Scammer Alert No.34 – Pencil Thin Mustache Edition

Photo by PoPville flickr user bajidc

“Dear PoP,

Just saw your scammer post and wanted to alert readers to another one. I’ve seen this guy several times near 9th and H St NW by the large Chinatown parking lot. Twice I’ve seen him on Sunday afternoon trying to catch the church crowd that parks there for an evening service. Similar to the military guy and the pregnant lady he has a costume and an elaborate story. He has a pencil thin mustache, wears coveralls, has an accompanying tool belt and a few sets of what look like electricians tools. His story is something to the effect of losing his wallet, need to get to work for a late shift, losing his wallet, and needing a specific amount of money for bus/metro fare but always promising to pay it forward three-fold.”

Anyone else encounter this guy?

20 Comment

  • oh yeah. he walked up to me and a girl i was dating, gave his story. she inexplicably just handed him three dollars. my jaw was open. the beginning of the end…

  • I often feel guilty, but I’ve finally made a strict rule with myself about not giving ANYONE money on the street. I donate as much as I can to Bread for the City and other local charities instead, which may not help the real person who is pregnant and needs to get home or the homeless person who won’t go to get those services, but at some point you just have to draw a line with yourself.

    • There’s absolutely nothing wrong with what you’re doing. The guilt is understandable but unnecessary. Quite a few years ago I worked full-time in several different homeless shelters in different parts of the country, and I can tell you that I and almost all of my coworkers did the exact same thing (and I continue to do so).

      Some felt it was a personal safety issue in that reaching into your pocket or bag makes you more vulnerable; others felt that their limited cash was better spent with organizations that could make more of an impact; and still others (usually the recovering addicts) felt they knew exactly where the money was going and didn’t want to enable someone else’s addiction.

      Regardless of the motivation, you have no reason to feel bad about it — especially if you’re donating what you can to an established charity.

      • Thanks for that background. I’ve had a similar policy for years, and some vague justifications for why its OK. But now I can actually attach some fully formed logic to them.

    • That’s the best/safest policy- NEVER give money to ANYONE on the street. I give to charity frequently, though, and also volunteer a good amount.

      If you give money to these folks, you’re furthering the problem.

  • Seriously? Why do people even allow scam artist to tell them long winded stories? If you have money, give, don’t give too much or you’ll be a sucker. These people wouldn’t be out there “scamming” for money if they didn’t need it somehow. If they’re homeless or needy, give them what you can or care to.

    Its not like inventing creative ways of begging for money has changed since the 1950s, all these scam alerts do is prevent us from finding the next Ted Williams… Being informed about people who regularly make up stories to aid themselves in panhandling efforts? Sounds like a way of making yourself feel less guilty for not giving, or to make yourself sound like a “tormented saint”. Its all pretty silly from my perspective.

    • A friend of mine used to give money to a older lady who camped out near L’Enfant Plaza and panhandled, until he went to work earlier than usual one morning and saw her son dropping her off in a Lincoln Continental. Not everyone who scams you for money is truly needy.
      Another friend who works with the homeless says that more than 70 precent of them have either addiction or mental issues. Some of the people she worked on behalf of have tens of thousands in the bank from government assistance that they don’t spend because they think if they go to get it the Martians will grab them.

    • This may be the most asinine thing I’ve ever seen on this website, which is no small task. Take a bow.

    • I completely disagree with you NON-10:46am.

      You correctly identify the problem in your first sentence – scam artist.

      I too have encountered some of these people, I doubt these are homeless or needy people at all but really clever crimminals.

      No to mention it is not our street duty to find the next American Homeless Man Idol… that is a ridiculous statement.

      scam - noun, verb, scammed, scam·ming.
      1. a confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, especially for making a quick profit; swindle.
      –verb (used with object)
      2. to cheat or defraud with a scam.

  • There’s an easy way to go about this. Just don’t give anyone money no matter what. I know it sounds heartless to the bleeding heart liberals, but that’s what I do.

    • I’m a bloody liberal, and I think that’s pretty much the right thing to do. If you want to help out, buy someone a meal. Or give to your favorite charity. I just don’t want someone to take a dollar from me and buy liquor.

      You have to be careful, tho’, because once I gave a slice of pizza up, and pretty soon I was swarmed. No more leftovers. I guess it’s good for my diet?

  • There’s got to be an easier and more dignified way for John Waters to raise funds for the Pink Flamingos sequel…. Just heartbreaking.

  • Yep, seen this guy and heard his spiel. Was right in front of that hotel across from the bus depot.

  • I can’t read or hear “pencil thin mustache” without thinking of the “Footloose” episode of Yacht Rock:

  • oh my gosh, i totally got scammed! he must be at it for years because he hit me up over a year ago and i fell for it. he asked for the exact bus far and as i was walking away i remember looking back and it looked as though he was about to board the oncoming bus. i guess maybe he didn’t.

  • I’ve seen this guy on the same corner two different weekends. Yes, he has the same story and has quite an act to go with it. I told him the second time he approached me that he approached me last week with the same story. He knows that people are catching on which means he will probably move to a different location.

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