I’m proud to be a member of a Military family, so this post over at Prince of Petworth immediately got my attention– one of his intrepid readers managed to photograph an alleged scam-artist on the Metro:
He asked for $60 for a bus ticket back to Quantico…This was on the Red Line…the elements of the story were that he was away from base, he had been mugged or pickpocketed (could not hear which), and he needed $60 to get back. He got off the train at Judiciary Square saying something about needing to catch the train back the other direction, but I think he may have seen me take the picture. Immediately after the scammer got off the train, there was another man who was wearing his uniform who realized what just happened and told the woman that she shouldn’t have given him the money, because if he was actually in the military the scammer would have gone to the fellow military guy first thing.”
I spoke to two Veterans, one from the Air Force and one from the Army about this situation, to find out what would actually happen to someone in the Military if they were stranded. Bottom line? They wouldn’t be panhandling for bus fare, ever, so beware:
I would ask to borrow someone’s phone or ask them to make a call for me. I’ve done that before, even in foreign countries. If there’s another member of the Military, I’d go to them, first. If not, then I’d ask someone else. I’d never ask for money. Someone in that situation would not need it. You’re supposed to call your sponsor or first Sargent, whoever your point of contact is…he’s preying on people’s sympathy.
Even if you’re new to the military you still have a point of contact. I was never without one. In his case, they would’ve had someone come out and pick him up, because he’s local. It’s just Quantico to D.C. Bottom line is, no one in the military would be in this situation. Somebody would come pick you up. Worse comes to worst, go to law enforcement if you’ve been mugged and have no I.D. They will always help.
The retired Army Officer said:
There is an annex one mile from the Pentagon. He could’ve taken the metro to that. He could’ve asked for metro fare, if he was desperate and without funds. Asking for money to catch a bus back to base? It doesn’t happen that way, period.
It’s unfortunate that this man is exploiting the public’s sympathies this way. According to the comment thread on Prince of Petworth, he’s a familiar sight around town. The positive way to look at it is that it’s nice that Washingtonians are so willing to help someone who seems to be in need.