Friday, December 20, 2013

East Village grifter alert: Beware the man with the sob story who offers you a wedding ring as collateral

An East Village resident shares the following with us...

There is a scam artist working the area around Tompkins Square Park. A white guy in his early 40s, baldish, about 5-8, stout — dressed and looking like a perfectly average working-class type.

The first time he came up to me near my building about two months ago, pleading for help, saying he and his kids were trapped in a van that ran out of gas and he needed something like 18 or 28 dollars, I don't remember exactly.

I never do this, but that time I believed the guy, especially since he looked so desperate and even offered his wedding ring, some chain, phone and what not as a security deposit till he paid me back. I turned down his generous proposal, gave him $20 and was happy to just go home after a long day at work. Actually, I even felt good about helping the guy out.

But then yesterday, on the same block, just a couple of feet from my building, the same guy catches up with me and starts telling me the same story all over again.

I was furious, but being pregnant I didn't feel prepared to take the risk of getting into a big arguement with the guy or taking his picture. So I just interrupted him and said he had pulled his trick on me two months ago and left.

Previously on EV Grieve:
East Village grifter alert: Beware the broken vodka-bottle scam!

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do they all use this story or did this same man (same description) happen to accost me with it a couple of years ago by Astor Place (but in the summer)? I could tell he was a sleezeball so I said no. I always regretted not telling the police.

Anonymous said...

The same guy matching your description came up to me on (2nd ave and 9th or 10th street) with a similar story about his kids being in the car down the street and how he will give me his wedding band and phone and drivers license for like $12 or something. I told him I didn't have cash and he immediately told me there is a bank a block away. I told him that I couldn't help him and walked away feeling bad. Now that I hear this, I don't feel so bad anymore!

Anonymous said...

Whoa, he didn't give a dam scamming a pregnant lady...Scum!

Anonymous said...

Same thing happened to me about 6 months ago and sounds like the same guy although he offered me his Go Pass and cell phone. I was skeptical but, like you said, he was your average looking guy and seemed really distraught. I didn't give him money but offered to go to the gas station with him and pay for his gas. At that point he muttered a bunch of excuses and went away.

Anonymous said...

I've been approached by the same guy, same story and wedding ring offer, maybe a year ago around 9th and 2nd. I walked away, but it was reasonably compelling. Hopefully someone will put him out of business!!

Anonymous said...

I met the same guy this summer. 4th street and 1st avenue. I gave him the money and took his watch to hold to. I even gave him my cell and told him to cal me to get it back. I've just spent the last 6 months feeling like a jerk for taking the watch. Finally I decided to donate it to HousingWorks. Thank you for posting!

Anonymous said...

Yep, same here, on the corner of 5th and A. I assumed it was a scam so glad(?) to know I assumed correctly and didn't deny someone help who really needed it.

Goggla said...

About 5 years ago, I was approached by a similar-sounding guy three times in the area telling me about his kid in the car and he'd leave his keys and license with me. He did this once right in front of the 9th Precinct, so I offered to escort him inside to report the trouble and he walked off. I was more offended that he'd done this to me three times and couldn't remember me.

Anonymous said...

Oh jeez...add me to the list. It was about two months ago on the corner of 9th St. & A...kids were in the car, etc. This time he actually had an empty red gas can that he needed to fill up. Props! The problem with his story is that it's needlessly complicated. Why are the kids in the car? Where is the car? Did he want me to watch the kids while he went to the gas station? Or did he want me to go to the gas station? Why was he offering me his cell phone and wedding ring and drivers license? Why didnt he just go to an ATM and get some money? It raises so many questions. And the amount of the request - $28! Why not $30?

You have to keep it simple to be effective.

Anonymous said...

Geeze! so if there are this many EVG readers who have been hit, what do you think is the average on the general population of the neighborhood?
That's incredible!

Anonymous said...

HA! sucker born every minute. jeez people...

Anonymous said...

Is he a white guy with blondish brown hair? There was a guy pulling a similar scam in the neighborhood a few years ago. He approached me in front of the McDonalds on 14th Street a few times, but I can't remember his exact pitch.

Anonymous said...

Disgusting. Losers like this destroy the trust and compassion that is required to help those who are truly in need.

The "props" can get insane. The very last time I fell for such a trick: I was approached by a man in a utility company uniform, carrying a gas can, saying he ran out of gas and he'll get fired if he doesn't get back to work in time. I fell for it and gave him the money. The next day I saw him from a distance in the neighborhood again with the gas can. He saw me and ran.

- East Villager

Eden Bee said...

If he approaches me I am just going to show him this thread.

EV Grieve said...

@ Eden

Haha!

Scott said...

The same guy got me a couple of months back on 10th and C. It was late and I was a little too tipsy, so I decided to take a chance on the guy. I still have that chain sitting in my apartment as a reminder not to be a sucker.

Uncle Waltie said...

They used that line way back in the early 70s. I've been planning to write a book about all the scams and bullshit that used to go on around here. In retrospect, it was always kind of funny.

DrGecko said...

How come nobody has taken this guy's picture? What do people do with their cell phones? Make phone calls or something?

grahamsw said...

There's a great book "Cony Catchers and Bawdy Baskets" about 16th century scams and hustles. Yip, this one is in there.

Anonymous said...

Awesome at least he doesn't sit and beg with a put bull. He probably makes more than me working a 40 hr week at $12/hr facing eviction

Anonymous said...

This exact same man came up to me with the exact same story about 3 months ago on Delancey and Ludlow at around 10 am. I didn't help him, said I was busy and late for work because something didn't feel right. He got huffy and stormed off. I actually felt bad about it at first. After a little consideration, I figured it was a scam. And now I have validation.

Anonymous said...

Ahh! Same guy got me right after Hurticane Sandy! On 11th between A and B.

Anonymous said...

Got me for $40 on Sunday night... Got his cell # though because he called me to return my money. Cell # traced by police to Carmen Martinez. Trying to get 7-11 video footage

lkats said...

He got me too - for $40 this past weekend. He seemed so desperate. Great actor, terrible human.

Anonymous said...

He got me today for $60... Not only was he a good actor but he was also INCREDIBLY desperate and I was so frazzled I didn't really have time to think. If he was arrested he's either back on the street or this is a new guy taking up the mantle. Overweight, balding, 30-40 fits the bill though. I should've known better.

Anonymous said...

Also in addition it was on the lower east side off ludlow and rivington.