Ok, Many thanks to Jan for making me welcome to this most interesting site, i.e. she answered my first note.
New thread - I'd like to ask if this scenario is familiar to anyone:
Longish haired (blonde) man, early thirties, casual clothes looking very lost/confused. Asks me late afternoon on Sunday in the Borough area if I've seen a certain kind of bike (as if I should know from the name that this particular bike is very expensive, i.e. >£2000) as he's had it nicked along with the panniers - mobile phone, wallet with train ticket etc. from the local church yard (!) and can no longer get home to xxxx....on his story goes and obviously he needs money as he's not been allowed to get the train home by the nasty guards on duty etc.
The story is longer, well orated and though I knew the odds to be very small on this, at the time, possibly believable.
I DID give him some money, justifying to myself that it was Sunday after all (charitable feelings) and there may just be the possibility of a fellow human in a real one-off need - to go through all that I guessed even if it was a con he must be pretty desperate... but maybe he's at it all day, every day - maybe you know someone else who's had a similar encounter.
Anyway, I thought it an interesting enough story on it's own.
I encountered a similar sort around the back of Guys Hosp couple of years ago. Claimed wife just had baby, his car's been towed away and he just needs some money for train fare to get home! I didn't believe him and walked away and saw him once or twice using the same sob story in the following months!!! Con Trick - Yes!
I have had the same story from distraught man about wife in hospital with sick baby and needing to get there urgently. I would have given him some change but didnt have any on me, same man approached me a week later with the same story.....
I was also accosted by a man who claimed to have run out of petrol for his motorbike and just needs a little money to get home, same man, same story a month later.
Basically anyone who asks for money in the street no matter how credible their story is conning you.
Also watch out for white van men selling studio quality speakers...
Had the same confused guy on Weston Street, although his story this time was that he was a live in carer for an old lady who had just died, so he needed to get home to north London. He had his bike stolen and so needed money. He said he need £20 and would pay me back. He wanted my address to send the money to and offered me some kind or identification card (picture was badly damaged and didn't look like him). Bless him, he was really trying it on so I gave him £2.00 for a single to zone 2 for all his pathetic efforts.
I too had the 'run out of petrol' story, but his car was parked around the corner on a yellow line, he was worried in case he got a ticket.......I gave him all the change I had in my pocket, (I never get my purse out in these circumstances) I walked away thinking, I've been conned. it's reassuring to think I was not the only one!
mind you he's obviously wasted, he should be a politician, changing his theme slightly as he goes along!
When he approached me, he was a doctor and had just been paged to rush urgently to Guy's Hospital. It was outside Waterloo Station on Waterloo Road, and he needed money for a cab. He was very good (inthe five seconds it took to walk past him) but the stories above seem more believable.
Isn't a pity that someone in genuine need probably wouldn't approach people for fear of being thought to be a con-artist.
I'm curious now about the white van man and the speakers James mentions...I could do with a new set but I get the impression this is not the chap to deal with......
On my original story though, I'm in two minds now. On the day and after I felt I didn't mind about whether it was a con as the fellow was obviously pretty desperate, and maybe he was/is.
Now however, having read the above and with a little hindsight, I think the chap is just a very good con artist - he should actually be gracing the stage of one of the local theatres to be honest, because he really did put the effort in, (maybe he is).
However, the bad bit is that I might now walk on past someone of genuine need and I hate that possibility. If someone was genuinely in such a need that they felt they had to approach a stranger for help I now don't know how I would react - On John's note, it is a pity that someone in genuine need probably wouldn't approach people, but the biggest pity is that if they did they'd probably get rebuffed by the hard faced people we are being turned into by con men like the above.
The white van thing is definitely a con, I know someone who fell for it and have been approached myself. The gist of the con is ....
Somebody in a van asks you if you know anything about hifi/speakers and then goes on to tell you that he has been installing speakers in a recording studio or a club and that he has an extra pair of speakers that aren't on his docket.
This is usually accompanied with a mock up of a richer sounds catalogue showing the speakers as high quality and very expensive. Because he wants to get rid of them he will sell them to you much cheaper than list for cash.
Anyway this friend of mine bought a pair (no it wasnt me) and says they are ok, but I bet they didnt cost a fraction of what he paid for them.
Moral of the story : err, you're better of getting your speakers via richer sounds...
As to your original story, definitely a con, what sort of idiot would leave an expensive bike in a churchyard with the panniers on it and wallet and mobile in the panniers (presumably), especially around here!
I agree that it is terrible that people in genuine trouble will get the cold shoulder and you should judge each case on its individual merits. Trouble is once you've "invested" the time to hear someone out, its difficult to extricate yourself from the situation once you realise all is not what it seems.
I didnt say it was the same person but some of the other posters think they have encountered the same guy.
Some could be genuine but I have encountered a number of people who gave the same story on different days.
Did anyone ever see the guy that used to run from car to car on blackfriars bridge (outside the express building) carrying a petrol can and asking for money?
A cabbie told me he had been done for assaulting a cab passenger who told him off.