South Florida

Sweetwater Police Cracking Down on Panhandling Scam

Police in Sweetwater are cracking down on a scam involving panhandlers who ask for money on behalf of people who they claim are in need.

Police bodycam footage from Sunday show three men wearing safety vests and holding small flyers asking for money.

"They have them in English and in Spanish, and it's asking for money to donate to them so that they are able to help a family member that’s suffering from a disease," said Sweetwater officer Johnathon Arche.

The flyer has a picture of a girl that says, "Give her the chance to live." It says the 8-year-old girl suffers from leukemia and for her to survive, she needs an urgent marrow transplant that costs $65,000.

"In most cases when asked what it is they're raising money for, most of the time they don't even know what the cause is," Arche said. "And that's very disturbing that they're collecting money for apparently family member they don't even know the name of."

Sweetwater police are warning drivers to not give panhandlers anything, not even spare change.

"In the event the driver does not have money on hand, what they're doing is they're giving them another card with banking routing information so that they're actually able to deposit money," Arche said.

The alleged scam has been going on for months -- not only in Sweetwater, but in other cities in South Florida as well. Police have already made two arrests in the panhandling scam.

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