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Published On: Sat, Aug 7th, 2010

A scam going on in Tampa: are the panhandlers at the main intersections actually homeless?

With more and more Florida cities instituting bans on panhandling, or begging, it appears that Tampa’s major intersections are flooded with panhandlers donned in the safety vests.

photo/ Alvin Decena

But how many of them are truly homeless and suffering hard times tugging at the heartstrings of drivers passing by, and how many are scam artists making a vibrant, tax-free living playing on the generosity of working citizens?

Several things have pushed me into writing about this. Today was the kicker as I was driving south on Dale Mabry Highway waiting at the light at the Gandy intersection, I spotted a female panhandler trying to inconspicuously send a text message on her cell phone partially hidden behind her cardboard sign saying “Need Help”.

Call me naive, but if a homeless person is down-on-their-luck, they typically cannot afford a cell phone and have no permanent address to receive the bill. It was also very interesting that she tried to hide the use of a cell phone. You got something to hide?

About one week ago, I was listening to a radio program which was highlighting the influx of panhandlers in Tampa. What really pissed me off was call after call of men calling bragging about doing this for money.

One man called saying he is not homeless and panhandles to the tune of $300 per day, tax-free! Another able-bodied man said he is also not homeless and in fact works full-time but when he has nothing to do on a Saturday, he’ll spend a few hours on the streets panhandling. He specifically stated that he just spent three hours panhandling to the sum of $70, which he referred to as “beer money”!

Another story that will burn you up is that of a woman that works at Sachs 5th Ave at Westshore Mall. She would notice the same man panhandling near the mall everyday as she went to work at the mall. Many times she gave the man a buck or two to “help him out”.

One day she recognizes the same man shopping in the luxury department store so she payed very close attention. The panhandler that she saw a few hours ago on the street had just bought 3 very expensive suits! The woman I’ll call Jenny, being frustrated, says to herself “I work here and I can’t afford the three suits he just bought”.

Curious and a little pissed, she watches the man to the parking lot where he got into his new BMW!

If these stories don’t grind your gears, I don’t know what will. People in this city are generous in helping those in trouble whether it is donating to Metropolitan Ministries or the Salvation Army, and the generosity is also extended to homeless on the streets. But no one wants to be played.

Unfortunately the people who really need it may at some point suffer as more people become aware of the scam thrust upon them. The scam of able-bodied men and women, instead of working a job, choose this easy, tax-free method to make money.

Have they no shame?

photo By marco iacobucci

photo/ Roman_23203 via Adobe Stock license

photo by Milan Rout via Pexels

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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