Ever get the feeling all those sob-story guys and girls get together to make up stories?

Sob Story Guy and Gals

Melinda Green spotted a Sob Story Guy and two Sob Story Girls having a little chat this morning at the Mass. Ave. stop on the Orange Line. She reports:

I've been keeping track of the little blond one's tales of woe for over a year now. Wondering if this is their daily starting point? The little blond one must be the pimp-I-mean-the-brains of the operation. Sometimes she has to get back to Providence for 1-3 kids, sometimes age 7, sometimes age 16.

Oh Christ. A new one just boarded my train. Claims to be HIV positive and needs to get to Fall River.



Free tagging: 


looks like an

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organized crime ring to me. I've seen the short blond before at north station. Someone called her on it and she kept denying and pleading for sympathy until no one gave it to her, then she left.

No Surprise

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The photo explains it all.. WHY would these two sets of people talk, especially if they not even close to their usually hang outs. It has to be organized. Either drug money or something worse.

Im curious, if panhandling is illegal, why haven't the BPD done something about this?

I refuse to give money to ANYONE (not even friends). I'm a firm believer in Karma but eh.. money is tight these days, why give it away.

I usually can spot a scam a mile away the minute you suggest other options. I had one chick (with a Southern Accent) say she was going back to South Carolina. She claims the cash price was different than the credit card price and needed more cash. i told her to walk to staples, use a computer and print out the ticket from online. She seemed to get all miffed that I wasn't buying her story and giving her other options.

I Swear they have an International Sob Story Summit

My husband and I were in line to get tickets from a human at Gare Austerlitz in Paris because our US credit cards wouldn't work in the SCNF automated systems. We only had about 20 minutes to get on a train for Orleans.

No sooner does the woman at the window motion us up from the front of the line than this woman swoops in from the side blocking my path. She's saying something in French, which I don't speak, but I do understand "sick mother" and "train to Tours" and "a few Euros ...". I tried to jump around her, luggage and all while she moves to block me, and then I just shouldered her aside. As we were leaving with our tickets, she was doing this to someone else.

They. are. everywhere! I'm just happy that a fair number of them get bounced in the US when they get as obnoxious as French Sob Story Woman was.

Aren't 'progressives'

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supposed to feel sorry for these lost souls? Of course 99% of them are alcoholic, drug addict and or mentally ill. Our society throws them out into the street. That's our societies way of dealing with the problem. Give them out patient psychiatric meds [which turn them into zombies], methadone, etc. and throw them back into the 'community' [well, the urban community at any rate; some towns and cities simply won't tolerate 'their kind' in their midst, so they send them to Boston, NYC, or some other location that actually has social services available.


'They' exist everywhere. You must have had a sheltered upbringing and life if you were at all startled by the French women hitting you up for Euros in Paris.

And I get the distinct feeling that if they were non-white [especially non-blond white] in that pic, the attitude and response would be different. So, there are other things at play here,also.


Um. no.

Sheltered? Um, not. Grew up in one of those places where people with lots of problems tend to live, actually.

Annoyed that she got in my way? Bemused at the scam? Yes.

Besides, this was France - if her mother were really sick, her mother's doctor could prescribe her presence and get the ticket paid for. (I know someone who was offered this when her mother was ill). Which was probably why she was preying on the line of people who were likely not from France and not familiar with the social welfare resources people have available.

Truth be told, I was actually rather surprised that there were so few scam and pickpocket attempts in Paris, given my experience in Spain less than a year before ...

You should get out more often, anon - seems that your "intuition" about people on the internet is, well, waning.

I 'get out' plenty

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S-Girl. Actually, Paris is FULL of folks like this, preying on both natives and tourist alike. There are PLENTY of homeless in France regardless of socialist policies. I know this from living in France. But, French police are no joke, they don't beat around the bush. They routinely do huge sweeps of 'undesirables' and snatch them off the streets of central Paris. People can be held I think for up to 2 weeks without habeas corpus.

And no one with experience would be the least surprised it happened at a Paris train station.

As for Spain, yes, it's worse. They're experiencing even worse social problems than the recent past, and it's always been worse in this respect than northern Euro nations. Spain and France also deal with high levels of 'illegals', so there's also that.

London is the same if not worse. TONS of pan handlers and homeless.

Did you look at the picture?

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Did you look at the picture? These people are almost certantly not homeless, and their stories usually reinforce this fact. I don't mind throwing some change to a panhandler, but whatever these people are doing is something else entirely. These aren't drifters looking for a big mac and a 40.

Sarkozy may be on to something ...

I wonder if the surprising lack of grifters and pickpockets had something to do with the free plane tickets to Romania courtesy of the French Government ... hmmm.

Maybe we can offer the Sob Story Folks a free ticket to Sobstoria or, maybe, Far Far Away?

Sarko might have been onto something?

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I'd say that so far as the Ecole Nationale d'Administration crowd that populates the French government is concerned, Sarko must have been onto something, because even the new socialist government of Monsieur Hollande has continued that policy.

Incidentally, in my many, many trips to France over the past several years (to Paris and elsewhere) I do not remember being approached by a panhandler or similar more than two or three times. Interestingly, they always approached either with a sign in English or asked if I spoke English. I responded "non, madame, c'est La France!" Even though my French sucks (as you can see) that, remarkably, was enough to send them quickly in another direction.

Who likes being lied to?

I'm a progressive and don't have a problem giving people money. When someone is addicted-- not everyone on the street is--I actually don't care if they spend it on booze or drugs, although for their own health & well being I hope they stop; I know too many people with dependency problems to think that an adult stuck panhandling for it is thinking "Fun times!" And I am lucky to have a place to live, and money to live on. Yeah, I work hard, but mostly it's luck-- I had good teachers, a family that wanted me to be independent, no psychiatric problems that inhibit my ability to function etc. I have that, fortunately for me; I didn't earn it. And I feel for people who aren't so lucky.

However, somebody lying to get money is running a scam, no matter what the money is for. There are big differences in scale and moral depravity between Bernie Madoff and the fake-pregnant woman on the Orange line sometimes, but they're both crooks. Tell me the truth-- or just panhandle me, no story required-- and if I actually have change (rare) I'll give it to you. Insult my intelligence with a stupid manipulative lie and you just irritate me.

I appreciate your honesty

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and agree with you, though I'm not 'liberal' or 'progressive' [or 'conservative'] as defined in the U.S. Anyone pan handling and or homeless can be classified as down on their luck. And you're also right in saying not all homeless are druggies, mentally ill, or ex-cons. And there are laws that make it very difficult for shelters and those looking to help to sort out the riff raff from the sincere.

Does anyone ever challenge them?

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I've been tempted a few times to speak up and challenge their stories (um, if you're looking to catch the bus you're heading the wrong way, or didn't you have 3 kids last time, or whatever) - but I'm always too afraid that calling their bluff might lead to danger if they try to lash back in anger. But has anyone ever been in a situation where one of these hard luck stories was challenged?

I've heard of people calling

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I've heard of people calling them out. Saying something like "Oh, it's 3 kids today? Last week you said you had 7 kids" is usually enough for them to get wide-eyed and take off running. I mean, not RUNNING, but they walk away quickly.


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Robert Paulson (love it) - is NeckTattooCrutches still at it? Wow. She's been working it for years...

I would stand behind her while she was talking to other people motioning and mouthing "NO! SHE'S LYING! DO NOT GIVE HER MONEY!"

I seem to recall someone on

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I seem to recall someone on here saying that one time when a guy was begging for money to get to Worcester or Framingham or wherever, he offered to buy them the ticket (rather than give them cash). They just looked at him annoyed and walked away.

I think I recognize

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the blonde one, she is sometimes around haymarket/n station and asking for money to get somewhere on the north shore. She sometimes has nice clothes on so it looks like she just came from her office job nearby.

As someone said, if you offer to bring them to the ticket counter or to an MBTA employee, they will walk away. If you call them out on their scam they tend to get upset.

the Trail of Tears...

...is what they should rename the Freedom Trail.
I truly do not understand how and why they get to prey on commuters and random travelers alike on a daily basis. Meanwhile the T will waste time hassling the buskers (people playing music or performing) on the platforms to get their permits to play there. I'll happily take the bad Asian recorder guy playing for change any ol' day over the 'OhhhhhhhhhhMyGawd ItsSooooAwwwful IDontMeannnToBotherYouAllNicePeople, but Iiiiiiii....' every day.

maybe if the T got revenue by

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maybe if the T got revenue by selling permits to panhandle they would worry about these folks as much as they hassle the buskers to get permits?

I ignored one of them once

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I ignored one of them once (some teenage boy who supposedly needed money for a bus back to Cambridge), and he started following me and calling me unpleasant names until I said "no comprende ingles." Then he moved on to someone else. I fully realize I got very luckly with that one, I don't really speak Spanish and this kid didn't either apparently.

The ahole ones

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will specifically target only women. They know from experience to not pull that stuff on most guys. I've even observed women target only women, so they know too.

great advice

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Where, specifically, is it in South Station? Or is it the 727 Atlantic Avenue listed on the website?

Yeah, same

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A lot of the people who are panhandling either are connected with services (supported housing, welfare, SSI, etc.) or have left services after being treated shittily. Especially in our state, there really are few people who are eligible for nothing.

If people legitimately need to get somewhere, Traveler's Aid can help them, and if they legitimately need food, there are free meals and food pantries that don't require any documents to get help.

Most people, though, whether they have services or not, just need someone to listen and validate that their life right now really kind of sucks. I think that even if someone is trying to scam people, most people who are in that kind of situation are going to really get something out of someone stopping to listen, agreeing that the situation sucks, and giving them some appropriate advice. You can do just as much by listening as you can by giving them money.

Oh come on, it's a trade, not a predicament.

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The people in question (not all panhandlers by any means) are professional scammers. It's what they do for a living. What they're having with you is a commercial interaction, not a human, social one. There is no more reason to listen to them or give them validation or advice than there is to engage in e-mail chat with the Nigerian princess who wants your help wiring money out of the country.

How happy and healthy

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is a person who makes a living by going out on the streets and scamming people for a few bucks while getting yelled at and called names? This isn't the preferred trade for your garden-variety-no-morals entrepreneur. This is what people do who don't even have the skills to scam people online or overcharge elderly people for odd jobs. Most people don't go around panhandling because it's more ritzy than bagging groceries; they do it because no one will hire them to bag groceries. I've had a lot of clients in mental health programs who do this, and they're people who don't have their shit together enough to apply for a job or hold one very long if they do get one.

Check out downtown

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Same people in the same spots every single day.

They are working a job, but one that supplements their social security disability income or pays more (tax free) dollars than what they would get working in their pay grade.

I don't give ANY of them money. Not because I am a scrooge, but because I am simply judging their act to clean my Karma if I do - the most needy people aren't able to "work" at panhandling every day like the usuals I see.

Want to do something compasisonate? GIVE MONEY TO CHARITIES THAT HELP THE HOMELESS. That way, the money is spent to attack the roots of the problem, and goes as well to those who cannot panhandle - people with kids, people who are more acutely ill, etc.

I'm calling bullshit

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I know one of the guys reasonably well, and I know his back story through some local social service agencies. He and three buddies share an an apartment on which, due to their having very little declared income, they get very cheaply through Section 8. They are successful panhandlers -- personable, non-aggressive, and hard-working, and they stay out of trouble with the law. They clear over $1,000 per day. On that they eat well, live in relative comfort, and sustain expensive recreational drug habits.

These guys have good skills, they have found a line of work that pays better than most. The notion that they "don't have the skills to bag groceries" is ludicrous. Why on earth would they bag groceries, as it would be a huge step down?

When I'm on the subway and one of them gets on

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and says something like "I need $11 to get to Worcester to see my pregnant girlfriend" or something like that I want to shout "Then why did you just spend $2 to get on the subway?"

$11 to get to Worcester to see my pregnant girlfriend

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I spoke up to the "I need $11 to get to Worcester to see my pregnant girlfriend" kid near South Station before. I told an old woman who was about to give him money that his story was fake and that he's there everyday begging for money. He then flipped out and charged me and started screaming in my face. As I walked away he tossed his 7-Eleven Big Gulp at me but missed.

You're my hero

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I would never have the balls to do that. I'm the one who sticks her face further down into the Kindle and makes sure the earbuds are tightly tucked into my ears.

This story is a good reason...

...why everybody should own a Taser. Oh wait, our idiot state government won't allow that.

When a guy who tried to rip off an old lady charges at me, I demand the right to electrocute the piece of crap. Call me weird.


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When I am on a train and one of them starts with the "I need $__ for ____" I call the police and tell them that they can address their problems with the Tcop at the next stop. These people are professional panhandlers/con artists. They deserve to go to jail.

Mostly drug abusers

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Most are nonviolent and finding a way to get a fix that doesn't involve outright theft or violence, so at least there's that.

Unfortunately many of them are not the kind to want to fix their drug problem.

I've always depended

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I've always depended on the kindness of strangers.

Sexism and Guys

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The opposite of "guys" is not "girls." Guys go with gals, women with men, and girls with boys. I point this out only because the use of this language contributes to an undercurrent of permissible sexism. Our culture bends over backwards to protect men from being designated as "boys." "Boys" is a disrespectful term for men over the age of eighteen, and rightfully so --no one wants to be demeaned routinely as being childish. But we need to stop protecting men and start considering the fact that women have as much right to be taken seriously as men. Use "women" for female people over the age of eighteen (even if it means you have to use "men" instead of "boys").

Guys and girls

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I think it should be "Guys and Dolls" given the scammy nature of their enterprise.

Oh for the love of god

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Are "Progressives"

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Programmed to all have the same opinions and actions in all cases? Tell ya what, I'm to the left of "progressive" and scammers don't inspire any warm feelings from me. Why? Because: I pay taxes. The state offers assistance. I'm sure some of these people's real life stories are sad and full of self sabotage, but they are adults, and have a level of responsibility for themselves.


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But many are in the camp that don't want help, so what do you do? I can deal with annoying, as long as they stay non-violent and stick to the civil violations of begging. I never give out cash, but I will buy someone a meal now and then.

drug money?

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why, what you think they're looking for?

I'm with you

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I'm with you. There's a ton of social services out there, if people need help, its there. Our tax dollars pay for this. There's no need to give people money.. none.

Most people who are in need of help, get it because they want help. You can't force someone to get help, they have to do it themselves. Most who don't seek help, don't want it. Mostly because.. as in the case of homeless people not going to shelters... because they don't want to follow the rules to get such services. Or in short, they are just scamming people because they can.

Had it happen at a rest stop on I-95

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My husband and I were getting gas in Conn. at one of the service plazas. Just as he was done pumping gas a guy walks up to him and gives him a sob story about his girlfriend and he getting in an argument and she leaving him there. He was looking for cab fare of about $50. I swear, I got there just in time, because my sweet, sweet husband was going to give it to him. He was shocked when I arrived and told the guy to beat it. He had never heard of the sob story scams.

The comment that responded to go to Travelers Aid was spot on. Also, you could offer to call the police so they can provide the much needed assistance.

Spare Change guy has been

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Spare Change guy has been known to hurl sexually explicit dialogues at women. He's a creep.


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Had it happen, forever changed my perception of him as a socially inept but kind of entertaining guy. I don't think he's a super creep, just deranged.

I hate these guys. If you're

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I hate these guys. If you're going to beg, then beg. I've got a lot of respect for honest pan handlers. Those guys often work pretty hard at it. But don't make up some BS sob story. The other difference between these jerks and legit pan handlers is that a legitimate bum will generally stake out a spot and just ask passerby for money. They're not hassling you on your way to/from work.

My wife ran off with Bigfoot!

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Guy at South Bay traffic light had this sign. I gave him all the change in my car. A good amount.
I asked if him if he wanted her back.
He said, "she's all tore up, now."


I was westbound on the

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I was westbound on the Masspike yesterday. Stopped at the 1st plaza coming out of Boston. (Natick?) There was a guy sitting outside the doors with a dog. He had a hand made card board sign: "Heading for Virginia, need money for food & gas". I gave the guy five bucks...now I wonder if he's there everyday pulling the same act?

My favorite was the time I

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My favorite was the time I was in Charlestown walking up Monument Street, when a perfectly able-bodied 30-something male approaches my girlfriend and I, asking for money for a fare to get to South Station. South Freaking Station. I gave him my typical "Sorry, we don't carry cash" line, and he proceeds to ask us to walk to the T station with him to buy him a ticket with our credit cards. Perplexed, I scoffed and told him that we had walked to Charlestown from the Back Bay (which in fact we did), and said he'd be at South Station in 30 minutes if he started walking right away. Of course he didn't take kindly to that advice and started to curse us for being "inconsiderate" and not caring about his 6-year-old daughter's birthday party in which he was late for. Just another reason why I never give money to anyone, anytime.

The winner for me

Was the middle-aged drunk who'd obviously had a fall or been rolled recently who needed some extra money "to get his Bechstein out of the shop." A good laugh is worth a couple bucks to me.


I'm pretty sure I saw the woman on the left walking the yellow line at Alewife early afternoon yesterday (not where I'd want to be walking). Didn't catch what was on her cardboard sign.