Neighbors for Neighbors

Do stuff with and for your neighbors

I think I read about this scam recently.  She's at it again.  A woman came into my office earlier this a.m. and said she got out of her car to mail a letter and dropped her keys down the sewer.  Her 3 kids ( this woman is far beyond child bearing age !!! ) were in the car and she was stuck.  She called the sewer dept. but they were using their equipment to clean out pipes.  The locksmith was charging her $49.95 to make a car and house key and she only has $25.00.  Can I LEND her $25.00 until`11:00.  I apologized and told her (truthfully) that today is payday but not until late this afternoon, I had no cash.  I referred her to the towing company next door, and suggested they may have some cash but she took off down the street.  I was hoping she would have gone in there because they would have had fun with that one.

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Please repost this as a blog. More people will see it.
I see this woman all the time. She's panhandling, and this is her only line. I've found that you say "You've already asked me before." then she'll stop right in the middle of her spiel.
Actually the police wanted to be notified if she was around. I'm on the Executive Board of the WSBG and at one of our monthly meetings with Dist. 13 we were told to call 911 if she is around. Also when people come around to the office trying to sell items out of their backpacks. They never have a license but are working off of their bosses licenses who dropped them off in the area. I didn't call 911, I hesitate as this is not an emergency. At our next meeting I'll bring it up and ask if they do want us to call 911 for these characters.
Please call 911 when someone tries to pull a scam on you.
I'm curious about the definition of "Scam" here. I certainly respect the law, but don't see this person as a scam-artist. She's a pan-handler who found an effective line. Either people give money to folks they see on the street and she gets a few bucks, or we ask a couple of questions and determine that she's not in the trouble that she says she's in and we tell her no.

Captain, I wonder if this is worth the resources involved in calling 911. Is it worth your time to come down and talk with this woman? In my experience, people do what they can to get what they think they need, and so I doubt a chat with an officer, or even being arrested for it is going to change this woman's behavior.

I also worry that advice like this increases the distance between "people like her" and "people like us".... When we're advised to call 911, doesn't that make this woman seem more dangerous than she is? She's just a person who lives in our neighborhood who needs help. I don't personally believe that giving her money will be helpful to her in the long run, and so I don't share my money with her. We can just tell her we don't want to give her that kind of help without bringing police into it, can't we?

Please note, I have the utmost respect for the law and for police officers. I mean no disrespect, I'm curious about when and how it makes sense to ask for intervention.
Kendra It's up to you whether you want to call 911. If you want to give her money, that's also your call. I recommend you do call 911 as I have stated previously when you think someone is trying to run a scam on you. If you're satified that it isn't a scam then none of this applies to you. Panhandling is one thing a scam is something different. A number of years ago a person in South Boston ran a scam on people by saying she had cancer and people gave money. She was prosecuted for her efforts.
I hear what you're saying.
I suppose if this woman was more convincing I'd be concerned and want to make sure she couldn't rip somebody else off. I remember being solicited outside of LAX by a woman who appeared to be raising money, but I felt pretty certain from talking to her that any money she collected would go into her pocket. If there had been a cop around, I probably would have let her or him know to prevent harm to well-meaning "donors".

Thanks for responding, and for all your posts here on Neighbors, I find them really helpful.


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