It was scurrilous and vile like any other scam, only more so.
Two people were arrested last week in Aiken, S.C., for seeking donations on a street corner for a funeral that turned out to be pure figment.
“Help Me burry (sic) My Mom!! Please Donate!!” the pair’s sign said. The sign included pink ribbons, the symbol of breast cancer.
It reportedly netted the couple hundreds of dollars – placed in children’s Halloween pumpkin baskets.
Police charged Kendra Lachell Morris and Zachary Lacasey Sims with soliciting without a permit and obtaining goods by false pretense.
Where to start with these two?
Maybe with the fact that no one’s mother had died. There was no impending or recent funeral.
“During questioning,” The Augusta Chronicle’s news report read, “Morris, 21, and Sims, 20, both of Augusta, gave police different names and funeral homes for the deceased ‘mom’ during interviews.
“Investigators contacted the funeral homes and found no one there by those names. One suspect later admitted it was a scheme to help them pay their bills ...”
So, even after being picked up, the two made officers go on a wild goose chase, hunting down a dead mother that never was.
That’s not the worst of it.
If the charges are true, then these two preyed upon the good hearts and good intentions of good Samaritans.
Worse still, they cynically tried to tug even further at heartstrings by using the pink ribbons to piggyback on the national outpouring for this month’s breast cancer awareness.
How low can one go?
What makes even young adults concoct a rationale that it’s in any way acceptable to steal other people’s money with such fraud? And to try to steal the good name of breast cancer awareness. Is there not an ounce of shame?
But such schemes don’t just relieve innocent travelers of their money; they also force the rest of us to view other solicitations with a jaundiced eye. And that can only diminish the fund-raising capabilities of legitimate causes.
Donors beware. Do not give money to solicitors and panhandlers. In Aiken, the law requires solicitors to obtain a permit. Ask to see it.
Even those who work in the rescue business will tell you that giving money to panhandlers isn’t all that advisable to begin with. At best, you’re subsidizing a life on the streets, and keeping someone from moving on in his or her life or seeking help from the myriad of government and private programs out there. Refer them to those.
At worst, you’re investing in the very substances and vices that keep people trapped in a dead-end lifestyle.
Or perhaps worse than that, you’re being had.