walking through Times Square circa the 1980‘s when you notice a small crowd
gathered on a side street cheering someone on. You see a gentleman standing
behind a table throwing three bent playing cards over one another, spitting out
his well rehearsed spiel: “Come on, come on, let’s go. You ready? All you have
to do is find the red ace. Remember there’s two black cards, one red ace, find
the ace and you win.”
you get drawn into playing the game and you do win—at first. Then you start
putting your money on the table, and you win some more. You double your bet,
and that’s your downfall, because you’re being scammed. These guys are in
cahoots, luring you to play so that eventually you lose, big time.
scam is long gone, at least from the area around my building, but scam artists
still exist and they roam your neighborhood, forever proving there’s a sucker
born every minute. Here are some of the better ones I’ve met up with during my
regular eight-hour shift.
sickly, just-got-their-stuff-stolen scam Okay, I got caught by this one. I was a part-timer,
new at the job and some gentleman walked up to the doors one night. He looked
dispirited. He explained that he worked in the area and his locker was broken
into. He was a diabetic and his belongings consisted of his wallet, medical
supplies including insulin, needles and blood tester. He even had I.D. stating
he was diabetic. He needed some money to get home and I felt bad. I shelled out
$5. Four months later, the same gentleman walks by and approaches the door. He
tells me that he works in the area and his stuff was stolen from his locker and
yada, yada, yada. Not this time bud.
equipment at low, low prices scam A van circles the neighborhood. One guy from the
passenger-side window yells out if you’re interested in buying a home theater
system. It’s directly from the warehouse and they have three extra they want to
get rid of. They go for like $800 in the stores, but you can have it for $100,
negotiable. What’s not negotiable is whether the system works when you get it
home and they’ve gone to another universe far, far away.
jackets better than Fonzarelli’s variation Possibly the same van, but this time they’re
telling some story about an expo at the Jacob Javits Center and how it’s going
to cost them a fortune to have some jackets shipped back, and by the way they
have to be on a plane this evening. The jackets regularly cost $500 and up, but
they’ll accept $50, even $40. Ask them if you can put a small piece of the jacket over a lighter or lighted match. If they say yes, chances are the leather is real, since leather shrinks from a flame without forming a hole. If they say no, tell them to go someplace so hot no jackets are needed.
The family that preys together scam This one takes the cake. A family
of four, hubby seems to be looking at a map and they’re lost. The mother is
half asleep, dead tired from tending to the kids, who are so exhausted they’re
walking in their sleep. They’re from out West, they tell you, looking for some
place to sleep for the night, a cheapish hotel. Problem is, they’ve run out of
cash and it’s late. Are your heartstrings tugged yet? If anything, I give
credit to the kids. Emoting a state of catatonia for a whole day should merit
some kind of reward.
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