Calgary police warn of fake monks harassing people for money

They may look like Buddhist monks dressed in brown and orange robes, with shaved heads, but they’re not what they seem.

Real monks would never ask for money, says Buddhist spokesperson

Fake Buddhist monks have been offering bracelets and hounding people for donations in downtown Calgary. Many similar incidents have also happened in Ottawa and Toronto. (CBC)

They may look like Buddhist monks dressed in brown and orange robes with shaved heads, but they are not the peaceful sort people expect. 

Many in downtown Calgary say they have been approached by the imposters, and asked for money after being given a bracelet. If the monk impersonators don't get a donation, they get hostile.

Calgary police and a spokesperson for the Calgary Buddhist community are warning people that real monks don't ask for money on the street.

It's a growing scam that's already happened in TorontoOttawa and other cities across North America and appears to be moving west.

Reverend Heng Syun, a member of a local Buddhist monastery, says real monks would never ask for money, but they might seek food, and only in the morning and without speaking.

That was not the case for Cassie Little when she was approached recently by a man pretending to be a monk. He put a bracelet on her wrist, then got hostile when she wouldn't pay him.

"He finds out I didn't have the money to donate, he just rips it right off," she said. "They are supposed to be the most peaceful, loving, caring people on the planet." 

Police here say there have been no complaints of assaults, and that's where they would step in.