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How panhandlers use free credit cards

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 31, 2010

A reporter for the Toronto Star handed out prepaid credit cards to panhandlers and waited to see what happened.

“Can I trust you with this?” I said, handing him a $50 card and telling him to buy what he needs, but that I need it back when he was done. He nodded and scrambled to his feet. He said he would be back in a half-hour.

He came back right on time, slurping from a large McDonald’s soft drink cup — root beer — and with sweat on his brow. He wanted to have pork and rice from a Vietnamese noodle joint on Spadina but they wouldn’t take the card. So, he scrambled to McDonald’s. Lunch was a double quarter-pounder with cheese.

The reporter’s offer was frequently declined, which seems surprising at first. But panhandlers are savvy businesspeople. They didn’t want a short-term and potentially risky venture interfering with their main panhandling income stream. Eyes on the prize. (via the browser)

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