Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Panhandler Scams This Holiday Season

New scams have been hitting the streets of Roanoke but they aren't really new per-say, just been placed into the spotlight. I'm talking about parking lot scams, you may have heard about them, someone is in the parking lot of a store or gas station and they claim they are broke down, they need money because they ran out of gas or they're looking for cab fair money to get to the other-side of Roanoke.

These once over scams have become more of an issue in recent months and many of you have spoken out about it.Today I'm going to share with you just a few of the more popular scams that have hit the Roanoke Valley so you can be aware of them during this holiday season.

#1. Need Gas Money

Many have reported locally that people will come up to you at gas stations like the Kroger at Cave Spring or the Valley View Kroger gas pumps asking for money. The scam goes something like this:

You get out of your car and your starting to get your gas, a person approaches and they state they need a few bucks in gas money in order to get going again. more times than none, the scam involves the person car or truck and it's parked at the pump.

The idea is for you to give them a few dollars to feel sorry for them and if money is given they head towards the storefront in order to "put X amount on the pump" they are located at. However, what they do instead is they simply hide in the store or head to the restroom for a few minutes. Once you leave they head back out and do it over and over again.

Sometimes they don't have a car and claim it's down the street. More times than none they are simply wanting a drug or booze fix so beware. The best thing you can do is just say you don't have any cash.

#2. Car "Broke" Down Scam / Family Traveling Scam

We actually had this scam roll through Vinton and Valley View mall not too long ago. A family and
usually a minivan, this scam involves a family being parked towards the rear of a parking lot with the family hanging out or playing around the van with the mother while the father holds a sign asking for 'gas' food or anything to help them fix their van.

The idea here is a play on your emotions, you know..... for the kids. What the kids there don't realize is that they're being pawned as a father, whom most times is simply a relative, works the scam. They are banking that you will see the kids and help them just to get them out of the cold or the hot sun if its in the winter time.

I mean how convenient that they just happen to have a sign as they came to the mall stating they had no gas, food, etc.

Normally, more times than none, these families are traveling gypsy like people, the van has out of state plates and they travel the US doing this scam for as long as they can in any given area. Check out this video below of a guy who calls out a family knowing that they are scamming others.

#3. Fake Panhandler Scams

 People like these are regulars, you can often spot them in the same locations over and over again until people wise up and realize that they're a sham. Many have mental issues like the guy that set the 711 on fire over the weekend in Salem, if you listen to his videos you can clearly see that he has issues. He was not only homeless but he's been in and out of jail and mental hospitals like Catawba.

How to Best Survive the Holidays

My best advice, DONT  carry cash when you're out shopping this holiday season and do not give people any money, no matter how sorry you feel for them.

Yes, there ARE people in REAL need.

If you want to make a difference, give to a local charity, we have plenty here in SWVA including our own Blessing Bag Program. Make sure they're a 501c3 nonprofit and listed with GuideStar before you give a donation of any amount.

Want to help out another way, click on an advertisement at the top of this article, it helps put a few cents into the bag program.


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