Home » Letters » How To Give Wisely To Those Truly In Need?

Question: Once, a well-dressed lady walked up to me on a shopping street and asked for money for dinner. I gave her $2 but she asked for $10 persistently. I then walked away. On another occasion, a man who saw me praying at a temple showed me a scarred leg that looked like a past injury, saying he needs money to see a doctor. I gave him $50 but he asked for $70, which I did not give. He then walked away. How should we handle these situations, if we want to help others but do not want to be fooled?

Answer: Unfortunately, you might have been conned in both cases. A giveaway of con wo/men is that they usually only want money. If the woman really wants food, you could have suggested taking her to eat vegan food immediately, with you personally paying, and you should see her turning away immediately, or giving some excuse on why she prefers cash.

Well, beggars are not supposed to be choosers. Cheats are also eager to beg and slow to thank, and usually have no promise of returning the kindness. If they offer a phone number for contact, it is good to call it immediately to check if it is a proper connection. Ask if they do not mind snapping a photo to remember their promise too.

To check authenticity for the second case, you could volunteer accompanying him to the doctor immediately. Again, cheats are likely to walk away. For proven easy targets like your case, cheats will ask for more easy money. To summarise, the way to check is to offer payment for what they want in person – immediately, with them not getting cash. Con wo/men will simply turn to the next target.

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