Living off of Lark Street in Albany, I've encountered my share of homeless people and beggars.  My heart bleeds for the less fortunate, and I always try to give them a few dollars when I have it.  After watching this viral video of the "fake homeless woman" in Virginia, it got me thinking about experiences I've had with beggars who I just didn't trust.  Can you spot a fake? The following are true encounters:

 

  • A man once approached me asking if I could give him $30 so he could purchase his prescription pills.  Something in my gut told me he wasn't going to be visiting our friendly neighborhood CVS for his next "fix"
  • A man once asked me for a few dollars.  When I told him that I didn't have any cash on me, he pointed out the closest ATM.
  • One time a man asked me for $5.  I told him I only had a $20.  He told me to "wait here" and he would come back with my change.
  • One time I actually gave a guy $5, but he needed more.  Dumbfounded and confused, he actually asked me if I could go upstairs to my apartment, and come back down with more cash
  •  One man told me he was hungry and just wanted a meal.  When I offered him a jar of peanut butter I had in my bag instead of cash, he declined to take it.  "I'll need bread and jelly to eat this sh*t" he told me

I don't have it my heart to follow around a beggar and prove whether or not they're really homeless, money-less, car-less, prescription-less, or bread and jelly-less.  But I do trust my gut, and after all the interesting encounters I've had, my intuition is pretty good.