Mar 7, 2010

trusting someone just based on appearance

Bechadrei is reporting on a scam that happened in Yerushalayim on Purim and is looking for other people that might have fallen prey to this guy.

The report is of a guy dressed impeccably fine with an impressive shtreimel adorning his head. This avreich who sometimes needs to collect money to help himself get by bumps into this impressive looking fellow. After saying hello, he realizes this fellow in the shtreimel is from America and he thinks that perhaps he can ask him for a donation on Purim.

After explaining his financial situation to the American fellow, he asked if he would be able to help him with some tzedaka.

The fellow responded that he has $1600 for the purpose of tzedaka that he brought with him from America. The only thing is, he says, is that he finds himself in an uncomfortable situation. he just landed and finds himself with no cash. He needs to borrow some money - and the number kept rising during the conversation to a final total of $800 - and then will soon pay back the loan plus he will give him the full $1600 donation in addition to the loan repayment.

The avreich felt confident enough in this impressive looking fellow, with the enticement of the $1600 donation, that he agreed to lend him the money.

To be brief, he never heard from the guy again and could not locate him with the little contact information he had.

Lesson learned? Doubtful. Perhaps by this individual, but not by people in general in the Haredi community. The community is far too trusting of anybody who looks Haredi. This is how those poor kids in a Japanese jail were conned into carrying drugs into Japan, this is how the past few months we have heard of numerous cases of financial shenanigans in the haredi community of people calling themselves financial experts and consultants promising amazing returns on investment and swindling people out of their money, this is how people get duped into lending large somes of money to people whom they have no idea who they are.

Just because a guy is wearing a shtreimel you can trust him? Just because he has a black hat? You have no idea who he is, don't give him your money. A guy comes collecting tzedaka at your door, it works the same way - they all have a sob story. Don't trust him just because he has a black hat, and don't give him large sums of money because of it. Either give him a small donation, or if you feel bad and want to donate more, check out his story and make sure you know who he is and that his sob story is legitimate.

Just because he dresses a certain way does not make him trustworthy.


  1. Even if the guy would have been legit, it sounds uncomfortably close to ribit to me.

  2. You are missing the point. Maybe some guy who needs to collect money to get by SHOULD GET A JOB!!!

    And if he had $800 in cash to lend this character, why does he need to ask for a handout??

  3. do you know anybody who can live off $800? Maybe that is the amount he had raised over the course of the day, and along comes this great opportunity - if he lends this guy $800, he will get it back in a couple of days along with a $1600 donation!

  4. The people I know who have trouble getting by, go to work. They don't sit in the beit medrash and ask for handouts.

    If he was walking around with $800, it is unlikely that was his last dime (or shekel, as it were.)

  5. But isn't the point here that haredi looking is automatically better? In many people's eyes haredim do things "better" be it food, tzedaka, chinuch, therapy, etc.

    Don't people go after more haredi hechsherim, mohelim,shochtim, sofrim, etc? It is because we give more importance to the "looks" of things.

    I'm certain that the haredi guy will get more tzedaka at your door than the guy wearing a kipa sruga.

    We must come to the understanding that haredi is a form of custom and not a form of standard.

  6. we're jews too - it is only natural to be more trusting of someone who appears to be a part of the same community as you. there is no way around that. But if someone asks you to lend him $800 and you dont know who he is or anything about him, don't lend him the money no matter what he looks like unless you check him out first, get references, etc.

  7. Hey if he's collecting $800 a day then I'm quitting my day job and putting on a shtreimel too!

  8. Being foolish enough to financially trust someone unworthy is a mistake I'm sure each of us made as we were growing into adulthood. The difference is that (a) the mistake was likely at a non-critical time in our lives and of a magnitude that didn't break us and (b) we had more savvy adults around us to put it in context - how to check things out the next time, etc.

    Someone who lives a non-income life probably gets neither.


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