Tuesday 27 September 2016

Scam: Pensioner hands over her last €40 to man who claimed not to be able to feed his baby

Cormac Fitzgerald

Published 10/08/2015 | 15:41

When she later tried to contact the man she was unable to get through to him.
When she later tried to contact the man she was unable to get through to him.

A woman has spoken of being scammed into giving away the last €40 of her pension to a man who claimed to not be able to feed his baby.

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Rosaleen Archibald, from Fairview, in Dublin, told RTE’s Liveline that she was returning home from shopping last Friday when she was stopped by a man in the street.

The man claimed to have visited six churches that day looking for help from the parish priests. He also claimed to have contacted the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) but said that they weren’t able to help him.

He also claimed that he couldn’t afford food and he had to bottle-feed his two-month old baby with sugar and water.

“He said he was made redundant and [his] dole was to be ready today and it wasn’t ready,” Ms Archibald told Liveline.

She promised to contact local TD Finian McGrath on behalf of the man, and took down his number.

She then gave the man the last €40 of her weekly pension, telling him to get food for his baby.

However, when she later tried to contact the man she was unable to get through to him.

“Lo and behold I tried to ring him and the number was invalid… So I dropped up on Sunday morning to the address they gave me and no, they’d never heard of him,” she said.

Ms Archibald said that she had given the man the last €40 of her €223 pension. She said that she still didn't regret her donation, despite the fact that he wasn’t genuine.

“Obviously the man was desperate in some way… and I really don’t care because I wouldn’t have been able to sleep thinking about a two-month-old baby [that] was drinking water and sugar,” she said.

Other callers into Liveline described similar events where a man approached them with a story about being broke and trying to get in contact with the Society of St Vincent de Paul.

One woman, Maria Conway from Malahide, said that a man approached her in Malahide and said that his children were hungry and he couldn’t afford to feed them.

“It was a heartbreaking story and he was so plausible so I found myself in the position where i offered him €50,” said Ms Conway.

However, after a call was made to SVP, Ms Conway found out that the man’s story wasn’t genuine and she chased him to Malahide Dart Station where she confronted him on the platform, demanding her money back.

"I was suddenly thinking, 'oh my goodness, if he pushes me I'm going to land down on the railway track,'" she said.

"There were people nearby but nobody was listening to us but I think to stop a fuss he put his hand in his pockets, took out notes, and he peeled off €50 and gave me my money back - and then I ran," she said.

Yet another caller, Mary Shannon, said that she had been approached by a man on the Grace Park Road in Fairview a number of months ago. He said that he had walked from Dublin Port and had his dead mother's ashes in a suitcase, but had no money.

Ms Conway described the man as in his forties, with a bald head and an eye that didn't match the other. It is unclear if it was the same man each occasion, but in all the cases the man was said to be well-dressed and mentioned looking for help from the SVP.

One caller described him as 'theatrical looking'.

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