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PoP Reader Leads Police to Alleged Military Scammer

by Prince Of Petworth November 18, 2010 at 10:30 am 72 Comments

It was clear after reading the comments on yesterday’s post about the alleged ‘military scammer’ on metro that this was a very active scammer. Fortunately PoP readers kick ass. The photo is a bit blurry but you can see the alleged scammer in the khakis talking with police.

The reader writes:

So a few months ago, I was a victim of this guy’s scam on the Orange line. At the time, I actually felt good about myself and was proud to be helping out someone in need, especially someone who was serving our country. I felt it was the least I could do. He had documentation and everything. After initially ignoring him, the metro stalled for 20-30 minutes, so I eventually agreed to visit an ATM and give him the money he was asking for in order to get back to base.

A few months later, I saw him aimlessly wandering around Chinatown. I recognized him and he asked to use the calculator on my phone. That’s when I figured out if he was who he had originally claimed to be, the likelihood of him being back in DC was small and something did not add up.

I saw him a third time in late summer walking on Pennsylvania Ave a few blocks East of the White House. He was spewing his lies to a couple. I told them he was a liar and I instructed them not to give him any money.

Then this morning my friend (to whom I had told these stories) sent me a link to your recent blog post. I commented on the post and read just how many other people he had been negatively affecting.

Tonight, coincidentally enough, I was walking around the Chinatown area coming home from a work dinner when I spotted him. I planned on taking a close-up of his face, but before I could, he had entered the Mehak Indian Restaurant. I saw him go upstairs, so after a few minutes I decided to follow him. I walked up the stairs only to discover there was no one in sight. Baffled, I walked back down the stairs and outside to the street.

I hung around for a few minutes contemplating what to do, when finally I saw a police car driving around. I hailed it down and started explaining my story to the officers. After starting to unsuccessfully describe his physical characteristics, I saw him exit the restaurant, and said, “actually, thats him right there.”

Two policemen started questioning him, asking, “are you a marine?” to which he responded, “yes.” Thats when I snapped the picture in question.

I finished telling a third officer my story around the block while the other two officers continued to question him. I then left.

I guess we’ll see what happens.

  • To the POP reader who got the police to talk to this guy,

    Thank you for trying to do something about this. Even if he doesn’t get in trouble, I hope more and more people recognize him and stop him when he is trying to scam people.

  • jcm

    That’s pretty awesome. Thanks for taking the time to do that. Hopefully the police can do something about him. His scam is really offensive.

  • SK

    Yes!!!! I yelled at him a month ago and made sure people didnt give him money. I hatttttttte this guy.

  • Mony

    Fritzhahn (Post GOG) also tweeted about this. He stopped me at 13th and Penn a few months back, I brushed him off like I do most people with sob stories.

  • El Gringo

    I would actually understand if the cops in question didn’t feel an arrest was justified at that moment, and it would be totally reasonable if they hadn’t “gotten the memo” on this guy less than 24hrs after PoP emailed MPD.

    That said, maybe 2D can now circulate a lookout for the guy in the area…hopefully the officers in the picture recorded his ID in someway…

    PoP: Perhaps you could make a second inquiry with your sources at MPD to help them connect these dots?

  • David Magee

    This guy needs to drop his act…If he wants money maybe he should enlist?

    • Jessica

      the Marines aren’t that desperate.

  • jim

    Heh. I ran into this assclown in Chinatown a couple of months ago. I asked him what is rank was and he named one the marines don’t have. I said “Really?” and walked off.

    • Anonymous

      you really let him have it

    • NewShawNeighbor

      assclown…he he he

  • park view!

    Anyone who has read Jim Thompson knows that the most important aspect of the successful short grift is to SKIP TOWN, regularly and often. How has this guy been getting away with this, in such a small city, for so long?

    • Kalorini

      Tourists. Tourists. Tourists.

    • PG

      What a conicidence – I’m reading The Killer Inside Me right now!

  • Jamie

    Unfortunately, I can’t think of any possible way this guy could ever be prosecuted.

    What crime has he committed? Is lying a crime?

    He asked you for money. You gave it to him. You didn’t ask for anything in return.

    There was no crime. A fool and his money are soon parted. Why bother skipping town when there are an endless number of people willing to give you money? He’s no more a criminal than your typical homeless person, he’s just better at it.

    • Anonymous

      Falsely impersonating a member of the armed forces/public official for private gain?

      • Jamie

        He’s not even wearing a uniform as far as I can tell. I doubt you could be convicted for just saying you’re in the military when you aren’t. I mean, our congressmen do that all the time.

        • Jessica

          He might be wearing some items that are issued to the military – i can’t see from the picture, but that black fleece could be government issue, which is why he bought it.

        • Nick

          He also presents fake documentation purporting to show he’s in he military.

      • Anonymous

        This is a law called “Stolen Valor” which was recently ruled unconstitutional – so, impersonating a Marine, not illegal

      • Anonymous

        The law is called Stolen Valor and was recently ruled unconstitutional. So, not a crime to impersonate a Marine. Might be fraud though.

    • erin

      Fraud, intentionally deceiving people for (monetary) gain, is a crime.

      • Jamie

        OK, so if a homeless guy says he needs money to buy food, but buys booze instead, it’s just as much “fraud.”

        The law seems to define fraud as: “showing that the defendant’s actions involved five separate elements: (1) a false statement of a material fact,(2) knowledge on the part of the defendant that the statement is untrue, (3) intent on the part of the defendant to deceive the alleged victim, (4) justifiable reliance by the alleged victim on the statement, and (5) injury to the alleged victim as a result.”

        I think you’d have a very hard time with #5 since the victim willingly gave up the cash with no expectation of it being returned. Even if the guy said
        “I’ll mail it back to you” there’s nothing more than a verbal contract.

        At most this would end up in small claims court, and it would require a sting to provide any proof of the contract.

        Just not going to happen, ever.

        • Jay’O

          I think there certainly was #5: injury to the victim! The Victim has been deprived of the use of his/her $ in the sense that the victim was not just handing out $ to any and all people that came by. They were giving a charitable donation to help a crime victim and member of the Military. Instead their money went to help a fraudster. Obviously, this supposed “homeless” guy knew he wouldn’t people wouldn’t give him money if he just said he was a guy, so he created a fraudulent story and persona to make people think they are helping a certain class of charity case, when in fact they were not.

          This fraud deprives the victim from the use of their charitable contribution that they could have otherwise donated to the charity of their choice (such as deserving REAL military personel)

    • Anonymous

      Fraud is a crime. Also, so is impersonating a military officer.

      • Jessica

        I don’t think he’s saying he’s an officer. No one’s account says this. In fact, no ones account says what rank he claims to be.

    • Anonymous

      Fraud, plain and simple.

  • J

    WHY would the PoP reader who alerted police depart the scene? That only served one purpose: vastly increased the odds of police releasing this guy back onto the streets. You have to stick around, remain engaged with the officers, ask pointedly what you can contribute to assure detention, and sometimes you even have to insist on filing a written complaint agains the perp. I’ve lost count how many times an officer has told me “without a complaint we can’t do anything.” I hope I’m wrong, that none of that diligence was required for DCMPD to arrest this guy, but perhaps we can get an update on what transpired afterwards?

    @Jamie: “Is lying a crime?” To get money, and while impersonating a member of the military, YES. Please Google “fraud” mmkay thx.

    • Jamie

      See my comment above. The guy isn’t wearing a uniform, for starters. He’s not using that impersonation to cause someone to submit to authority, which the law appears to require. And fraud requires harm as a result of the deception. If you didn’t expect anything in return then there is no harm.

      Anyway, regardless of how many technical laws you believe he is violating, best of luck even getting an arrest.

      If you give someone money willingly, with no expectation of return, then I don’t see how you can prove “harm” since there was no breach of contract.

      • BeerDude

        Google larceny by false pretenses.

        • Jamie

          Larceny is theft. If there was no promise of the money being returned, then there is no theft. If there was, then it’s a misdemeanor at most and as I said good luck even getting an arrest. It would be your word against his.

          • BeerDude

            I see you ignored my suggestion. You may learn something if you take it.

          • Jamie

            Thanks. I googled larceny. It says there is no Federal statute that defines a crime of larceny, as the dictionary describes it, generally.

            So we have described this particular act as “larceny.” This equally well describes a homeless person who asks you for money for food, but spends it on booze.

            Now, show me the DC law that would make this a crime, and perhaps a precedent of anyone ever being prosecuted for it, which is my real point.

  • Trixie
  • J

    Jamie: You’re just making stuff up. Impersonate a lawyer much?


    • Anon

      +1 J. Thanks for attempting to put Jamie straight. Hopefully the message sticks. It makes me wonder if Jamie has ever heard of con men, grifting, swindling. Perhaps not.

      • Jamie

        Grifters, con men and swindlers get money by promising something in return, typically a much larger amount. This is conceptually (to me at least) a lot different from panhandling.

        As I said, this guy is exactly the same as anyone else who asks you for money on the street. A lot of panhandlers aren’t even homeless, you know, yet the misrepresent themselves as being so to get your money. To buy booze, probably, instead of food.

        Anyway, the law varies by state, and I have no idea if this would actually be a crime in DC, but I am sure it would be hard to get a conviction.

        • J

          “This is conceptually (to me at least) a lot different”

          OH WELL there’s a great basis for holding forth on a legal question.

          • Jamie

            My point has been primarily a practical one rather than a legal one. Obviously I was incorrect about it being technically illegal, but as I said, so’s your average hobo. I applaud anyone who is willing to try to get this guy arrested. Then we will only have 12,212 scammers in DC instead of 12,213. Oh wait but tomorrow a new one will start up. Oh well.

        • Rukasu1

          In theory this guy is offering something in return, that warm, fuzzy feeling you may get knowing you helped out a down-on-his-luck vet by “doing the right thing”. Who says it has to be a material return?

    • Jamie

      Well I stand corrected. It is, in fact, possible to prosecute someone for this. I’m amazed! And he actually served two months in jail. I’m sure he’s already back at it.

  • Anonymous

    Does anyone else feel kind of bad for him? I mean, he looks like a good kid (which is what makes his scam so effective). I would hate it if I had spent the best years of my youth wandering around and lying to people for money.

    • PG

      Yeah, because running his scam is the only option he has to make a living. There are absolutely NO jobs around he’s qualified for!

  • J

    Jamie: “My point has been primarily a practical one rather than a legal one.”

    OH OK. Everyone pls ignore:

    “What crime has he committed?”
    “There was no crime”
    “The law seems to define fraud as:…” (lengthy attempts at parsing code followed)
    “…there’s nothing more than a verbal contract.”
    “He’s not using that impersonation to cause someone to submit to authority, which the law appears to require.”
    “…fraud requires harm as a result of the deception.”
    (and more)

    Armchair lawyer FAIL. Here’s what I wish fraud included: coverage of people who should be doing something for their paycheck, but carve out time to push empty and unsupportable armchair opinions on a blog, and in this particular instance all to no discernable end other than to accept the status quo of a fraudster taking advantage of people while sullying the Marine Corps.

    Thanks for your contribution to the District today there, Jamie!

    • Anonymous

      Jamie is pretty much always like that.

    • BeerDude

      +1. And Jamie, while you may have looked up “larceny,” you ignore the “by false pretenses” modifer of my suggestion. And in your request that I show you the DC law that makes this a crime, please see DC ST § 22-3211, which codifies theft, and includes the use of those “false pretenses” I noted earlier. Because this jackass has engaged in a pattern of conduct, DC’s fraud statute may also apply (DC ST § 22-3221), and by god, if you look at that statute, there’s those pesky “false pretenses” again!

      And while I admire your expertise on prosecutorial discretion, I would certainly hope that our local USA’s office would see this pattern, of serious misrepsentations of fact that prey on the emotions of DC’s citizens and visitors, as a real problem, as opposed to the one time hobo food-for-wine hypothetical you pose. There is a BIG difference.

      That’s all. I’m going back to work.

    • whoa_now

      dudes get over yourselfs, I actually agree with Jamie. What this guy is doing is terrible..and a pattern and he should be behind bars or atleast beaten. But honestly you think cops are going to spend a bunch of man hours putting him behind bar, spend money prosecuting him…they should. But Jamie’s point isn’t that they shouldn’t but that tons of other “bum” ask for money under false pretense…where is the outrage at that. I think the both of you got into an internet chat room argument and instead of seeing reality you saw “win” the argument. In all actuality do you think that dude was arrested last night?

      • J

        “In all actuality” I absolutely believe:

        1. DCMPD should muster the strength to do to this fraudster what other locations in the US have proven isn’t as difficult as building a time machine or finding a unicorn. (Heck, it’s even a hell of a lot easier than running illegal road blocks, or say avoiding arresting nursing conventioneers along with G20 anarchists).

        2. None of that was Jamie’s point, or at least weren’t his point until after challenged on his pulled-from-whoknowswhere pronouncements on the letter of the law.

  • Dr Pangloss
  • DR

    Kudos. Has anybody ever been hit up by the professional-looking woman, who is pretending to have just been in a car accident and needs money to get back home to Leesburg, Virginia? Apparently she is a great actress, one that even cry on command.

    • dchs

      Has to take a cab home, because she has to pick up her kids at the sitter? Yup – she got me.

    • kate

      YES…awhile back downtown at rush hour. I talked to her for a minute, and when I caught on to what she was asking for and said no/started to walk away she called me a “stupid bitch.” Lovely.

      • Jules

        Oh, yeah — I met her, too. But she locked her keys in her BMW. When I laughed at her (the extra details are always the giveaway) she cussed me out.

  • J

    Wait, is Jamie in charge of training new DCMPD recruits? Because he’s pretty dogged in concocting utter b***s*** reasoning for why someone can’t be so much as given a summons.

  • mark

    Great job introducing him to the cops. However, my preference would be to introduce him to some Marines.

    • Enos

      Good idea!

    • Anonymous


  • whoa_now

    Seriously? you won the argument. this type of scam can be prosecuted…However I think Jamie’s main point stands-This type of scam is hard to prosecute.

    • J

      Except in the articles where it wasn’t.

      You get the law enforcement you expect.

      • whoa_now

        Ok, you win. congrats..have fun in dc.

  • J

    Wait, you don’t even live in DC, and you’re on here commenting about how we should react to stuff here? LOL. Next time your non-DC neighborhood is dealing with asshattery, be sure to let us know so we can tell you how you should react, how you shouldn’t expect cops to do anything ROFL.

    • whoa_now

      This isn’t even worth it-I live in dc, I’ve probably been here longer than you, I own a house – you rent a condo….but I live in the reality. I see cops draw guns at snowball fights and not lose their jobs, I see bikes get stolen week in week out, I see muggings by wards of the district, and the their back on the street the next day…and YES I want a better “law enforcement” agency, and YES I and a responsible DC resident..but me expecting something doesn’t make it better. If that was the case, then this guy would be behind bars..

      • J

        “me expecting something doesn’t make it better. If that was the case, then this guy would be behind bars.”

        No, taking ACTION, instead of just running your mouth here in defense of the status quo, that’s what can help make it better.

        If you’re scammed by this guy, don’t leave, call the cops and you insist on filing a complaint. Then, the next time he meets the police, there’s a record of complaints, and they can’t tell you “gee without a complaint we can’t do anything.” If/when he’s arrested, you write in neighborhood impact emails/letters to the USAO.

        Or, hmm, you can just run your mouth on a blog explaining how we can’t do anything. (In between inaccurate mind reading about who lives in a condo v house LOL).

        Semper Fi!

        • whoa_now

          Lets take it down a notch, stu. You immediately have to try and take it personal. You love winning the chat room argumet, congrats.

          Where did I suggest take no action? where did I say don’t call police?, Where did i say don’t file a complaint?. I’m all for that, I suggest that, I do that, in this case (Marine Scammer) I would contact the police…I just don’t expect everything to be butterflies and rainbows after I do it.

          Was the guy arrested last night? I hope so, but I’m not holding my breath.

          Apologies on the mind reading. Perhaps I thought I had your ability.

          • J

            Getting away from whoa_now’s Happyland of Ad Hominems, and back to the incident at hand, here’s a question:

            If this guy were running all over town, repeatedly scamming people citywide, but his scam story was that he was raising funds for DCMPD widows and orphans, wonder how much rocket science and legal chin rubbing would be required for him to be taken off the streets then?

  • Troll

    You are all children

  • J

    um well thanks for not making it personal there.

    (HOLY shiznit)

  • More is More

    I definitely see both sides of the argument when it comes to this so called Marine.

    However, when it comes down to how this man should be handled, there are things that sound good in theory and then things that will actually happen.

    I understand when people say you should call the cops, wait for them to arrive, and file a report, but who’s really going to take the time to do that, especially when there’s a 90% chance that the report will result in nothing? Most people won’t when they have jobs to get to, children to pick up, errands to run, etc. They’ll simply chalk the experience up to a hard lesson learned and be all the wiser the next time around. I’m not saying that some people won’t take these actions, but I am saying that most won’t.

    And I agree that even if this guy is arrested, what’s the likelihood that he’ll actually be prosecuted for something? Would alleged victims be willing to take a day of work to testify in court? Would they even be willing to take the time to provide a notarized statement? Could you even positively identify the person if her were wearing, say, a suit and tie, like he proabably would be in court? My point is, it would be difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a fraud was committed and that victims suffered.

    I think the most realistic course of action in this situation is for people who recognize the scam can simply warn those who don’t; additionally, continued police follow-up and questioning should make the situation unpleasant. Once the scam becomes difficult and no longer lucrative, I’m sure he’ll find a new scam to move onto.

    • J

      I’m sorry, More is More, but I’m just not the type to spin my wheels trying to think of every way in which something wouldn’t or shouldn’t be done. Not blasting you, blasting the mindset that creeps into all of us living in a city.

      I remember travelling to NYC for years, being accosted by aggressive panhandlers and fraudsters every time I emerged through Penn Station. I got fed up, approached a cop, and was given the same reasoning you just gave, only a colorful and “in-a-new-york-minute’ version.

      Then Giuliani got elected. I’m no Rudy booster, but the difference was like night and day in expectations and police operations. The people streaming into and out of NYC to do business and pump tax dollars into Manhattan were no longer running a gauntlet of harassment and fraud just to get in line for a cab.

      If the cops want to take your basics and file a report (their job) they can do it. If the cops want to clean up a block, esp. with people right there saying “hey this guy scammed me.” they can. You have to expect it, demand it, and so do city leaders.

  • Goku

    somebody should rob him, what goes around comes around………….

    • Danish

      +1 I’m down if you want to join in!

      and J . . .Get over yourself!

  • Anonymous Jones

    I’ve had multiple encounters with this guy. I don’t exactly blend, so I found it odd that he would keep approaching me with the same story, especially since I called him out on it each and every time.

  • allisoners

    A guy who looks a lot like him approached me at a gas station way out in Arundel Mills a few nights ago. Needed “help with half a tank of gas to get to Fort Bragg.” I said no and that was that. Best part? He was driving a Mercedes that couldn’t have been more than 2 years old. Someone needs to stop this dude.


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