Outrage Over Using Homeless to Buy iPhones

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 21 2013 2:57 PM

Outrage Grows Over Using Homeless to Buy iPhones

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People wait in line outside the Apple Store at the Americana at Brand shopping complex in Glendale, California

Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Homeless advocates were quick to condemn news that at least one businessman, who appeared to be working as part of a larger operation, recruited homeless people Friday to stand in line and get new iPhones in Pasadena. Adding insult to injury, the man seems to have recruited the homeless by offering a quick $40, which most never actually received after they stood in line overnight.

The Los Angeles Times talks to several people who say the scheme was launched Thursday afternoon in LA’s infamous Skid Row, when groups of men drove around yelling, “Who wants to make some money?” Dozens of homeless gathered, were loaded into cars and vans and taken to the Apple store in Pasadena. But after standing in line all night “the plan seemed to fall apart” when the doors opened, reports the LAT. The homeless had the vouchers to buy the phones but not the cash. Chaos ensued and police had to escort the businessman out of the building for his own safety. At least six phone were bought before store employees realized what was going on and stopped selling the phones, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. Hours later, some of the homeless were still outside the Pasadena store, allegedly without money to return to downtown Los Angeles.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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