Alleged Scam Artist Spotted on Route 9; ‘Do Not Approach Him’
Authorities are warning residents to steer clear if they see (or hear) this person.
On Wednesday afternoon, music was blaring throughout the ShopRite parking lot on Route 9 in Poughkeepsie at the Shoppes at South Hills. A high-powered speaker was set up next to a parking space with a bearded man standing nearby appearing to play the violin to a backing track.
A sign was posted in front of the man asking for donations.
The sign read,
Please I need help. I have 4 kids. I need money for rent and bill(s).
The message was followed with the violin player's Cash App and Venmo information and "God Bless You."
While he didn't appear to be harassing anyone, the music coming out of the busker's speaker was exceptionally loud. His violin could still be easily heard from well within the ShopRite produce section.
In recent months, the Hudson Valley has been warned about scammers posing as violin players targeting local shoppers. Just before Thanksgiving, the Village of Chester Police Department posted about the alleged scam on their Facebook page. Police say that the person isn't actually playing the violin. They warn that the performers are pretending to play along with a pre-recorded backing track. The trickery is part of what they say has become a popular scam reported throughout the country.
After witnessing the violin "player" on Wednesday, it did appear that he was faking it.
A simple Google search of "violin scam" results in dozens of news stories from across the country about law enforcement agencies warning people to steer clear of the rip-off scheme. Authorities suggest that if you see the violin player do not approach him. If you're concerned about his presence you should alert the manager of a nearby business or call local police.
The last thing experts say you should do is to donate money and encourage the scammers to continue. There are plenty of social services available to anyone in the Hudson Valley who is in real need of assistance. While it may be tempting, activists say that giving money to panhandlers claiming to be down on their luck is almost always a bad idea. If you really want to help, they suggest that you donate funds to local homeless shelters or programs designed to directly assist individuals in need.