Fake Funeral Panhandler Scammers Caught in Tulsa

KTUL-Tulsa - December 1, 2023 6:10 am

A group of panhandlers caught by police allegedly committed fraudulent activity in Tulsa.

According to the Tulsa Police Department, five individuals were cited for soliciting without a vest after holding up fake funeral signs of an 8-year-old boy and collecting hundreds of dollars from Tulsans.

NewsChannel 8 spoke with the TPD about how they learned what the group was doing.

TPD says this area has been an area of concern when it comes to panhandling.

After a pedestrian check on this group, they found they were breaking a city code and found out even more minutes later.

“They’re holding signs up. The signs are saying they basically need money to raise for a funeral for a child that had died in their family. I guess in a car wreck. They’re unable to prove that that’s even a fact,” said Danny Bean, TPD public information officer.

Bean says after they couldn’t prove that they immediately knew that it was a scam.

An immediate red flag for TPD was that these panhandlers’ were not wearing reflective vests. TPD says panhandlers are legal in Tulsa, but you must wear a reflective vest and that you must be out of the roadway.

Police say five panhandlers were caught on the corner of 21st and Garnett in Tulsa, allegedly scamming drivers out of their hard-earned money on Thanksgiving morning.

“We’ve found that they had collected, I don’t know how long they were doing it for before we were up there talking to them, but they collected around 250-300 dollars already,” said Officer Bean.

The Tulsa police department also says that they were able to prove that these panhandlers are travelers as well. From Romania to Connecticut, and now Tulsa.

They also said they have seen this tactic more often as the holidays continue.

But how do you know the difference between a good panhandler and a scamming one?

“You can’t blame people for helping people. Whether they’re getting scammed or not, they don’t know it. You can’t blame someone for doing that, said Officer Bean. What we would suggest and what I would suggest is just don’t give them money. A lot of these people are regular people. You would be surprised. Everyday jobs. Just like the rest of us and go out and try and get some extra money by the hearts of other people.”

This investigation is still ongoing and the money that was made by those panhandlers has been collected as evidence in this case.


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