New PoP Feature: Scams To Avoid

So walking to the metro tonight I was stopped by a gentleman. He approaches me and says, “I Know I’m black but I’m not homeless.” Ha, ha perpetuating negative stereotypes, always very funny. So he asks me if I’ve heard of Americorps. I told him indeed I had. Well, he goes on to explain that he is from Baltimore but his bus broke down and he needed money to get home. My answer: I’m sorry I only carry traveler’s checks.

So what’s your favorite scam?

21 Comment

  • Not a scam per se, but there is this homeless woman I constantly see all over the DC Metro area—when I lived in Alexandria she was in Old Town, but since moving to DC I’ve seen her around Dupont, Georgetown, K Street, etc.

    She’s short, slightly stocky, and has boy short hair (I thought she was a boy when I first encountered her). Anyway, she’ll come up to you and smooth talk you:

    “Hey! I love your outfit! It’s so pretty!” then start going into “I just need bus fare to get home”—blah, blah, blah. I’d politely decine her, at first.

    I bumped into her for the 1000th time after leaving the ATM one day, and I wasn’t in the mood for her mess anymore. I cut her off before she could sweet talk me, and she got aggressive and threatened to beat my ass. We got into a screaming match until I finally realized I was arguing with a nut and it wasn’t worth my time.

    I saw her again about two weeks ago, and she was trying to do the sweet-talking mumbo jumbo, and I acted like I didn’t see her. She’s a character, that one.

  • Amazing. The EXACT SAME guy said that to me on Thanksgiving night on P St. in Du Pont. Let me guess, his first line was “Hey man, are you from the neighborhood?” I think he had missed the shuttle on Thanksgiving, too bad to hear their bus has broken down this week.
    I will say he was extremely pleasant even when I didn’t give him any $$$. He shook my hand, thanked me for listening and wasn’t even pissed when I told him I had a cigarette then realized I’d forgotten my pack.

  • The “I need money becuase my car/bus/bike/scooter/rollerskates/feet broke down” is one I hear all the time all over DC and in other cities as well. What has often happened to me is that someone comes up to me and takes FOREVER telling their sob story about why their car/bus/bike/scooter/rollerskates/feet broke down instead of just getting to the ponint – that they want my hard earned money for their own pleasure. If you’re hungry I’ll buy you food, but you don’t get cold hard cash if I don’t know what it’s going to be used for.

  • the use of my tax dollars for this *&^%#####!!!!!!!!!1 war!

  • Not a scam really, but my favorite attempt was from a 10-ish year old boy and his friend who were taking turns riding a bike around the 14th/Parkwood gas station, winding around and around the gas pumps (yes, 10 year old boys on wheels below eye level while taxi drivers jockey- in reverse- for gas pump positions). While trying to figure out just how I was going to word my “you guys might want to think about riding your bike somewhere else, this is kind of dangerous” warning in a way that would sound cool and with it as opposed to uppity and nagging, one of the boys came up to me with half of a snickers in his hand, and his mouth full of the other half and said, “Hey- you got any spare change so we can buy some food?”

    I really wanted to bring them both home with me and sit them down with a tuna sandwich, and a glass of milk and a Highlights magazine. Too bad the closest I could probably get to that at my place is a can of tuna and an old Economist.

  • True story. Years ago…was walking home…man in a SUIT and TIE asks me for cigarette…I give…then asks me for money…Me ” I don’t have any, sorry”…Him “c’mon and such” …again “sorry” I open my wallet to show him what NO MONEY means… Him “You got an ATM card?” …Me walking away at this point “YEAH right!…laughing at his clearly idiotic request… Then he proceeds to call me (at the top of his lungs, as I am further away now) a RACIST…and how I won’t give a black man money!(repeating)…in full view of the after work crowd. I very much wanted to run back and slap the cigarette I had givin’ him from his ignorant mouth…clearly a few sandwiches short of a picnic…

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Crazy, reminds me of the time I gave a guy a dollar in Adams Morgan and as I as pass him for the second time he asks me for money and I said I just gave him a dollar. Well, he starts screaming at me something along the lines of “A dollar will not pay for the thousands of years of slavery…”

  • Let’s lighten things up a bit. Not so much a scam, but true story nonetheless. About a year ago, on a cool Friday morning in December, I stopped at the BP on 14th St. I think the cross street is Euclid or Otis.

    Anyway, I’m filling up my tank and this man walks over to me carrying a black garbage bag. He doesn’t ask me for a smoke or any money, but just simply asks me what I’m doing tonight. Hoping that he’s not asking me out on a date, I say that I’m not sure yet. He replies, “I know what you doing…you getting f’d up!!!” I respond with a maybe. Then he says that I’ll need this and pulls from his bag a bottle of vodka and a bottle of whiskey, both with pour tops on them, and trys to sell them to me. I tell him I’m good, but he pushes harder and explains that if I don’t like it straight up, he has mixers in his bag or some cans of beer.

    I tell him I’m all set and he says okay and walks behind the dumpster and takes a piss.

    This all happened at 7:30am.

    Here’s to you, my pusha man!!!!

    See if you find THAT in the burbs!!!!

  • Pauper-

    Come on man, you looked like you could use a drink! I’m just trying to make a buck doing the roving bar tender thing and then I get people like you who just don’t understand what its like to be drunk at 7:30 AM. It’s a hard life, I tell ya.

    P.S. How about that date sometime? You busy this weekend?

  • Sadly, I have been drunk at 7:30AM, but that was in my youth.

  • TheNeighbor

    So I’m sitting in my car waiting on my girlfriend to come out of work, 5:00 at night. A guy walks up to my window and slaps a piece of paper on it that says something along the line of “Help my I am deaf and I need some food. Anything you can give would be good, even a sandwich” I think, well at least he pretended to want a sandwich, so I gave him a buck. About 3 nights later I am back and I see the same guy chatting on the corner with some friends……..chatting! 🙂

  • Last night around 6 there was a guy standing outisde the Petworth metro. He was asking for donations for the homeless and when he was refused he would start cursing. There was a squad car parked outside the metro so I was a bit surprised to see him hustling right by the cops.

  • Yeah, that same guy came up to me and my boyfriend with the same line at the safeway in georgia probably about 6 months ago, and then I saw him AGAIN saying the same thing 2 months later to some dude in chinatown. he is pretty friendly about everything, but yah, hes completely lying about his situation. I wonder how much he’s making off of it.

  • In Dupont Circle near the Q St metro exit, there was always a guy who would ask me for money so he could buy a sandwich, but I don’t carry cash. He asked me many days during my work break over the summer.

    One day, I was coming back with some extra sandwiches from a speaker panel I had just been to and when I saw this guy again I said “aha!” thinking I could finally get him a sandwich.

    So I go up to him feeling pretty happy and offer him a sandwich, thinking he would take one and be thankful.

    Instead, he puts his hand on his chin and looks at the sandwiches. “What type are they?”

    “Um, pesto chicken and grilled vegetables” I respond.

    “Naw, no thanks.”

    So I just started laughing and said “Alright, maybe another time.”

    After that I didn’t feel bad for not giving him money for a sandwich and he didn’t feel like he had to ask me for any. We became buddies and would always ask each other how our days were going whenever I walked by.

    In the end, I think he found a better location though because after a while I didn’t see him around anymore that summer!

  • ohmigod this guy has actually stopped me on numerous occasions. Each time my husband and I say…don’t you remember us from the last time? Then he gets pretty pissed and walks away (probably because everyone else in the vicinity can hear us laughing).
    I have seen him at Chinatown/Gallery place metro and at the Petworth metro.

  • Offer to give him a ride home.

  • There used to be a guy that stood in front of where the Faccia Luna pizza place used to be on Wisconsin near Calvert. He wasn’t there everyday but pretty often. He asked me for money to get something to eat so I offered to buy him lunch instead and he was very gracious n accepting a salad one time and, a week or so later, a calzone. We talked and he said he’d come to DC from Ohio to look for work and ran out of money and was living here and there but things and he’d been applying for construction work and other day labor. He seemed like a nice guy. I didn’t see him for almost a month and one day, around lunchtime I see him standing outside my office building. He had been waiting for me to come out for lunch to thank me for not treating him like he was a bum. He had gotten a job and was in a shelter. this was years ago and, even though we’d talked a little, I don’t think I ever knew his name.

    Having been very close to homeless myself I really can’t tolerate the scam artists but if a person is genuinely in need I try to to help a little but, sometimes, its really hard to see through the bull.

  • I was just in Paris on vacation and you could spot the gypsies a mile away. They would run up and ask “Do you speak English?” If you said yes they would hold up a piece of paper with something sad written on it. The same girl asked me three different times while outside of Notre Dame. (I didn’t answer, just walked away) My understanding is that they go beyond a simple scam and if you give them money they take note of where your wallet is at and then an accomplice, whom is a master pickpocket, comes by and swipes it.

    As for the first comment above by Golden Silence — I remember that lady from Old Town. The first time I was with my (at the time) girlfriend and the lady said some very nice things. “Wow, what a pretty lady. You are so lucky.” I genuinely thanked her. Then she told us that she was pregnant and needed money. We saw her a few times more over the next year or two and she always did the same thing and she always claimed to be pregnant.

  • Has anyone else almost hit the old dude that walks with a cane between lanes on 14th St NW right near Thomas Circle at night? I see him there almost every night and he just hobbles around to each car window asking for change. One thing that I have noticed is how many taxi drivers give handouts. I try not to offer cash, but a snack or something if I have it.

  • I stopped to buy Street Sense outside of Union Station, and seeing me talk to the vendor, another man came up and asked how I liked the paper. Then he walked with me for a while talking about his job and loss of his apartment and asked for some money. So I said, my church group provides 6000 free meals a year and my volunteers and I have reached our limit with the countless trips to the CostCo, sandwich making, weekends spent in the kitchen, etc. 6000 is my limit. And he said, yeah, but I get so tired of the food you serve.

  • PoP – I’ve run into this guy several times. The excuse he’s used on me is he needs money for something having to do with the court, and he needs to collect the last five $.
    It’s a bit absurd that he has to preface the conversation with “I’m black, but I have all my teeth and I’m not homeless…”
    The second time he ran into me he I told him he’s asked me for money before for the same reason. He said “What you don’t understand is that I had an anxiety attack since then and I was in the hospital for 3 days.”

    Now, my favorite scam occurred near the NY Ave. metro – someone needed money to get his car unlocked because it was about to get towed and his family was stuck in the car.

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