A group of women in New York City are being called "con artists" who use their children as tools to collect money from sympathetic citizens who believe that they are poor or homeless, allegedly swapping their children throughout the day as they beg.
At least nine women are said to be a part of a purported network of individuals who plead for money each day, reportedly rejecting government aid and traveling to the same Brooklyn apartment building each night, according to the Daily Mail.
The purportedly coordinated panhandling group was uncovered after WNBC-TV followed the women for a month, during which time they noticed that they were accompanied by toddlers and infants as they panhandled on sidewalks and inside subway stations.
"The women commute together, splitting up to beg for money," the report read, also noting that the group appears to have lunch together and to commute home on the same train. "They change their children’s diapers on the pavement and display signs claiming they’re jobless or hungry."
When WNBC-TV attempted to interview the women, though, the outlet was met with resistance, as they either walked away, got physical with reporters or delivered a "lewd gesture."
George McDonald, a former Republican New York City mayoral candidate and the founder of the Doe Fund, a group that helps the homeless, said that his organization has been monitoring these women and they they have repeatedly refused help.
"This is a scam -- a business. It’s a group of women who who trade off the same children. They work in shifts," he told WNBC-TV. "We have a network of service providers who would help them if they wanted help, which they do not."
While these women are legally permitted to panhandle on the streets, begging isn't allowed in the subway system — and there's apparently a state law in New York that bars them from panhandling with children, treating it as a misdemeanor.
But that apparently hasn't stopped them, as some wonder if the use of children for money collection borders on child labor.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio responded to the WNBC-TV investigation by noting that he was disturbed by it and by subsequently directing the NYPD to look further into the women and their alleged tactics:
As TheBlaze previously reported, a pregnant panhandler in San Diego, California, was also recently seen driving off in a Benz after begging for money.
(H/T: Daily Mail)