Pic Of The Day: A Scam?

Last night’s Pic of the Day — a photo of a violinist playing in the Stop & Shop parking lot, raising money to pay medical and other bills — tugged at heartstrings.

(Photo/Karen Solicito)

It may also have been a scam.

Several readers commented — publicly and privately — that “musicians” like these are not always what they seem. Their bow strings don’t always match up, and they may lack vibrato.

Jonathan Prager linked to a YouTube video, with an investigative report from a Texas TV station.

The Pic of the Day may have to go back to Compo sunsets.

You can’t fake those.

11 responses to “Pic Of The Day: A Scam?

  1. Susan Iseman

    The same guy (I think) was there last year with a woman…he was standing at the Post Road entrance.

  2. Gloria Gouveia

    Thanks to all of those commenters who exposed this tug-on-the-heartstrings- with-violin-strings scam. Hopefully now that it’s been exposed, the tenant or the property owner will chase them off. Or maybe a patrol car drive-by will discourage them.

    Gratitude from an inveterate bleeding heart.

  3. Kevin Ferrara

    I think there are a few different ways to look at this regardless of his musical talent. He is out in the cold, asking for help. Maybe a sign alone isn’t enough to get the attention required to receive that help. Desperate people do desperate things and there are worse things in life than being misled by a busker.

    • Yes, Kevin…he may feel he needs to pull medical heart strings, but he sure needs the money far more than them that are willing to give him some. For me, it’s easier on ME to give a fiver or so than to worry about why he has then than I.

  4. Jonathan Prager

    Having performed at Theatre/Comedy Festivals around the world, I know buskers. Buskers are honorable and courageous performers who endure hardships in service of their art.

    This is not a busker.

    This is an organized scam possibly designed by a larger network with malicious intent to get ordinary people to let go of their money based on supposed virtuosic mastery which has not been earned and does not exist; not to mention, by tugging at innocent and undefended ‘bleeding hearts’.

    These are Con Artists in a double sense.

    They make a mockery of true artists. And, they purposefully deceive.

    I admire anybody with a warm and generous desire to contribute and connect.

    At the same time, falling prey to a deceitful con artist practicing a purposefully worked out scam seems to me undesirable and to be avoided.

    With the amount of effort and intention this guy put into this “con”, he could just as easily, and much more honorably, have applied to work at the Stop and Shop whose lot he was defacing with his presence.

    PS = Here are the links, once again. The second features an attractive young black man. Eric Stanley, who as a professional violin player debunks the deception.


  5. Peter R Powell

    This does not surprise me. Many years ago, I received a barrage of calls about someone begging at Grand Union (a sign of how long ago it was) and why wasn’t I doing something about it? His sign said that he was homeless and needed money for a night. So, I drove to Grand Union and went up to him. I offered him shelter at the Gillespie Center and food in the Community Kitchen. He was polite at first but as our conversation continued, he grew upset and said to me: “What perversity is causing you to persist with this conversation?”

    Likewise, I would get calls about the people begging at the exit 17 North bound ramp. I spoke to them many times and was told where to go each time. We researched them and found that they lived in a rented house in Norwalk and begging at Exit 17 provided them rent and drug money. A Hoskins Place client noticed that they weren’t there all day every day so she decided to beg there too. She was beaten for her troubles. She infringed on their territory.

    Please give to Homes with Hope or similar agencies working to end homelessness and provide housing. Do not give to these people no matter how compelling their story is. Solutions to shelter and hunger exist in Westport and they are available to them.

  6. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    A little common sense would go a long way in a situation like this. I would bet there are multiple “Help Wanted” signs posted at retailers within spitting distance – including Stop & Shop. Perhaps someone could lay a trail of bread crumbs for this guy to follow.

  7. Jack Backiel

    If the stock markets keep falling, the violinist is going to have a lot of company!

  8. joshua stein

    I try to give random strangers on the street food, water, some times even toiletries, rarely money.

  9. Tracy Flood

    I loved being greeted by beautiful violin music at Stop and Shop twice this winter. I chose to give him money. If you don’t want to, then don’t

  10. Ray Wilhelm

    There used to be a guy stationed outside Broadway theaters with a violin, a dog and a sign claiming he was a student. He seemed to make out well. Partly because his playing was decent but mostly because his dog always looked embarrassed. I was later told he lived on Central Park West.