Who are the “Fake Monk Mafia?”

Occasionally, it is good to take a moment to stop and ask a few questions. A question some people have been having matches the title of this blog post.

If you are like me, over the past couple of years, you’ve seen benevolent-looking men wearing saffron-colored robes striding purposefully around Boston’s busiest attractions. Their pitch is one that does not include words. They courteously hand a shiny piece of metal to an unsuspecting person, and somehow obtain money in return. I am not sure what is going on here, but my understanding of Buddhism is that it does not include shiny metal objects, or hitting up tourists and locals for cash.

Here are photos of a sign that appears in Boston’s Faneuil Hall marketplace.

The sign reads:

DO NOT GIVE MONEY TO THE FAKE MONK MAFIA

These are not real monks.  They have been harassing our visitors – please do not encourage them by giving them money.

If you are being harassed by one of these individuals please call Faneuil Hall Marketplace Security: 1-857-208-1585.

These “monks” are also heavily active in New York City’s Central Park. Below are some recent photos of a man dressed as a monk obtaining money from New York tourists.

These nice folks gave him $5.00. As they walked away feeling as though they had done something good for the universe, he secured the cash in a pouch on his waist, paused to make a notation in his ledger, then moved on to the next target.

Who are these people?  Are they committing the crime of larceny by false pretense – or are they merely enjoying their First Amendment rights of free speech? A lot of people would like to know if these are legitimate monks, or a gang of sneaky criminals swindling gullible people.

Another question (assuming these are not real monks) is: how long will they get away with it?

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