What do you do when you see someone asking for money? Money is tight so do you give the guy at a stop light a couple of bucks? I'd like to think we all want to help as much as we can but there is also that feeling of being ripped off. Are they really in need or are they trying to fool you?

I encountered an individual last night in Niskayuna that was playing a violin for tips but was he really playing the instrument or was he part of a nationwide scam to get your money?

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As I was leaving Hannaford on Consaul Road in Niskayuna last night I saw a man and a woman standing in the parking lot next to a sign. The man was playing the violin with the hope to raise money to help his wife. The sign read: "I need help with my wife thyroid surgery. Please help me with what you can. God bless you."

The reason you should tip with caution is because there is a nationwide hoax where people pretend to play the violin for tips but they aren't actually playing. I am all for tipping a musician or helping someone in need but nobody likes to be duped.

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Last fall reports of this exact same ploy was reported around the country. Earlier this month "musicians" were spotted in Central New York looking for your money and now they are here in the Capital Region. So, is this legal in New York State? According to NYC.gov, street performers usually do not need a permit. However, a permit could be required for use a sound device such as a loud speaker.


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