HANDICAPPED-OR HANDY CON?

SCAMS You’re eating dinner when – rrrrinng, “Hello, I’m calling for the handicapped. Won’t you help keep the disabled employed by buying. ..” Light bulbs. Household cleaner. Trash bags. In sympathy, you fork over money for products you may not even need.

But according to a former top salesman for Texas Handicapped Workers Inc., and the Better Business Bureau, many of those callers are wringing sympathy and dollars from the public under false pretenses. Some employees may be legitimately handicapped, but many others are not. And Texas Handicapped Workers Inc. is a for-profit business, not a social service agency.

Workers applying at THW often “qualify” by checking off a list of handicaps that in addition to severe disabilities includes such common afflictions as hemorrhoids, lower back pain, high blood pressure, and allergic dermatitis. “Law offenders” can also qualify, as can those “handicapped” by alcoholism and drug addiction. In fact, says BILL EDWARDS, who worked for Texas Handicapped Workers Inc. for five years and sometimes grossed $1,000 a week in commissions, “ex-convicts, alcoholics, and drug addicts are the number-one disabilities.”

Edwards says that lying about handicaps is not uncommon. If a prospective client asked, Edwards told them he “was injured in a motorcycle accident.” He was-and suffered torn cartilage in his knee.

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