Monday, January 17, 2005

Sun sticks it to Sticker Lady!

Chalk up another scoop for the Toronto Sun! Repeating their success in exposing the fraudulent panhandler known as the Shaky Lady three years ago, they've now busted the story of the Sticker Lady wide open. Whether or not you think this is investigative journalism worthy of the front page, you'll probably agree that this public outing has ruined one woman's racket. Like the Shaky Lady, who's taken her act on the road and was recently seen in Montréal, the Sticker Lady is probably done in this town.

(I feel dirty. Not only did I link to the Sun in that paragraph, but I also linked to the Free Republic.)

If you've ever walked on the streets near the Eaton Centre, chances are you've run into Catherine Hebert. She's very friendly and very sweet, and her modus operandi is to flatter your good looks as she gives you a tiny sticker and then hits you up for a charitable donation. Only according to the Sun, that money isn't going to charity at all, but into her own pockets and then back down the QEW to her $330,000 home in Hamilton. Why believe the Sun over the Sticker Lady? Well, for starters, she says in their exposé that she's never deceived anyone into believing that she represents a charity, but in my personal experience, she does just that. She hit me up for five bucks when I first moved to Toronto about five years ago, telling me it was for a children's charity. She likes to get you for at least a fiver "for the kids," and she seemed disappointed when I gave her only a buck last fall when I was on my way to Massey Hall to catch Brian Wilson. This is why I think the Sun is at least being a little less mean this time than they were with the Shaky Lady, who only pretended to be unwell whereas the Sticker Lady fraudulently claims to represent a charity.

Of course, I'm not surprised to learn that she's not on the level. It'd be naïve to expect that anyone asking you for money on the street was being completely on the level. (Or as Jay puts it, the Sun might as well run headlines saying, "EXTRA! EXTRA! NOT EVERYONE ON PLANET HONEST! MANY STRANGERS GIVE FRAUDULENT CLAIMS!" or even "EXCLUSIVE TORONTO SUN STORY! PEOPLE LIE! YOUR PET NEVER WENT TO LIVE ON FARM WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG!") What I do find surprising is that she's 51 years old. For someone who spends so much time on the street -- even if she does sleep in a nice home -- she looks pretty good for a woman in her fifties.

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