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Begging
Old 04-26-2013, 12:49 PM   #1
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Begging

I put this here because I suspect it may get kind of bacon-ish.

My hands are shaking so badly, I can barely type, but I need some perspective here.

Someone is trying to tell me something today. My home office phone number is 1 digit different than our local church food pantry. I got two wrong numbers this morning, and nicely directed them to the right number. They always sound horribly distressed when I pick up the phone. I maybe get 1 wrong # a week, but today I got two!

Then, at lunch, I went to the gym. When I pulled in my garage, a car pulled in behind me, and a VERY frantic man got out of the car. There was a woman in the passenger seat who also looked upset.

"My father just died, and I need to get to Champagne, IL for the funeral. I just got laid off from XXX and have no gas money to get there". Just then, my husband opened the garage door because the dogs were beyond frantic watching me through the picture window. This guy was coming closer and closer and I told him to stop, stand right there, and I went in the house and got $5 and gave it to him, as my husband watched and listened to the story again. I told him never to come back, and he said "God bless you" and left. And IMMEDIATELY pulled in the driveway across the street. I saw the reverand's wallet and cash come out. Same thing next door, and the next door.....

By now, we're on the phone with the police, who took his license number, description, and car make & model. It looks like he made out pretty well on our cul-de-sac, and as he pulled up our street I heard a siren. I don't even want to know what happened.

He may not have been sincere in asking for $$, but I gave it for the right reasons.

What do you do when you're approached for $$? I've never had anyone be so aggressive in my own driveway, but not long ago I did have a woman offer to carry my package as I walked out of Lowe's, which turned into a request for grocery money. I've started only taking my driver's license and 1 credit card when I go to that particular area now. That way I can honestly say I have no cash on me.

Now I'm worried this guy knows where I live.

Uggghhhhh, sorry, I'm just upset and needed to vent.
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Old 04-26-2013, 01:07 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by SumDay View Post
Now I'm worried this guy knows where I live.

Uggghhhhh, sorry, I'm just upset and needed to vent.
Don't worry about it. They aren't 'after you', they were just looking for $ in the easiest way possible. They'll move on the next opportunity.

You might want to talk to the police, they might be able to provide some follow-up that will calm you.

I don't consider people like this to be 'beggars' - they are criminals, intimidating people to steal their money. It's good that you called the police.

What do I do? I just say "no", firmly. They move on. I don't do it because I'm a scrooge, I do it to be helpful. Every credible source I've seen says it is unwise to give money directly to beggars. There are outreach programs that will accept your donation and will attempt to provide real help.

If you are actually familiar with the person, and know they are using the money for food, that's different. But random 'beggars' are likely to be scamming you.

-ERD50
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Old 04-26-2013, 01:14 PM   #3
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This is why I have a no soliciting sign on my front door.

"Sir, this property is posted for no soliciting. You are breaking a local law right now."
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Old 04-26-2013, 01:26 PM   #4
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Having someone approach me for money in my own driveway would scare the crap out of me no matter how convincing the sob story. I'm glad your DH called the police and I doubt they will return (they have probably been so many places they won't remember how to get to yours). I really hate the scam-handlers who create an elaborate stories because if the stories were true, they could find some real help.
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Old 04-26-2013, 04:44 PM   #5
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Having someone approach me for money in my own driveway would scare the crap out of me no matter how convincing the sob story. I'm glad your DH called the police and I doubt they will return (they have probably been so many places they won't remember how to get to yours). I really hate the scam-handlers who create an elaborate stories because if the stories were true, they could find some real help.
Our village has an ordinance prohibiting door to door solicitation without a permit (with picture name tag) issued by town hall. Our local neighborhood association is quite aggressive about calling the police whenever anyone rings a doorbell that isn't displaying the picture-badge.

Our police say this policy is a great crime prevention tool. Many door to door solicitors are simply using it as an excuse to poke around your property and get a close look. Our police generally respond very quickly and have the illegal solicitors in the back seat of the squad before they're more than 2 - 3 houses down the block.

I agree with you that OP did the right thing when she called the police.
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Old 04-26-2013, 05:12 PM   #6
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Having someone approach me for money in my own driveway would scare the crap out of me no matter how convincing the sob story. I'm glad your DH called the police and I doubt they will return (they have probably been so many places they won't remember how to get to yours). I really hate the scam-handlers who create an elaborate stories because if the stories were true, they could find some real help.
I live in the city and like most cities, the poor and the rich don't live t0o far apart and beggars coming to your door is not that unusual. Nothing to be scared about.
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Old 04-26-2013, 08:22 PM   #7
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I would be really upset if that happened to me, because a neighbor of ours was killed in his garage by someone asking for money. When he pulled out his wallet, he was killed. He was a career military man and a leader in the community. I am really cautious now.
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Old 04-26-2013, 08:35 PM   #8
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I live in the city and like most cities, the poor and the rich don't live t0o far apart and beggars coming to your door is not that unusual. Nothing to be scared about.
I have personally been assaulted in a very similar situation. I now give through recognized charities only. In the past I've "helped" people with sob stories similar to the one you were given, but in most cases I think they are fake. I now consider such approaches as danger and respond accordingly.

Earnest young couple at a gas station needs a few bucks to fill up their car for some emergency trip, I'll offer to buy them gas. They don't actually want the gas and try to get me to give them money so they can buy the gas. Scam.
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Old 04-26-2013, 08:37 PM   #9
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I once tried to give half of my ice cream sandwich to a street begger, he casually said "no thanks, I'm lactose intolerant". I generally give to organizations that help the homeless rather than direct giving.
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Old 04-26-2013, 09:20 PM   #10
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The scammers really tick me off, the people whom they really rob are the people who are truly in need.
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Old 04-26-2013, 09:52 PM   #11
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The way the story started out I thought you were going to say it was one of those annoying door to door religion pushers trying to convert you and save your soul! Good to hear you only got scammed out of a $5 spot.

Seriously though, the "I urgently need a few bucks for gas to get to xyz because of a, b, and c" is a classic. A meth head or crack head (totally strung out) hit me up for some money at the gas pumps a couple days ago. Of course they had an emergency and needed to get back home... I immediately go to self defense 101 in my head - identify escape route, then identify weapons and plan of attack. You never know what these people are going to do.

I had a new one at Aldi's (where you put a quarter in the cart to "rent" it while you shop, then getting your quarter back when you properly return your cart to the cart corral). A bum walked up as I was finishing loading my groceries and handed me the last 1-2 pieces. Then politely offered to take my cart back, mumbling something about how he recently got this job keeping the parking lots clean. I politely declined his invitation and he politely walked away. It was only a quarter, but the last thing I want is vagrants and bums hanging out where I shop so I don't ever do anything to make them think those shops are a good place to practice their parasitism.
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Old 04-26-2013, 10:11 PM   #12
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I live in a small town. The closest I have witnessed to begging here is the people who try to sell you girl scout cookies or whatever at the Walmart entrance. If I had to deal with what some of what you have written, it would make me very uncomfortable and I would be giving serious thought to carrying "a piece" on me for protection. I certainly would if I had been assaulted over it, since I have never been close to being in that situation before. But I guess it is what you are used to if you live in the city
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Old 04-26-2013, 10:14 PM   #13
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I think you did both things right - giving the money, and then observing them and calling the police with crucial details when it became clear they were scammers working the neighborhood. I doubt the scammer has any idea who in the neighborhood called the police.
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Old 04-26-2013, 10:19 PM   #14
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I live in small town, but I've gotten that same story a dozen times. It's always some variation on car trouble or need for gas. These guys must've all gone to the same seminar.
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Old 04-26-2013, 10:29 PM   #15
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An unknown someone pulling up behind me in my driveway unannounced/uninvited is likely to get pepper sprayed -or worse. At best this was INTIMIDATION, not a simple request for $ like a beggar on a street corner. Or this could have been 1st step towards robbery, like casing home for valuables. IMHO that's prob why the OP's local police responded quickly. I grew up in big city USA & learned long ago that taking your wallet out in front of a stranger is just asking to get it swiped. I have no problem helping my fellow man (or woman), and I give to charity regularly. But IMHO being charitable does NOT mean allowing yourself to be duped, intimidated, or put in potentially dangerous situation. I figure if I (or others) get swindled it's just that much less $$ available for the truly needy. And crooks who impersonate the needy are (fill in the blank)
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Old 04-26-2013, 10:29 PM   #16
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I hate this too. Today my GF took me to see the Chihuly glassware exhibit and afterward we were sitting in the old Food Court at Seattle Center. Some ragged looking old man came right up to the table and asked for money to eat. I just said no, please leave us. He left. Later he came back and asked again. I said no again, and he cussed me out. We were about ready to leave and go to the Starbucks for coffee, and they will run a bum if he bothers people so I didn't take time to go looking for police help. None would have been forthcoming anyway.

I like public spaces, but really the only place to get away from creeps is in private businesses, where the manager will always take care of things.

Glad you are OK, it isn't always that way. 2 years ago only 1 block from my house some panhandler killed a passerby with an axe of all things, because he said no to this lunatic. A lot of these people are psychotic, or hyped up on drugs. Panhandlers and beggars are not harmless. And no matter what the PC bs about them, schizophrenics are sometimes not harmless either.

I think the police should periodically send a busload of them one way to the Klondike. Churches are climbing all over one another to run soup kitchens in any 6 block distance downtown. There people are rarely hungry, they just want things that they cannot buy with food cards.

When I first moved back to the city I was moved by some of them; but enough is enough.

Ha
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Old 04-26-2013, 10:30 PM   #17
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I give money to the food bank and let them decide who is needy. I don't want to give money to panhandlers who might use it to buy cigarettes or booze.

We saw some documentary show on TV where the producers followed a bunch of druggies around for a few months and the story you heard is the kind they all used to get drug money off passer-byes.
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Old 04-26-2013, 10:51 PM   #18
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I think you did the right thing, SumDay.

It's hard to avoid the panhandlers here in San Francisco. They are everywhere. I sometimes give them my loose pocket change, assuming they don't display foul behavior like some do, but nothing more.

Most of my charitable contributions go to the Food Bank and that seems to be the more sensible way to help the truly needy.
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Old 04-26-2013, 11:34 PM   #19
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If the story is good enough, and specifically local, sometimes I will give these people money. The two best stories were 1) one time I was in Alexandria, VA and these 20 something came down the street with luggage on rollers. Their story was some great and unique travel story that fit the D.C. area. But they were clearly panhandlers. 2) In Denver, there is this home depot, and next door is a dump motel, and across the street is a walmart with a mcdonalds. The people living in the motel have this story that I've heard twice at the same home depot parking lot: a church put them up in the motel because their house was foreclosed upon, and they needed money to go over to MacDonald's and feed their family. That story probably was partially true for somebody once, but any church group, if they did put them up at the motel, would surely have given them food money also.
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Old 04-27-2013, 01:50 AM   #20
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I attended a university next door to a very large homeless shelter and was asked for money EVERY day for 4 years. My typical strategy:
1) Speak in a foreign language, and they will just walk away

2) If you can't speak a foreign language, just say nonsense words:
Them: Hey, can you spare $5?
Me: Chicago, Atlanta, Sheboygan
Them: Dude, do you have any money?
Me: CHICAGO, ATLANTA, SHEBOYGAN
They will walk away thinking you are off balance

3) I say "sorry, I only have a credit card." They will walk away looking for greener fields. This is actually the easiest, but I enjoy the other strategies.
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