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Con artist alert

By explodey - 11 June 2009 43

Yes, I am a sucker for just handing a perfect stranger money, but I like to assume not everyone is a con artist.

Anyway, just now in Manuka a young man in a suit (looking perfectly professional) ran up to me very distraught, saying his girlfriend had just been in a car accident, was at the hospital and he needed to get a cab there but for this and that reason didn’t have the money.

Although of course the possibility of a scam was going through my head, the poor guy was very upset and I gave him money and we exchanged phone numbers and names. Don’t ask me why I didn’t ask for more ID – totally stupid I know – I just pictured myself in his position and didn’t want to drill him.

Anyway, needless to say I’ve tried the number and it’s disconnected and I’ve told myself repeatedly I deserved it for being naive.

This guy was mid-late 20s, short dark hair and was wearing a greyish suit and green/yellow tie from memory. If he approaches you, please punch him in the face for me. 

What’s Your opinion?

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43 Responses to
Con artist alert
Auntyem 6:24 pm 11 Jun 09

Don’t feel bad about it – you thought you were doing the right thing. Unfortunately there are sh*t bags out there who take advantage of the good nature of people. If he approaches me I’ll take a photo with my phone and post it on here (and encourage others to do the same).

I was approached by a guy in civic recently with a small boy in a pram. He told me the boy was sick and he needed money to get a prescription. I told him I’d walk him to the chemist and pay for said prescription. He said he didn’t have it on him and just needed the money so he could go home and get it. I asked him how long the little boy had been sick and he told me it had been about a week (I’m not a doctor but the boy looked more bored than sick). I told him I worked for Docs (I don’t) and could get him a free prescription and he vanished. I spoke to some police in the area because I was genuinely concerned about children being used as “bait”. When I got back to work several people told me they’d seen him over several hours pulling the same stunt and they’d given him money. I’ve never heard anything since but often think of that poor kid and what chance he’s got in life.

Bundybear 6:15 pm 11 Jun 09

Don’t feel at all foolish, just means you’re a nicer person than me and lots of others. I’m jaded enough to tell anyone who approaches me to give it a rest before I’ve even listened to their story. If really pressed I’d like to think I’d offer a lift, to buy a sandwich, etc. but I’m buggered if I’m going to feed someone’s drug/alcohol/gambling habit with my hard earned.

Deadmandrinking 5:58 pm 11 Jun 09

Never give more than a dollar to anyone you don’t know. That’s the sorry state of affairs in the modern world.

fnaah 5:50 pm 11 Jun 09

Isn’t someone running a similar con in Sydney? Same girl/ambo story, and the guy claims he is a manager of a pizza shop or something, and offers to come back later with free pizza. He also offers fake gold watches as surety.

Woody Mann-Caruso 5:29 pm 11 Jun 09

Don’t feel the slightest bit foolish. Cognitively, it’s pretty unlikely that you would’ve thought to ask any of those questions, because your brain simply isn’t wired for considered thought in these circumstances. It’s a high pressure situation, there’s a tonne of words flowing at you, the suit overwhelms a range of social guards and the next thing you know you’re handing over your money.

Here, go watch Derren Brown persuade a bunch of people to give him their watches, keys and phones. Listen carefully as he puts them in a suggestive state: you’re very helpful, you don’t mind giving that to me, do you, here, hold this bottle of water, OK, now you’re doing what I tell you to do, give me all your stuff and walk away. Great stuff.

Spectra 5:11 pm 11 Jun 09

Inappropriate: These questions are always obvious in hindsight when you’re out of the situation and able to look at it objectively. A good portion of most scams is about catching people off guard.

explodey: There are many worse things in the world to be than naively compassionate. Don’t feel too bad, and thanks for the warning.

explodey 5:02 pm 11 Jun 09

I asked all those questions. After he took my money.

Inappropriate 4:58 pm 11 Jun 09

I would be asking why a guy in a suit:
* Didn’t ride in the ambulance?
* Ride with a police officer?
* Doesn’t have a credit card?
* Doesn’t have work mates who would spot him money?
* Couldn’t visit an ATM?
* Couldn’t visit a bank?
* Phone a friend?
* Try the sob story on a cabbie?
* Find himself in Manuka, in a suit, without any means of paying for anything…

Postalgeek 4:57 pm 11 Jun 09

I’d still rather take the risk of being suckered than saying no to someone in genuine distress. You assessed the situation, were aware of the risk, and made a call. The call turned out to be wrong, but it wasn’t stupid. Compassion may be seen to be a handicap, but geez you’re glad of it when you’re the one in genuine trouble.

Nowadays most people have a camera on their phone. Just insist on taking a portrait or video next time you’re about to hand over cash at the door or on the street to someone with a unverifiable story. If they refuse, they’re obviously not that desperate.

chewy14 4:51 pm 11 Jun 09

Next time do what i do,
Offer to ring the cab company for him or offer him a lift.

They seem to lose interest about their injured relative after that.

Gobbo 4:50 pm 11 Jun 09

It is difficult when people scam on the good nature of others. Still, I always consider whether I can do without the money. If I can, I let myself be scammed.

el 4:45 pm 11 Jun 09

This guy must be making some OK cash – enough to afford a suit at least. Last time I saw him he was in trackpants + t-shirt.

explodey 4:43 pm 11 Jun 09

I know, but I feel like a total sucker. Plus it just makes it that much harder to be generous next time someone legit is in trouble. Funny how you only seem to think lucidly after these situations.

burkes08 4:43 pm 11 Jun 09

Thats what you get for being a nice person. It sux!

amarooresident2 4:35 pm 11 Jun 09

Will do. But you shouldn’t feel bad, you were trying to do the right thing.

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