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« Cafe Oleh | Main | Nuns Gone Wild »



I'll say you gave him the money but said you didn't need to be paid back. You wouldn't give a complete stranger your address, would you?


I think you gave it to him. If it was a scam he certainly worked hard enough at it to earn $9.

I gave a homeless guy $0.89 a few years ago. He said "I'm 89 cents short for a bottle of wine, can you spare some change?" I figured he'd done the math and was honest about his intentions, he deserved it.


$7. Why would he need the $2 to get back to the train after being home, where everyone has something stashed somewhere? And maybe you gave him your work address? So he'd have to sign in with the doorman, I mean. :)


Was he cute? Did you give him your phone number?


You could buy the ticket for him or hire a cab for him. I think you gave him the money because really how can you turn that down even if you think its 50/50 a scam.


I don't know what you did, but I would have said no. The more elaborate the explanation, the more likely it is that someone is lying. If he *was* legit, the fact that he was name dropping a prestigious school is obnoxious. It's like saying, "I'm not one of those of homeless people, who clearly have no education whatsoever."

If you gave him money, though, my guess is that you gave him either one dollar or two, depending on what you had with you. The big question after that is if you stood around watching him to see what he did next. My guess for that is no, but if you did, please do tell.


You told him to screw off-- couldn't he call someone collect and ask them to come get him? Or you offered to make a call for him. Or to hot-wire his car for him. Or to call the police, to prove the car was his...

When I was around twelve I went into the city by myself. A well-dressed man stopped me in Grand Central at a subway entrance, explained his wallet was just stolen, and asked for a subway token. I gave it to him, and when I got home, thinking I did a good deed, I told my brother. Who described the guy.

It wasn't the last time I felt stupid.

A few years ago a very attractive woman, maybe the female equivalent of the man you described, used to board trains in Grand Central and tell people that she lost her purse and needed money for a ticket to Always Someplace That Particular Train Didn't Go. I was horrified at how many men (she always approached men) just handed her cash.

Thieves sometimes take stuff when you're not looking. Sometimes they take stuff by preying on your desire to believe you're helping someone. Either way, they're thieves.

Sorry if I'm wrong and you gave him money.

Barefoot Jewess

I haven't read the comments. At first glance, I would have given him some money. Maybe a dollar. I think you gave him nothing or a dollar at best.

For a guy who seems so well off, he knows the transportation route really well, and what he needs, down to the dime.

Secondly, he has a cell phone. He could have phoned a friend to pick him up. No friggin way would he have to bum money off someone.

Thirdly, even without a cell, I am sure Starbucks would have let him use their phone or people there would have lent/given him the money.

Fourth, he could go to a branch of his bank and withdraw money from his account.

I think it was a scam.


Let's seee, his bag was stolen - while he was in Starbucks - and now he's out on the street asking strangers for money, and their home addy? Yeah, right.

If his bag was stolen, in Starbucks, where were the cops? And where was the Starbucks staff?

He's not new to town if he's "practically a partner at big name firm", so he knows people locally.

On a Sunday morning, he knew there was a good chance that anyone he met near the Starbucks was going there or had been there, and used that as part of his routine to get *you* to lower your guard and empathize with *him* ("Oh, another Starbucks lover! Poor guy.")

He's a practiced street con artist. If you thought he was good, he deserved 25 to 50 cents for the show - but don't take out a wallet or a purse! (And maybe give him a fake name and the address of The Sherry-Netherland.)

Don't be surprised if you see him again.

For sure a scam. I'da offered to call the police for him.


My first instinct was to believe his story and to guess that you probably gave him the $9 and not your address, but I don't know your instincts well enough to know for sure. Gullible me probably would have given him the money, or at least a dollar or two.
I've often wondered what an honest person should do in a situation where they are suddenly penniless and in need of transportion. Certainly if one's possessions were stolen, the first call should be to the police, and hopefully they would at least give you a ride home as a consolation prize.
On the other hand, if one simply forgot one's wallet or lost it, what should one do? In smaller cities, where people are likely to get the same bus driver on a regular basis if they ride the same route, I imagine they could beg for a one-time free ride, and a nice driver would probably let them on the bus. In brutally anonymous NY, one might be degraded to begging for cash. Of course, I think I'd rather wait an hour in the rain for a friend to come rescue me than start begging on the street for money.

annabel lee

If his stuff were stolen at Starbucks, he should have gone to the manager. The manager likely would have provided at least subway/bus fare as a gesture of goodwill. I'd say the guy's a complete scam artist. I hope you gave him nothing. Or maybe you offered him the $9 -- but insisted on taking his cell phone as collateral.


Seen this one before. Well-dressed person comes up to you and says "Hi, I'm a big lawyer but my wallet was stolen/locked all my stuff in my car/whatever and I need $XX.XX to take the train back to where I can get help.

Hope you didn't give him too much..

Some Loser

You werent born yesterday Ester so I think you'd see this as a scam but even a smart woman can be charmed out of her $$$ (and other things too ;-) ) so I'm not sure what my answer should be but I'll go with my gut and say you didnt give him any dough.

PS Next he'll be a vet just discharged from the Army after a year in Iraq and blah blah blah...


One more thing-- no attorney would EVER describe himself to a stranger as "Practically a partner..."


I think this is first time I can honestly say that I wasn't the most cynical person in a discussion. Damn, I must be getting soft in my old age. Back to curmudgeon school for me...


you gave him 10 bucks. never heard from him.

BTW - Right out of college can still be an adolescent, it depends on who it is, right out of college is no so adult...

So, what did you do?

Also, Miss Manners addressed this today:

--Pearatty (sorry for the long url -- I don't know how to do that fancy link-y thing.)

Donald Trumpowitz Jr.

Oy, I've been trying to track you down to pay you back. Thanks for the shekels. You wouldn't to get together for a bacon cheeseburger and a mikshake, woulja?

Donald Trumpowitz Jr.

Sorry about that. I generally pay people to do my spelling for me.


Is this a religious quiz? Because I seem to recall the Talmud saying something about how you're supposed to help in this situation because there is a chance that the person truly is needy. Although I think the Talmud was referring to feeding a poor beggar, not helping a (presumably phoney) millionaire get home (scam you).

Next time this happens to me, I'm calling the police. ON him, not FOR him.


Sure, no problem - just leave your cell phone with me and here's $20 to borrow.

What, you mean you don't trust me?


Had a very similar situation in Harvard Square recently -- perfectly coifed woman of a certain age, gives me a total song and dance about her lost purse, must go to NH to take her sister to the hospital, needs $14 for the train etcetcetc. Woulda been a tad more credible had she not REEKED of alcohol -- at 10AM on a Sunday.
My bet is that you did something like what I did: you did not believe it, but figured it was a way for him to bum a few bux w/o appearing to do so, and that, on that basis, you gave him somewhere between $1 and maybe $5 -- and let him think that he'd scammed you, for the sake of his [marginal] self-esteem.
I sure hope you didn't exceed $5 at the outside, though. And I SURE hope you did not give him a real address! But if you had a safe maildrop, that woulda proven interesting, on the 1-in-8-Million shot that the story was true.
So: you gonna aqctually come clean on what you did do, now? Inquiring minds want to know!

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