We reported in today’s (free) newsletter (you can subscribe here) about a scam involving fake violin players panhandling in parking lots across the nation. I heard they were at Sprouts in Sahuarita on Tuesday but they’d packed up by the time I arrived.
After the newsletter came out today, somebody visiting Safeway on Duval Mine Road sent a photo — “They’re here now!” I headed over and took a photo of this couple — he “playing” the violin, she holding the obligatory woe-is-me sign. They had at least two kids in the van.
Then I proceeded to tell people who were approaching to give them donations that this is a scam. He’s not really playing the violin (nice recording though) and it’s just a way for lazy people to tug at heartstrings and sneak off with some tax-free cash.
I then approached and told the guy that I knew he wasn’t playing the violin and asked, “Why are you lying to people?” His response surprised me: “Italiano. No English.”
I spoke to him in perfectly passable Spanish, which I think startled him, but still got a blank stare. Play dumb — great way to avoid responsibility. Except the language-barrier ruse is just another lie and I told him so. I also said (in two languages) that I was staying there until they left, then proceeded to wave off more grateful people, pointing them to the nearby Salvation Army red kettle if they wanted to give and keep... (More)