Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Money for a great story is easy in the city of Toronto. (Apparently)

Style is the gossamer on which the seeds of the truth float through the world.
                   George Bancroft

It is true that a chunk of my life is now spent in the city. This does give me the opportunity to meet interesting people, and to observe and interact with those people. This has gifted me some great stories over time.

To be a country girl in the city has made me a bit guarded over the years. I have been warned by friends and family, over and over to be careful. I apparently can be a bit naïve, at least in their eyes. They do not understand that I have always trusted my instincts and would never intentionally put myself in harm’s way. This has always kept me safe and my money in my pocket.

I was sitting in Union Station in Toronto minding my own business when a man approached me. Immediately my guard went up. He was very well spoken and had a thick French accent. I listened. He told a story that had my doubt that it was true but also had receipts to back up that story. Official Via Rail receipts. It showed the amount due for weight overage on luggage. It looked legit to me, and this man did seem truly distraught.

A long time ago I bought one of those really expensive vacuum cleaners and took it back the next day after I had vacuumed my whole house. Yes, I am not easily scammed. I handed this smooth talker with the French accent a five dollar bill. It was my last five dollars.

                   HOOK LINE AND SINKER.

As soon as I handed it over my gut told me I had been scammed. I watched that man with my five dollars head upstairs into the Great Hall exactly where he would have to pay that Via bill. I followed him from a safe distance. You know ducking behind pillars and such. I had to know if I was right.

Well, instead of walking over to the Via ticket booth he walked over to a young family with luggage. This was where I guess I lost my marbles for a minute. I walked up to him and asked for my five dollars back. I told the family not to give him any money. He did not give me my money back and he casually walked out the front door into the street. The family (other marks) thanked me. My heart was racing but I knew I had done the right thing. I was safe among all the people who surrounded me. When I think about it now, it was not the smartest move.

I walked right over and told the lady behind the Via counter my story. I wished I had taken a photo but I am sure that would not have been a smart move at all. I gave them a description of the scammer and told them about the official receipt. They would watch for him and spread the word.

I walked back downstairs to wait for my train. A construction worker stringing electrical wire in the ongoing upgrading of Union Station was still on a ladder. He had watched me interact with this man.

“How much did he get you for?”

“Five dollars”.

“Toronto the city of scammers”, was his reply.

I laughed and said, “It was a good story.”  He smiled.

"They always are".

So, I have finally figured out how to get paid for a great story. You just have to be a very convincing storyteller. He certainly was. There are apparently a lot of very good storytellers in Toronto making great money. Obviously, I am at the wrong end of the storyteller business.



  1. Oh my . . .
    Brave, Wise, Good Woman . . .
    Skammers are such sneaks . . .

  2. You are a regular Nancy Drew as far as detective work is concerned.
    Our heart goes out to those in need but our instinct is usually right. Those scammers are everywhere. Good for you for finding him out and warned the staff at the station.
    Hugs, Julia

  3. Quite the adventure and 'lesson learned'.

  4. when i visit new york city, oy-vey, the streets are lined with good stories!! i enjoyed the pictures of the city!!

  5. I have been caught too. And have decided (self-justification) that I will still help from time to time. I susepct (and I may be naive) that there are more people who do need help than scammers.

  6. Aren't we all on the wrong end of being savvy storytellers?!! lol!

  7. Long ago I never gave anyone more than $2. Now I tell them all that I don't carry money anymore.

  8. The cheek of that man - $5.00 indeed. At least it wasn't a large sum of money.
    Hugs M xox

  9. Now that's a good story! I'm always nervous when I see people like this even in quiet downtown Fredericton but more so in any large city, although the only one we frequent is Calgary and never in an area where those types might be. I'm sure the family he approached was relieved by your boldness. We need to be aware of our surroundings at all times, even in our little city.

  10. Oh my gosh, that's horrible. That makes my blood boil. There was a "trendy" kind of money scam going on a while back. Usually young men, would approach women alone and say their car was broken down and they needed to raise about $100 for a tow. They'd be sitting by the car saying it wouldn't start. I heard about this one so many times, people felt sorry for them. I think that these types of nasty people are the worst because they play on your sympathies and you feel so duped after. Sorry you lost your $5, I would have got a cop after him.

  11. Oh Grace; naive, brave and risk taker; all rolled into one story. I once had an elderly lady at Union Station ask me to watch over her luggage while she bought something to eat. She is the polar opposite of your scammer and would make an great mark for him. Glad you were safe.

  12. There was a guy we met in Spain who said his car had been towed. He had very posh English and we were almost taken in but Dad ended up telling him to stuff it. A quick google revealed that a lot of people had been taken in by him.

  13. Glad you were able to cut his "business venture" short!

  14. I gave $20 to a man in a parking lot a few years ago. He looked so desperate. Later, when I went back to give him more, I discovered he was a panhandler spinning lies for sympathy. I decided at that time, that if I give someone money out of compassion and it turns out to be a mistake, I have gained more than I have lost because compassion is priceless. The scammers, on the other hand, may have gained a few dollars, but they are bleeding their souls. Nothing is worth a seared conscience.


The mind grows by what it feeds on. J.G. Holland

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