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Oklahoma City nonprofit helps travelers, not scammers

A couple tried to scam Oklahoman columnist Carrie Coppernoll in a store parking lot. How can we be compassionate to those who need help while stopping those who take advantage of kindness? By asking the experts.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Published: January 5, 2011

His eyes drooped and his shoulders sagged.

Christmas was coming, and he and his wife were stranded. They had no money. They had no gas. And their home in Tulsa was 90 miles away.

He asked our family if we could help them get home in time for the holiday. They just needed three gallons of gas — less than $10.

I told him we didn't have any extra money, but he should call Upward Transitions, a nonprofit with a program that helps stranded travelers.

We walked into the store, and I felt a little guilty, knowing I had $10 to spare.

Then my husband saw him: the man who minutes ago begged for mercy in the cold.

He was asking his wife what kind of computer cord she needed.

He bounded off to the electronics section. She stood in the returns line with an armful of items to return, talking loudly about how they were having trouble with their home computer.

I gave her the evil eye.

Then I announced loudly that I wouldn't say anything about how horrible it was to try to scam people, especially during the holidays.

I continued giving the evil eye — even eviler than before.

I'm pretty sure my husband shuffled away from me so people wouldn't think we were together.

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