Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Probably the best scam going

Maybe it was the mood I was in, having to hoof it in piss-pour rain to catch the 10:13 (as in PM), or that I fell victim to this scam once before ... but I blew off a guy tonight looking for a hand-out.

I was accosted by a dude tonight outside the Bay Street Teamway who gave me this long-winded story about losing his wallet and needing a GO bus ticket back to Barrie and that he was down here visiting his mom blah blah blah, and could I lend him the last 10 bucks? He then proceeds to show me what he's collected so far, being sure to emphasize that he's "not a bum".

In the Fall of 2008, I was approached by a guy in a suit outside the ACC who fed me a similar sob story about having come to Toronto for a job interview from London, only to lose his wallet and he was short 20 dollars for his VIA ticket.

I gave him the money.

Only a few months later, just after Christmas, I saw this d-bag again, pulling the same routine outside the Union bus terminal.

I marched over and asked him how much he needed. This time it was 40 dollars.

I took out my phone and said we should call his wife (this was part of the 'story' - needing to get home to the wife and kids) and ask her to call VIA and reserve a ticket for him by credit card. He stared at me blankly and made up some BS excuse that they just moved into a new home and he couldn't remember the phone number. So, I said, how about a cell number for the wife? Guess what? She doesn't have one. Where's his? I ask. Again, doesn't have one.


So I said I would go with him to the counter and pay the difference for his ticket with my credit card. He then asks if I would consider buying the whole ticket so he could use the cash he's collected to buy food, because he hasn't eaten all day. I said I'd buy him a sandwich. He said he didn't want to put me out.


Two to one, he'd turn around and refund that ticket or at least try to. GO tickets are refundable and I've learned this is also part of this scam. These d-bags will take anyone up on their offer to buy a GO ticket only to refund it once the duped soul has left, telling the ticket agent they're now getting a ride home from a friend.

You may have seen these scammers actually come onto the train asking for money for tickets. Don't give them any.

I know there are people who legitimately find themselves in such a situation and will ask for help but these people would be asking people standing near a ticket counter, not out on the street.

Once the guy finished his story, I answered him in French.

Good book, eh? See ya later!


Julia said...

Oh my gawd! I had this happen to me. I didn't realize it was a scam. Only he didn't say Barrie. He said Milton.

TomW said...

I've seen a variant on this where the guy (dressed in a nice suit) offers you his buisness card so you can call him to reclaim the money. (Card is fake, of course).

Also, single-ride, two-ride and day passes aren't refundable - onyl 10-ride and monthly passes are. So buying them an actual GO ticket is a good option if you're not sure.

Dan said...

The sad thing is if someone ever did lose their wallet and needed help getting home, they might have a harder time finding someone willing to help them.

I guess that's what happens when too many try to take advantage of others kindness.

gary said...

In the grand scheme of things, it's a pretty brilliant scam because you are counting on the kindness of others to make it work.

But I agree with Dan, it's evil in that it hardens us and makes us weary of charity to strangers when we're burned by people who carry them out.

Anonymous said...

yeah it's totally a scam..

one time i only had debit to buy a bus ticket somewhere at three am and the ticket counter was closed and the machine for whatever reason was also closed (???) and i was totally stranded .. and the cleaning staff totally offered (without me asking) to give me the $40 or whatever it was to take the bus along with her address so i could send her a cheque when i got i took her up on it.. it was the nicest thing anyone has done for me ..

and it also goes to show that it's obvious when that kind of messed up-edness happens

Anonymous said...

This is another example of a ruse to engage riders into dialogue about aspects that affect riders.

It's brilliant but so fake.

Here's the rest of my comment about this:

I know I've emailed you at great length about my suspisions about this website and it's legitimateness.

I'll be surprised if you don't delete this comment but the more I read the more I am convinced this is a massive social media experiement by Metrolimx to draw out GO customers and find out how they feel about their rider experience.

There is no way an average joe-blow commuter would spend the money and time it takes to create such a site without the backing a huge corporation.

I'm just not sure how it ties into helping GO make more money or increase ridership. I mean, why would you care about parking lot renovations at a station you don't use? (pause for emphasis) My point exzactly.

It reminds me of the wig-out viral video from a few years ago where the bride to be pulls off a wig to reveal she's bald. I don't remember what product it was for.

Eventually the packaging will come off.

Don't get me wrong, from a marketing perspective this blog is brilliant but no one person can pull it off except for a team of writers.

If I'm wrong, but I don't thing I am, then I'm wrong.

But I am sure the reveal is coming.

C.J. Smith said...

Keep dialing up the crazy, anon.

The only reveal that is coming is letting the world know how dense you are.

Dan said...

Geez, we live in the day and age where anyone and their cat can create a blog about anything and post on a mobile device from anywhere anytime. It's not like it requires deep pockets and loads of staffing.

If one wants a "massive social media experiement by Metrolimx to draw out GO customers and find out how they feel about their rider experience", check out the feel-goody "Get On The GO" facebook page.

Hannah said...

but I blew off a guy tonight looking for a hand-out

I sooo read that wrong.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Hannah, ahah I totally misread that. Though I have experienced that guy and he asked me for a ticket to Barrie; the bus line I ride to and from home every night. I merely told him "Oh I use a student pass... I don't buy tickets." and he looked confused and walked away.

Anonymous said...

I have the same opinion with most of your points, however some need to be discussed further, I will hold a small talk with my buddies and perhaps I will ask you some opinion later.

- Henry

Anonymous said...

I've heard similar stories like this before. My experience went like this:

"Hey man, I hate to bother you but I'm having a really rough day. You see, I'm
just getting back from the hospital; visiting my mom who's receiving cancer
treatment. I've been here since yesterday, because I missed my bus. GO won't
refund my ticket."

I keep staring. I know he could get a refund, and that if he bought a two-ride
he could take the other one today. I let him finish.

"I was late catching the bus, because I was receiving my meth drink at the
hospital. I've been here since yesterday, I'm really tired and haven't had
anything to eat for hours. " He continues.

Oh. Meth drink, huh. 'They have that now,' I think to myself. D-Bag continues.

"I'm trying to get some money together so I can get back on the bus to Barrie.
Most people in this town are a bunch of assholes, but you look fairly straight.
I need help collecting more money for a ticket, since GO won't let me ride the
bus today."

"What pass did you buy?" I ask. "If you had bought a two-ride, you could have
taken the return trip any time you want." Realizing that actually being
rational was a mistake, I felt I'd stop providing helpful suggestions.

"Well, GO won't refund my ticket, you see. I can't use my ticket from
yesterday." He repeats.

I had called bullshit from the moment he approached. I've heard this story
before, and I've seen other people be approached and told variations of this
story. I wasn't about to be any more helpful as his only goal is to obtain
cash. It doesn't matter that you try to explain how GO works, or consider that
perhaps he only bought a day pass, or a single-ride only; perhaps, giving him
the benefit of the doubt.

I merely told him, "Sorry buddy. Wish I could help you, but I don't have any
cash on me. I never carry my wallet around Toronto because I've been mugged
before and don't want that to happen again."

That line was as much bullshit as his story, but what is he going to do, call
on my bullshit? No. He wants my money. Doesn't matter, he didn't get it. I
was also standing in an area that had lots of people around, so I was aware
that if he could try to call my bluff, he's going to have a lot of witnesses
watching me mop the concrete with this face.

Sad part of all this is that when someone is in real trouble, they might not
get the help they deserve.

However, it is possible to figure out if their story is legit or not. You just
need to keep quiet and let that person keep talking. The more they talk, the
more they reveal BS.

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