Watch CBS News

New Jersey Police Warn Of Statewide Phony Panhandler Scheme

UNION, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- They are nothing new in New York City, panhandlers standing in the middle of traffic asking for cash and - in some cases - even getting aggressive.

But now the cardboard signs and sad stories are moving to the suburbs.

FLASHBACK: Aggressive Panhandlers On Roadways Raising Safety Concerns

"This is a new thing for us," Detective Lt. Victor Correia of the Union Township Police Department said.

In the case of one woman in particular, police say her sob story doesn't add up.

"She was wearing a high end pocketbook had an expensive iPhone, dressed very well."

She caught the attention of Union Township police over the weekend when they noticed her walking in and out of traffic at the Route 78 West exit, asking for money.

Her sign reads, "I have one baby. Please in the name of God, help me to buy baby stuff and diapers."

Union Fake Panhandler
(credit: Union Township Police Department)

"She then admitted that's not her child in the picture."

Police say after questioning her further the woman admitted she's part of a larger group of panhandlers who are being dropped off at various locations in the New Jersey suburbs to collect cash.

After a successful day, they pick a place to meet up and go home with their earnings.

"They thrive on the fact that people are giving based on sad stories involving children," Correia told CBS2's Valerie Castro.

The woman was given a summons for panhandling and a ticket for impeding the flow of traffic. As for the larger panhandling ring, police say their investigation in to that will continue.

Authorities said the woman told them she lives at a home in Ridgewood, Queens. When CBS2 tried to speak to her, the people at that address said she no longer lives there. The phony panhandler is due in court in the next few weeks.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.