in downtown Kansas City. After I got the pitch I offered to buy the dude a sandwich and he just left. Either he didn’t need the money, wasn’t hungry, or wasn’t beneath turning down fast food. Who knows.

  76. docshar says:

    I’m about as gullible as they come, and I do give money to the charities I support, but I *never* give money to anyone on the street. Having said that, I have bought food for people who said they needed money to buy food. Sometimes when I offer food they’re not interested and probably just scammers, but not always. On another note, this story reminded me of one from way, way back when I was a Peace Corps volunteer. There was a woman begging with her young child every day, and a group of volunteers wanted to help her so they found a job for her. She wasn’t interested; she made much more money begging.

  77. jim says:

    I act like I don’t hear them, and move on. Problem solved.

  78. whylime says:

    I’m from San Francisco, and one time a homeless man came up to my friend asking for money so he can buy food. My friend offered to buy him a sandwich, which the homeless man accepted. They walked over to the nearest McDonalds, and my friend orders him a Big Mac or something. He pulled out a $5 bill from his wallet, and right as he was about to hand it to the cashier, the homeless guy reached out, grabs the $5, and booked it out of there. My friend doesn’t offer to buy food for homeless people anymore.

  79. ITDEFX says:

    i’ve seen this happen before…more of the give you the note to read types which usually ask for money since they don’t speak english and they need money for the train. Sometimes it’s a woman, other times its a father and son tag team.

  80. ancientone567 says:

    I learned this kind of stuff a long time ago. If I want to give I volunteer time. It is the only way to make sure. I never give anything no matter what the story is. The con man is using street smarts and so must you. My favorite is I say I never carry cash and I don’t. Also learn some self defense.

  81. deadbirds says:

    I’m so sorry but hasn’t this women left her house in the last decade? Has anyone not been exposed to one of these scams yet? I honestly feel that if someone is walking around with cash in their wallet and clueless enough to fall for this, they deserve to get scammed! Maybe the next time a stranger walks up with a sob story she will at least pause to think before opening up her wallet.

  82. Carlee says:

    Depending on my mood (and location/time of day), I either ignore the person or say sorry (or shake my head) but I continue walking at a brisk pace. I’ve had a couple of beggars (wait, is that an antiquated term?) tell me not to be sorry.

    Having lived near Los Angeles for most of my life, I think I always “knew”, even as a little kid, not to believe someone’s sob story. And I’ve watched too many Criminal Minds, Without a Trace, etc, episodes to know not to talk to strangers!

    For what it’s worth, I do feel bad (sometimes) for these people who are out there panhandling. Maybe some of them are just deadbeats who don’t want to earn a living, but for others, they may have mental illnesses or other issues that prevent them from being able to move off the streets. But I can’t help them – I mean, I could give them food (like if we have leftovers from a meeting) but who do I give them to? Do I just leave it on the bus bench and hope I don’t get ticketed for littering? My whole contribution to the homeless is that I generally don’t pick up coins off the floor – I figure I’ll leave it for someone who needs it more. (I know – it’s not much of a charitable gesture).

    I remember one winter day, seeing this nicely dressed college student, digging around the trashcans. I couldn’t understand what a college student would be doing scrounging for food – until I realized that she was LEAVING burritos wrapped in aluminum foil around the rim of the trash can.

  83. ohhhh says:

    A friend of mine that lives in DC has met a man that claims he needs money to get to a bail hearing, this man has updated papers with current dates every couple of days.

  84. Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

    This is definently a case of “Been there, done that.” If you want a textbook example of a true scammer that lurked our streets about 9 years ago, I suggest Googling “shaky lady.” When I read this post, it immediately reminded me of our Shaky Lady. Who knows where she’s pulling off this scam now, but before the media got wind of it, she was raking serious coin around here.

  85. Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

    I was just about to post that very sentence. Despite our government’s best efforts to force-feed French on we non-Quebecker Canadians, it has had little effect. Hardly anyone in Toronto speaks the language, despite the many cable channels en français you’re forced to have around here. many of which paid for by our tax dollars.

  86. evilpete says:

    In the San Francisco Bay are their is a person called “Randi Banks” that rides the local BART train system, she rolls in in a wheel chair and declare she need money for her medication co-pay.

    she has been at this for years and it is reported she has no need for the wheel chair.

    google “Randi Banks BART” for her info.

  87. mrfantomhawk says:

    I had a guy come up to me at a gas station asking me to fill up a small tank, I told him I only had credit but i’d put a gallon in his tank for him, he got mad and walked off to ask someone else for cash.

    Another time A guy in his 30’s said he was a coach for a teens traveling soccer team and he missed the team bus that went to the airport, and needed a few bucks to get a bus to the airport. This was at 12 (when no busses were running) at night in the downtown club district of Fort Lauderdale. I said…The airport is like….2 miles down that road, your a soccer coach, you can walk it.

  88. notanignoramus says:

    I busted a guy who asked me twice in two weeks for the same amount of money for the same reason. He went so low as to bring his two young children along – said he ran out of gas trying to get them to his wife’s house for her visitation rights. The second time he came around I said, “You’re the same guy as last week. Don’t tell me you’re stupid enough to run out of gas a second time!” Before I finished my sentence, he turned around and hurried off with the kids. I never saw him there again.

  89. RanChan03 says:

    I ran into something similar like this in dallas. Man, woman, and child combo. They were asking me for gas and he brought up his daughter. I immediately said no to this. The attendant inside asked me if i was tricked by them, i told her no, and she said good, they’ve gotten 10 others today.

  90. OMG_BECKY says:

    I never give money to beggars for this very reason.

  91. Jeff says: "WTF could you have been thinking?" says:

    I got cussed out by a hooker in Detroit one time while waiting for my limo customers who were at a football game. She just needed $2.00 for something to eat. I reached over on the seat and grabbed my just-purchased bag of White Castles and offered to share with her. I was a dirty no-good so-and-so, etc. I threw it in drive and flipped her off as I squealed the tires leaving.

  92. newmie says:

    I once had a guy at Grand Central station ask me for a couple dollars to buy a bus ticket. He was a little short. I told him sure, we’ll just go to the ticket window and you can give the man your money and I will pay the difference.

    Oddly, he wasn’t so interested in going anywhere after that.

  93. newmie says:

    I once had a guy at Grand Central station ask me for a couple dollars to buy a bus ticket. He was a little short. I told him sure, we’ll just go to the ticket window and you can give the man your money and I will pay the difference.

    Oddly, he wasn’t so interested in going anywhere after that.

  94. Nick Wright says:

    Well, there’s always this tactic:

    http://theidlestate.com/?webcomic_post=13-compassion

  95. xamarshahx says:

    We once got, “I am a Knicks season ticket holder and need 20 dollars for gas. I will mail you two tickets if you can help me.” When we said no and rolled up the windows, he walked off cursing at us and saying how NYC sucks, blah, blah

  96. zibby says:

    Sometimes you just have to laugh and figure you’ve learned something. Early on in my city days, I had a guy hit me up for like $3-4 with some ridiculous story…when I ran across him again a couple weeks later, the same “emergency” was still happening. No money that time, and no more money for people asking for it on the street, ever. That first dude has saved me a bundle.

  97. jeffjohnvol says:

    Holy crap, is this post even necessary? These scams have been going on for years. I can’t believe its not public knowledge at this point.

  98. bks33691 says:

    I have also been scammed by someone that needed help “because his truck broke down”. I chalked it up to my own good nature. BUT, I have also bought gas for a motorist stranded at the gas station, and she was genuinely appreciative. It’s really hard to tell the difference sometimes, but it made me more willing to help buy food or gas or whatever if the person needs it. I think it’s a bit of a shame that people feel like everyone is lying, or that no one that is asking for help genuinely needs it.

  99. Mr. Spy says:

    Okay guys and gals, be careful. Pull out your wallet, and bam, there goes all your money, credit cards etc. I really just need $1 is really, thanks sucker.
    Pull out your cell phone to give a snarky, okay, I’ll call the police for you. Wham, there goes your cell phone.
    Buy them a sandwich is super nice, but also saving them $5 for drugs. You are still enabling them.
    I quite like the guy above who said that he just replies, Sorry…. until they leave. I prefer the “I don’t carry cash” option because I don’t.

  100. DragonThermo says:

    I see nothing wrong with what those crooks did. They are no different than the Occupy Wall Street goons. They have no jobs. They have no interest in getting a job. They hate everyone who does have a job and earns more than them. They just want a handout from the government, which in turn uses its police powers to take it from the hard-working people with income. These crooks just cut out the middleman and shook down the OP themselves.

  101. HighontheHill says:

    The last time I gave a stranger anything was several years ago when on a rainy dreary November day I am pulling into a strip-mall and see a man who looked very much like my father standing in the median strip holding a “will work for food” sign. His pathetic look as he stood dripping in the cold rain touched a cord with me so I pulled into the Wendy’s and purchased him a large value meal with hot coffee. I pulled back around and timed the light so as to pull next to him. I handed him the food and drink which he quickly grabbed and tossed into the bushes next to him and said “why couldn’t you just give me money your gonna mess this up if they see the food” ostensibly referring to the traffic behind me.

    I pulled away irritated to find that when he grabbed the food from me he left a large shit smear on my forearm.

    I will never, ever, ever give anyone (begging on the street) anything again.

  102. docshar says:

    I see where you’re coming from, and I used to think the same way about the $5 going to pay for drugs if I buy them food. Then I spent several years working with addicts. I guarantee you, if they need a fix, they will do whatever it takes to get the money for their drugs. Maybe it’s something that’s really dangerous for them, like sex work. Maybe it’s something that’s dangerous for the general public, like robbery or carjacking. So now I figure even if the $5 goes towards drugs, they’d have gotten those drugs anyway, and maybe they won’t do that crime to get the money.

  103. Hawkeye says:

    I remember a college age kid outside Penn Station who had the elaborate sob story to solicit money from people (he had to get back to Albany to see his sick Mother, his wallet was stolen, only needed three more dollars to buy a ticket) the problem is he tried it on me every morning I walked by him on the way to work. I guess he needed a first class plane ticket.

  104. ridgerat says:

    Hmmm….hey, MY mom is also having a stroke. Can you all please deposit $6 into my PayPal account? (yeah…..stroke….that’s the ticket)

  105. AtlantaCPA says:

    Has anyone ever heard of this one: I had a guy come up to me in a fast food parking lot and say “I just got out of jail today [and showed me a "correctional facility ID"] and need money for…”? I mean did he think that the jail ID would make me say “OK well obviously you really did get out of jail today so here you go!” BTW he was also driving a very nice new pickup truck. Needless to say I said no.

  106. smhatter says:

    I have only ever given out cash to a begger once. Me and 4 friends just came out of a movie around 10pm. Two college age guys came up to us asking if we had any cash for fuel, because they were headed to Idaho, and ran out. I believe I gave them $6 (which is all I had, I usually don’t carry any cash).

    Admittedly, it creeped me out a bit (late night, not a ton of people around), but I did it based on a few things:

    1. It was in Utah, and these kinds of things turning into attacks aren’t super common
    2. I figured you would have to be kind of stupid to approach a small crowd with the idea of attacking anyone.
    3. It was only $6
    4. When we walked away, I was glancing back every few seconds until we got to our car, and I had my hand by my side-arm, so I wasn’t very concerned

    Outside of those circumstances, I think I would have just moved away quickly.

  107. almund says:

    It only sucks when you actually need help… I was in a situation when I lost my wallet, money and all my documents (left it in cab) and I was at a railway station without anything in a city I didn’t know. I desperately needed to make a phone call (this was before cell phones were common) and was trying to ask people for change to make a call… and nobody helped out. My luck was that the cab returned after my colleague who was still sitting in the cab realized that I left all my stuff in there.