How the Con Game Was Foiled

Posted: March 7, 2015 in cell phone, con artists, homeless, scam, storytelling

It was shortly after lunch on a gorgeous 62 degree day in downtown Jackson a few weeks ago. I’d had a somewhat satisfactory meal and I was on my way to an appointment when I was approached by a man in the parking lot of the restaurant.

 He had a beard in serious need of grooming. His clothes appeared dirty and tattered a bit yet he had a kind and gentle demeanor to himself. “Excuse me, sir,” he started, “but may I ask for your help?” “What’s going on?,” I asked. “I’m from Tupelo and I’m stuck down here. I don’t have any money and I don’t have means to get in touch with my family. Is there a way you can help me out?,” he asked.

I’m thinking to myself that I don’t have time for his sob story. Although there are people on the streets who truly need help, there are a ton of others who are just lazy or are con artists. It’s difficult to determine which is which, so I choose to donate my time to charity rather than money most of the time. I don’t know if the guy could sense my reluctance or not, but he continued with his story. “Sir, if I could just get a couple of dollars then it could go a long way towards me getting home. My mom…” (a muffled, generic ring tone plays) I tilted my head one-sided a la a German Shepherd when I heard a ring tone coming from the man’s jacket. He took a deep sigh and without ever taking his eyes of me, he reached into his jacket and pulled out a cell phone. Not just a cell phone, but a smartphone. Not just a smartphone, but a really nice smartphone!

It appeared to be an HTC M8 which was something that I wanted at one time. He silences the ring tone and places the phone back inside his pocket. His eyes never left me throughout he process. I took my eyes off of his jacket and refocused on his face. He had this look of defeat that was priceless! And if we were on cue, at the same time we both erupted in laughter. Me and this “homeless” dude laughed for a good 30 seconds as if we were sitting front row at a Chris Rock comedy show.

How many homeless people have HTC smartphones? And he had no way to get in touch with his family? This guy was one of the reasons a lot of people shun the homeless and needy. A lot of us think that we’re being taken advantage of to line the pockets of someone who doesn’t need it, someone who will drink/smoke the money up, or someone who is just too lazy to work.  It’s a shame because there are those out there who truly need help and can’t get the boost that they need to get back into society. Despite all of that, I wasn’t angry with this guy because I was too busy laughing at how his con game was foiled.

As I turned to walk off, still laughing and wiping tears from my face, the guy says, “I guess I should turn that ringer off, huh?” I never even looked back as I agreed, “Yeah, you should!”

 I’m guessing that if I ever run into that guy again in downtown Jackson that he will definitely remember me. And I’m sure that we’ll laugh all over again.

  1. Vinny C says:

    Busted! I've had one or two or those “sob story” guys come up to me too. The most popular tales are the “I have a terminal disease & was about to end my life before I saw you coming down the street” & “I came to this part of the country to start a new job but I have no way of getting ALLLLL the way back home.” I was approached by the same guy THREE times & he's used both of these stories on me. The third time I didn't even let him start. I just told him find someone else.

  2. Quincy S says:

    I had a repeat offender once as well! He gave me the same story within a week's time. It makes it hard for someone who truly may need help.

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