Banner photo from the post The Fishy Paypacket.

03

February

0

The Piccadilly Croatian Crack Whore iPod Cry Rape Rip-Off

by Alan McCann

Soho is the creative beggary capital of Western Europe (as well as creative buggery, mind). Where other places just have pickpockets, muggers and teams of organised well-salaried gypsy begchildren, those in Soho wanting something for nothing spend months of planning in elaborate, increasingly believable scams to beg Soho’s poor buggering buggers out of their hard-earned cash.

I’ve already written of the Chuggers, the sledgehammer of legitimised charity collection, in a previous post; at least they’re legal if immoral. But we also have the Kids Charity dresser-uppers. Now, some of these are genuine as they roam the streets humiliating themselves to raise money for their collection boxes, like this fellow, modelling here beside the uncanny likeness of my friend Nelson:

On the left, my friend and colleague Nelson, and on the right, a genuine kids charity dresser-upper.

On the left, my friend and colleague Nelson, and on the right, a genuine kids charity dresser-upper.

But around the pubs of Soho, especially on the summer evenings, you have many a random coming around with collection tins, usually chirpy middle-aged women, collecting for needy hospitalised children. Problem is they are often nothing more than thieving scamcunts capitalising on people’s empathy for sick children. I’ve even memorised charity numbers and other details only to look them up and realise they don’t exist.

Then you have your Big Issue vendors who only ever have one copy, or better still, have one copy and have a dog carrying it around for them. Novel.

The aggressive ones who begin with “Come on guys, we all know people in Soho make a lot of money, so you can surely spare some change. I’m tee-total you know and I don’t do drugs.” Whoever taught them that the opening line of “You must have loads of money, so give me some” would work at all.

Currently making reappearances round my workplace is a guy I first encountered a good couple of years ago. He comes up to you with his arm covered in blood saying he’s been in an accident on his bike and needs taxi money to get to hospital. The wound is incredibly convincing and it’s a lot of effort to go to. I offered to call him an ambulance, then hail him a cab and only began to be suspicious when he seemed to only want the money. He tried this on with a colleague of mine twice in as many months recently; first time the scammer got £5. Second time he got told to fuck right off.

I made a documentary at University about the Big Issue In Scotland, so I know just what an impact scamcunts can have on people who are genuinely in need and who struggle to get punters to believe that need because of the dozens of chancers who’ve come before them.

So … I was on my way home one Thursday night, and found myself in Piccadilly Circus, a curious melting pot of human life if ever there was one. Being there usually means I’ve missed the last Tube home and am passing through to go for the nightbus to Tooting – a nightbus which also takes you round all the best London landmarks, it’s awesome.

At night it really is a circus.

At night it really is a circus.

I got stopped by this guy who needed some money for a ticket to get to his family in Manchester. That’s a new one. He said if I helped him he knew a guy who ran a shop nearby who had a stack of nicked new iPods and this guy had promised him one and if I gave him the £30 he would go get it for me.

Oh my days, that just sounded too good to be true. What a kind offer.

Of course I didn’t believe him for a second but he was from Croatia and we got talking about that part of the world, a sort of specialist subject of mine, and he noticed the Bosnian badge which I’d started wearing on my jeans since the night of the great Bosnian Hoax. I felt sorry for him even though I knew he was scamming/lying but we had had a good chat and I wanted food so we had paninis together at this eat-in place nearby and chatted.

Every so often he would talk about the iPod and get annoyed when I said I couldn’t afford to give him £30 and that I didn’t believe the iPod story. He wanted the money up front of course and would go and get it from his “friend” who “didn’t trust other people”. Sure. Plausible. I certainly wouldn’t trust someone I didn’t even know. Oh wait, that was the situation I was in right now…

Otherwise he seemed OK and I love chatting with people from that part of the world so I was happy to buy him the food as long as he laid off with the iPod gobshite.

When I said I was going home he became more persistent about the iPod and I became a bit worried so I stuck to very public places as I tried to get rid of him and find a taxi. He eventually went away and I went to buy cigarettes and some water and things were fine. Then I realised that I needed cash for the taxi so I went to this bureau de change nearby – really well lit and the cash machines were inside.

I needed £100 to give to my flatmates and I’d kept forgetting to withdraw it for them and I needed a cab so I decided to take out £150.

As I was at the cash machine, this pale skinny crater-faced young woman came in and was crying and telling me some story about her boyfriend being horrible to her and slapping her around. So I was distracted by that. When the money came out of the machine she grabbed it! I grabbed it too but I also had my wallet in my hand as I had just put my card back – so she was clinging to that too. I said to her over and over to let go and I positioned myself so I was between her and the exit of the place. She struggled with it for a little while but eventually she tore the money from my hands leaving me with my wallet (and literally a few half £20 notes!). Literally, a rip-off!

She ran off and when I ran after her she had run straight up to some massive dodgy-looking guys on the street and shouted to them that I was her boyfriend and I had been trying to hit her; they grabbed me and started abusing me and pushing me around and threw me into the wall and onto the ground and shouted at me about how I shouldn’t hit girls. There was nothing I could do but just keep quiet until it was safe to say “She just robbed me, and cried rape to all of you so you would attack me, and let her get away – which she now has. So thank you for your cooperation.”

The girl was nowhere to be seen, and the overly-keen-to-help-a-damsel guys buggered off too. A few taxi drivers came up to me who had been hanging around near the cashpoint and checked I was OK. A street cleaner was walking past too and stopped to listen to what had happened. They said they’ve seen the same thing a million times and it’s quite common, and the girl gets away with it because she cries rape or something and guys rush to help her.

They said the guys were maybe even part of the scam.

One of the taxi drivers was very nice about it, something about him I trusted and he didn’t seem dodgy at all, he offered to take me home for half what the normal price would be. I went with him and all the way home he was giving me advice about Soho and telling me stories, he was a really nice guy and he honoured his deal about the price.

But I had also told him about the Croatian guy, and described him. He said he saw him across the road when I was at the cashpoint. He thinks the whole thing was a set up and he had tipped off his friends to get me.

A learning experience I guess and could have been a lot worse, I was down £150 but was only minorly bruised.

Still, could have bought an iPod with that money…

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