Tears streaming down her face, an Amtrak schedule firmly in hand, she approaches people on downtown corners or outside shopping centers.
In between sobs she tells passersby variations of her story as she pleads for money for a train ticket home.
Don’t be fooled, however, because it appears to be a scam according to area residents and Davis police.
Known as the “Crying Girl,” the reported con-artist is a panhandler, appearing to be in her late teens. She has become so notorious locally that she has earned her own page on DavisWiki.
Her story varies. Sometimes it is a mother who has left her stranded in Davis. Other times it is a fight with a boyfriend, which has produced the same result.
Either way, she claims to need about $40 for an Amtrak ticket home.
An Aggie reporter interacted with the so-called “Crying Girl,” (whose real name is reportedly Amber) approximately two weeks ago on Second Street near the Amtrak station.
She refused an offer to have her train ticket bought directly with a credit card. She said she was still waiting for another person and simply needed cash to get to her desired amount.
When pressed for an identification of the person she was waiting for, the “Crying Girl” simply walked away.
Others have not been so fortunate.
Dozens of people have left posts on the DavisWiki page, sharing their tales, some even claiming to be threatened or cursed at when they turned her down.
Chris Dietrich, a senior political science major, said he met her a few weeks ago at the parking lot near Steve’s Pizza.
“I was a little suspicious, but I felt sorry for her and she seemed to be in need,” Dietrich said in an e-mail interview.
Dietrich said that both he and his fiancé gave her money and that he felt disappointed and angry when he found out it may be a scam.
Alex Kistner, a fifth-year senior majoring in environmental toxicology, said he met the “Crying Girl” on a Tuesday at the beginning of last winter quarter outside of The Marketplace Panda Express.
Kistner said in an e-mail interview that he was surprised at how prolific she is, based on his friends’ own encounters with her.
“I figured that she’d have moved on or got a new scam by now,” he said.
Kistner said the he did not feel comfortable about the situation and did not give her money.
Meanwhile it may be important for people who encounter the “Crying Girl” to be careful in turning her down.
According to the DavisWiki page, she has backup waiting near her in a car.
The driver is reportedly male and the vehicle is a black Chevy Suburban or Tahoe with a license plate number of 4GDY921.
CHINTAN DESAI can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.