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Remember the 'help bury my son' panhandler? He's raising money again for a new funeral

Posted at 5:12 PM, Jan 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-03 21:03:49-05

Valley residents are reporting that a well-known panhandler seen in multiple cities is up to his old tricks again. 

In May 2016, ABC15 first reported seeing a man with a poster saying "help bury my son" asking for money in various cities over the past few years.

When ABC15 spoke to him a year ago near the funeral procession for fallen Phoenix police officer David Glasser, the alleged scammer said he didn't know an officer's funeral procession was underway and that he had $300 left to pay off on a $14,000 loan for his son's funeral. 

A month later, the man was seen again but refused to speak to ABC15.

Friends of "Terry" have reached out to ABC15 in the past, and said his son really did pass away, but that it happened back in 2014. ABC15 has not been able to independently confirm if their claim is accurate.

Police say there's nothing they can do to stop the panhandling because it isn't illegal, however, there is a law called "aggressive solicitation." 

This is meant for people whom don't take 'no' for an answer, a Phoenix police spokesman said. There are also other enumerated items within this offense such as within 15-feet of a bank or ATM, following someone, etc. Aggressive solicitation is a petty offense.

Viewers recently reached out to ABC15 to report that the same panhandler has a new scam.

According to viewers, the man was recently seen knocking on people's doors asking for money to bury his 3-year-old granddaughter, who he says was killed in a car accident involving a drunk driver.

The viewer said he was most recently seen in a neighborhood Tuesday around 8 p.m. near 35th and Dunlap avenues.

Eloisa Garcia says the panhandler knocked on her door.

"He sounded nervous," Garcia said. "He was talking very fast and was moving a lot. He said that his 3-year-old granddaughter was killed by a drunk driver. He pointed north and even gave me a name of a person who did it."

Garcia says she had an unsettling feeling after the incident. 

"Is he casing your place to see if he can take something? It does get a little scary," Garcia said.

Not only is he "playing on people's heartstrings," as Garcia put it, but he's taking money away from people who really do need financial help.

"There are people who can't afford to bury a loved one and do need the help," Garcia said. "You have this person out here who obviously isn't burying anybody — he's just panhandling."

A woman who requested to only be identified as Colleen says she helped create a Facebook group about the now-infamous panhandler. There are about 3,500 members in the group.

"I encountered him three years ago at I-10 and Grand," Colleen recounted. "I remember it was a hot day and if you see somebody standing out there trying to bury a son, of course, you want to help them. I gave him 10 bucks."

Colleen said she saw him a second time just a few months later and recalled thinking, "He should have buried his son already."

Although what the panhandler is doing isn't considered illegal, viewers can file a complaint with the Attorneys General's Office. Once the complaint is filed, the reporting person will receive a phone call back, an AG's Office spokesperson said. 

Colleen says she hopes authorities charge him with fraud. 

"I'm not saying everybody out there with a sign if fraudulent," Colleen said. "I'm saying there are people who are taking advantage of people's good hearts."