Alarming News

November 24, 2009

And a scam closer to home

I’m no babe in the woods but I am actually stunned (not sarcastically stunned) to find out that the United Homeless Organization is a fraud!  Seen all over the city with their plastic water container collecting money, I have been previously guilted into giving with their “one penny, just takes one penny” pitch.

According to a complaint filed by Mr. Cuomo [pdf] on Tuesday morning, U.H.O. does not operate a single shelter, soup kitchen or food pantry. It does not provide food or clothing to the homeless. It does not even donate money to other charities that do.

Most of those coins and bills, Mr. Cuomo contended, end up in the pockets of those working the donation tables, who paid a daily fee to the group’s founder and president, Stephen Riley, and its director, Myra Walker, for the right to use the U.H.O. tables, jugs and aprons. The rest of the money is kept by Mr. Riley and Ms. Walker, and has been used for a variety of expenses not related to U.H.O. business, including expenses at fees, Toys ‘R’ Us, PC Richards, Bed, Bath & Beyond, as well as premium cable and electricity bills at their homes.

Fakers!  I can’t believe it.

Hat-tip Smitten’s Twitter.

Posted by Karol at 03:41 PM |

These guys never seemed legitimate to me; it always looked like a scam.

And that stinks. It’s very hard trying to figure out effective ways of helping homeless people, but giving them direct support on the street appears to generally be a bad idea. If you give them cash, it likely goes toward booze or drugs, and if you give them food, that just enables them to save the cash they’ve got for, again, booze and drugs.

Every now I then I used to give some guys cash, and all it ever did was bring them back looking for more cash the next day. I gave a man (a Veteran, of course — they’re all Veterans) $20 outside the Chrysler Building one day. The next day he approached me again. When I declined, he screamed “F*CK YOU!!” in my face. The same guy, one day later.

The next day, he approached me again and apologized. I accepted his apology but first clarified that he would not be getting any more money from me. The next day he wanted money again, and cursed me again when I declined. Etc.

He was always drunk, too.

Posted by: Kensington at November 24, 2009 at 4:01 pm

you also won’t get whatever magazine subscription you bought from the kid on Fifth Ave., you can’t redeem that haircut package after all and someone dumber that the believer of that crap is waiting to hand you $50.

Posted by: elana at November 24, 2009 at 4:04 pm

The New York Post exposed those guys maybe two years ago. I’ve always enjoyed telling those con artists that only tourists fall for the scam nowadays. Whoops, forgot about Karol.

Posted by: Mr. Yeesh at November 24, 2009 at 6:13 pm

Ha. Ha. I saw one of them, the woman who used to be on 72+bdwy, fairly recently. Surprised they didn’t shut down when Post exposed them.

It seemed official. They had a logo! And they were so out in the open one has to figure that if they weren’t official someone would have some questions.

Posted by: Karol at November 24, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Well, now there’s the question of why Cuomo is going after them now. It wasn’t just the Post. NY1 also did a piece on the scam some time ago. Maybe the UHO was giving their kickbacks to Paterson instead of the apparent Crown Prince, and this is payback.

Posted by: Mr. Yeesh at November 24, 2009 at 8:51 pm

I find Mr.Yeesh’ suggestion very plausible

Posted by: Tatyana at November 25, 2009 at 10:52 am

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Posted by: I can’t count either, but this is ridiculous at December 2, 2009 at 4:29 pm
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