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jellyfish3232's avatar

Do you think that this was a scam?

Asked by jellyfish3232 (1849points) April 30th, 2011

Okay, I’ve been in Washington DC for the past few days on a school trip. However, when we were eating lunch outside of the Air and Space Museum, a man approached our school group and asked for donations to a “homeless charity”. He told us that we would get a free newspaper if we donated. (By the way, the teachers didn’t notice any of this while it was going on) Out of guilt, I gave him two dollars and got the paper. Here’s why I think it may have been a scam. Apparently, in the museum, there were free newspapers… The kind that he gave us. He also told another group of students that he was working for a soup kitchen, not a homeless shelter. I think that the final bit of evidence was when a suspicious student asked him what charity he was working for, and he said “some”.

What do you think? Did I give two dollars to a shelter/soup kitchen, or did I give two dollars to a con artist who takes advantage of children?

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15 Answers

optimisticpessimist's avatar

I think you already know the answer to that question. Two dollars is a cheap price to pay to learn the lesson of asking the right questions. Which charity are you collecting donations for? How long as the charity been around? What work does the charity do? Just to name a few.

KateTheGreat's avatar

I believe that it was a scam. Either that, or the man could have been homeless himself, so he had to go to drastic measures to get money.

Bagardbilla's avatar

I believe the man probably did not lie!
He was quite possibly ‘homeless’ and needed ‘charity’, and you did get a free paper… for $2
Welcome to the world of adulthood!
consider this to be a very valuable lesson learned for a fraction of the cost! If you do, Son… you already more then broke even.

zenvelo's avatar

I wouldn’t call him a con artist, just a homeless person who figured out a way to get some cash without absolutely begging or pan handling.

marinelife's avatar

One way that I look at these things is to think that the person who was willing to do that was obviously in need of the money.

AllAboutWaiting's avatar

It was a scam – the only reason he does it is because it works and people pay. He probably has a number of items he offers in return for donations, in addition to straight pan-handling. It’s too bad someone couldn’t give him real products to sell, it sounds like he would excel at cold-calling or sales of some type. Often illness or addiction keeps them from managing the standard life that requires.

bkcunningham's avatar

I’m curious what you felt guilty about.

HungryGuy's avatar

It may have been a scam, but they guy may really have been homeless and needed money. So don’t feel bad for helping someone out.

laureth's avatar

Not necessarily a scam – but he may just be falsely representing himself as one of these.

In general:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Street_newspaper

In my town:
http://www.annarbor.com/news/when-robert-salo-came-to/

john65pennington's avatar

I have a comback question. Did the two dollars break you? I understand your question, but remember that angels walk amongst us and giving your two dollars just may have been a test for you.

I give to the homeless to buy their paper.

Like I said, the two dollars did not break me and it may have even given me a gold star in the big guys book.

downtide's avatar

I think you gave two dollars to a homeless person who was desperate for the money.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’ll play devil’s advocate here.
Yes. You got scammed. Some stranger came up to you, fed you a line for 30 seconds and expected you to pay him $2.00. Which you did. How did it make you feel? (I’ll answer for you.) He made you feel guilty and most likely, uncomfortable. And now you feel that you were taken advantage of. He went from kid to kid with the same line of BS and got away with it. What impression do foreign tourists get of DC when they are similarly approached?

Here’s the devils advocate part. At $2 for 30 seconds of BS he made $240/hr . Not bad. (It is doubtful he really makes that much but for that instant , he did.)
By giving him the money you encouraged him to approach other kids, tourists and likewise make them feel uncomfortable.
You might have further delayed his getting help that might turn his life around.
You enabled him to continue with whatever poor life choices or addiction he might have.

Sure, some people believe there are angels around watching over us. But most likely, the guy was just a poor scam artist who targets groups of out of town kids visiting our nation’s capital. That’s unacceptable in my book.

Next time say “No thank you” with a smile. Don’t let anyone else ever make you feel guilty.
If you take the lesson to heart, that might be the best $2 you ever lost.

silky1's avatar

It’s ok to give to the homeless which is what you did.

LuckyGuy's avatar

He might be homeless, but you don’t know that. He might bey lining up for his next pop of crack. You don’t know.

The only thing you do know for sure, is that he targeted a bunch of out-of-town school kids on a school field trip. That makes him unworthy in my eyes.

jasper1890's avatar

he may not be homeless, alot of people make a living out of similar cons

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