The nuisance conman who pounds the streets of Kensington & Chelsea
When an old man approaches you in the street complaining he’s lost his wallet or can’t afford a bed for the night, no decent person would disbelieve him or begrudge him a few pennies.
On the streets of Knightsbridge, Kensington and Chelsea, however, in the last year I’ve regularly encountered an old man who is plainly seizing on such pity and abusing it. This chap makes the grifters of the BBC’s Hustle seem like amateurs and he’s probably raking in upwards of £300 a day.
The individual I mention is probably about 65 years old and his favourite haunts seem to be Walton Street, Beauchamp Place, Sloane Street, Cadogan Place and Draycott Avenue. He is certainly a beggar who opts to limit himself to the finest streets and it is certainly apparent why he does such.
The first time I encountered him I was with a friend. The man concerned approached us with a story of how he’d been pick-pocketed and requested £50 for a train ticket to somewhere up north. My friend opened her wallet and handed him the cash and he went on his merry way leaving her thinking she’d done a good deed.
The next time I was stopped, the same man told me a tale of how he couldn’t afford a bed for the night. “Could you give me £50?” he enquired. I pointed out that we’d met before and he flat denied it. In astonishment, I mumbled some excuse about not having any cash and turned to leave but then his vitriol began to flow: “F**k you, you f**king piece of Eurotrash,” he screamed. I got away as quickly as I could.
Days later I was in Beauchamp Place and he managed to block my path. Plainly, for all of his audacity, he doesn’t or cannot remember who he spins his yarns to and this time my friends and I were given a story about his wife having suddenly died and his being unable to afford a train ticket to Gloucester. “Give me £50, will you,” he politely requested. Yet again, I explained that we’d met before. Yet again, he denied such and realising he wasn’t getting a cent, the swearing commenced.
All other encounters have been similarly peppered with tales of woe and always end with a request for £50. His success is obvious as the man wouldn’t continue haunting our streets if his strategy didn’t result in people paying up. Many locals have also told me of their conversations with this man and some tell me that they too parted with their cash. Finally, though, I managed to get a snap of the con artist the other day and I publish it here as a warning to my readers.
Don’t get me wrong: I entirely support helping those in need and there are indeed several poor old people who I assist locally when I run into them but confidence tricksters such as this really should be stopped from conning tourists and locals.
If you spot this man, report him to the Metropolitan Police’s Chelsea police station at 2 Lucan Place, London, SW3 3PB on 0300 123 1212 or go to: http://content.met.police.uk/Borough/Kensington
Watch clips of the BBC’s Hustle at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007gf9k