Bogus Beggar - Disabled at day, able-bodied at nights, man cons motorists out of money
Scores of Jamaicans are being duped by an able-bodied man who pretends to be disabled as he begs motorists in the Half-Way Tree area of St Andrew daily.
The man, who identified himself as 26-year-old Ricardo Allen, has been begging in the vicinity of South Avenue and Waterloo Road for years, feigning a disability to convince motorists and passers-by to give him their money.
During most afternoons, Allen can be seen contorting his hands and feet at the busy roadway during peak hour traffic as he aggressively begs.
But once the traffic eases, he is usually seen walking away normally without any of the contortions.
"A video was shot near the Canadian High Commission, where persons said I was walking straight, but that is not true," Allen told The Sunday Gleaner.
"From I had the accident, my hands and feet have been like this," added Allen as he sought to convince members of our news team that he was disabled.
But whatever the issues, they did not appear to affect him as he walked to a premises, where he counted out a wad of cash before visiting a nearby bar, where he purchased a cigarette and a bottled drink after spending hours claiming that he was disabled.
The bartender explained to The Sunday Gleaner that Allen has been carrying on his con for some time.
"He spends over here, buys his one cigarette and something to drink and goes about his business. He said it is his style to do what he is doing - his little hustling - and he tries his best to be respectful," said the bartender.
But according to Allen, he has been fending for himself on the streets from he was nine years old after being hit by a car and left disabled.
"My mother had sent me to a boys' home when I was around seven-year-old and I ran away, as there were a lot of gays there, and that's how I ended up on the streets at nine," said Allen.
"I met in a car accident and I had no family to take care of me, to buy food, clothes and personal items, so I had to come out to the stop light and beg to buy those stuff," he added as he ambled up to several motorist with anguish visible on his face, many responding by giving him paper notes and coins.
On the day he spoke with our news team, Allen said he was trying to raise $1,000 to buy some food and a pair of shorts in order to shower and change.
"I have not had anything proper to eat since yesterday," claimed Allen.
"I saw a friend this morning, who had just bought a small food, and he tore the cover off of the box and gave me some, and that's all I've had to eat since morning.
"I walk around and beg help several times and I don't get any. The little work that I can manage is like gardening."
Allen said that while some motorists have assisted him, others have been critical, saying "nothing is wrong with me, so I should go and find a job". "Some people throw dirty water, some get out of their cars and take off their belts as if they want to hit me," Allen shared.
...Police powerless against bogus beggars
The police have pointed to what they call 'legislative gaps' for their inability to take action against persons who pretend to be disabled as they beg on the streets of Jamaica.
With allegations of several persons pretending to be disabled or using ruses as they beg, our news team tracked one man who operates in the vicinity of South Avenue and Waterloo Road in St Andrew, begging while pretending to be suffering from some serious disability.
The man, who gave his name as Ricardo Allen, contorts his hands and feet during peak hour traffic as he ambles up to motorists. But on leaving the location hours later, Allen can be seen walking normally and using his hands just fine.
"We have seen it (persons pretending to be disabled to get money) on the road, but we are aware of legislative challenges," Deputy Commissioner of Police Clifford Blake, told The Sunday Gleaner.
"Even with the windshield wipers, there are some legislative gaps there in terms of what we can charge them for, and we are aware of the public nuisance caused by these persons," added Blake.
Legal sources agreed with Blake that changes would have to be made to the legislation for Allen's con to become a criminal offence.
According to the sources, the actions of these bogus beggars can be deemed an offence of moral turpitude, but it does not have all the characteristics to fall within the three most likely categories of criminal offences - attempting to pervert the course of justice, creating public mischief and obtaining money by means of false pretence.