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Local Buddhists Say Fake Monks Misrepresent Community

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some in the Buddhist community are alleging fake monks in Center City are overly aggressive, panhandling and giving real monks a bad name.

CBS 3 saw a man dressed in an orange robe moving up and down city streets offering people bracelets and gold colored medallions.  Then he would ask for money, taking the trinkets back if people could not pay.

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Chief Monk Muni Ratana with the Preah Buddha Rangsey Temple of Philadelphia and New Jersey has seen the monks.

He said these alleged fake monks give real monks a bad name.

"Monks practice love and kindness and teach people to live a good life, not to take something from people or sell something," Ratana said.

Ratana said any real monk has given up everything in the name of making the world a better place, and should never beg for money or sell something.

CBS 3 confronted the man in robes along Chestnut Street.  He repeatedly hid his face from the camera.

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Later CBS 3 found another alleged monk taking a smoke break on Walnut Street. Ratana said most American Buddhists frown on smoking.

After a few minutes, he tried to give out medallions.

He also refused to answer questions.

Alleged fake monks have been seen in other cities, including New York and Seattle.

Philadelphia police said they know about the situation but cannot do much as far as enforcement under the law.

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