Watch out for this guy

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In my nearly three years living in downtown and Over-the-Rhine, there has not been one panhandler who has bothered me as much as this guy. Wednesday he sort of pushed me over the edge, so I went up to him, said “Hey!,” he looked at me and I took the photo above with my cameraphone. Watch out for him.

He’s very convincing. He’s got about three stories – by his own admission – which are all pretty good and surprisingly often yields several dollars from those he approaches. An acquaintance a few years ago gave him $10 because he felt so sorry for him.

Imagine my surprise when I saw him the next evening doing the same thing. We were duped; I could not believe how convincing he was.

My problem is that he is a con, lies about his situation relying on people’s sympathies and is breaking the law, plus hurting the other panhandlers who are actually obeying the law, like ’em, love ’em or not.

That was the situation yesterday. He was on Fountain Square and all around 5th & Vine streets, hustling from corner to corner, walking up to anyone and everyone. If anything, it’s impressive to see him work so quickly.

In the past I have seen him wearing a college ballcap and he tells this sad story about being a student at U.C. or Xavier, is on spring break, car is broke down, is new to town, needs a cab up to Clifton or out to Xavier, does not like to ride the bus for obvious reasons – it goes on and on. And because he’s clean cut, a fast talker, does not smell and probably because he is white, he gets a lot of money. Others sitting on the sidewalk, with a sign asking for help – as was the case yesterday with one person who I have sort of gotten to know, call her T – get upset and angry. And I think rightfully so.

Don’t get swindled by this guy. Tell him you know his game and don’t give him money. If you do want to give money – and I often do not, aside from buying a copy of Street Vibes, which is totally each person’s choice – give it to somebody obeying the law.

Author: Joe Wessels

Joe Wessels is a freelance journalist and photographer. Wessels covers local news events for Thomson Reuters news service and features for About.com's Cincinnati Guide site, plus is the executive director of hyperlocal news site, iRhine.com. He wrote for The Cincinnati Post, covering Cincinnati City Hall and Hamilton County government and wrote a weekly political column, which continued weekly at Cincinnati CityBeat. Previously, he was a reporter for the Cincinnati Business Courier and writes or has written for several publications in Cincinnati and around the country including The Cincinnati Enquirer, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine and the Sacramento News & Review. He is a native of Colerain Township, one of Cincinnati's western suburbs, and now lives in Over-the-Rhine near downtown Cincinnati. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a journalism writing certificate from the University of Cincinnati. He also graduated from Colerain High School, is an avid photographer, news junkie and was once a roller rink disc jockey, and sometimes rides a scooter around town.

11 thoughts on “Watch out for this guy”

  1. Wow, he looks familiar, but I can’t say he hit me up yet.

    There’s another guy that has hit me up dozens of times over the years: He is an older black man, usually in a dress shirt and sometimes a suit, and sometimes carrying a baby bottle and baby blanket saying his kids are in the car around the corner, and he needs gas money.

    Give to the guys who really need it, not the guys who have made a job of it.

  2. I was sitting on Fountain Square one day watching this guy work the crowds. When I walked past him hustling a girl and her mother he was saying
    “and I swear I’ll never talk to her again”
    so I’mm assuming he has a stock of stories to use depending on his audience. He started talking to my wife and I later and got a quick NO.

  3. Yeah, that guy tried to get me too. I was walking home down Walnut at about 9 pm across from the Aronoff and he came up to me and told me he had been abandoned at a Reds game by his friends and needed money for the bus. He was in a polo shirt and appeared to be very shaky. He followed me for about half a block before wandering away. I hear that the Aronoff is where he likes to solicit because it attracts a fairly well-to-do clientele.

  4. This guy is a drug addict. His family is fairly well off and he lives with his parents in Hyde Park. He was gone for a while, went through rehab. I have called the police on him several times. This is the only way we will get him to stop harrassing our neighbors and visitors. The phone number for district 1 police is 765-1212. Give them the description and let them take care of it.

  5. This man is a con-artist and is engaged in ILLEGAL panhandling. If you see him acting in such a way, whether directed at you or another Downtown Resident or guest, please contact the Cincinati Police Department, 765-1212 or the Downtown Ambassador hotline, 623-3429 IMMEDIATELY.
    He and his illegal activities are NOT welcome Downtown.

  6. Kevin — Here’s usually…everywhere downtown. Literally. Never any one place. I have a funny, bizarre twist on this whole story that I hope to blog about soon.

  7. I have personally been approached by this guy twice and at other times have watched him operate in the area surrounding Fountain Square. The times he approached me really took me by surprise because of his timing and the locale. The first time was on an empty Fountain Square at 7:00 on a Sunday evening and the 2nd time was during the week in the crowded lobby of the Westin right in front of Ingredients. After firmly shaking him off I noticed that he immediately approached other persons. I have also been sitting at Fountain Square and noticed him operating. He is stealth, and now that I have the proper numbers to contact, I will be notifying the police or ambassadors. The cell phone photo was most helpful.

  8. Thank you VERY much for posting the photo. After living downtown for over 1-1/2 years, I’ve learned to keep my eyes forward to avoid eye contact. If I see him, I’ll do what I have to do.

  9. Easiest way to avoid these people? Speak to them in a foreign language. They have no answer to that and they will leave you alone in a second.

  10. I work downtown and have been approached by the guy. I told him which bus he could take and he gave me the same cab routine. I laughed at him and told him to “man up, Nancy” Knew it was a con… sounds like he has improved his rap. Thanks dude!

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