For years, Brooklyn commuters have opened their wallets for Robert McMahon, handing cash to this heroic and heartbreaking figure, a Vietnam vet in combat fatigues, his left arm missing and his right leg crippled, as he panhandles on Ocean Parkway in Kensington.
He plays to their patriotism, having scrawled his nickname, "Rambo," on the back of his camouflage jacket, along with his years of service with the Marines and two stints in 'Nam that saw heavy action. The top of his empty left sleeve is pinned to his uniform shoulder, and he drags his bum leg behind him.
At day's end, he counts his cash - with both fully functioning arms.
When drivers stop for red lights, McMahon, 53, hobbles over and salutes gallantly, juggling a paper cup and a cardboard sign that reads, "Vietnam vet." They give freely.
They are being scammed.
McMahon has two arms - and was seen using them last week to count the wads of cash he took off kindhearted New Yorkers.
He is not crippled, and it seems he never served in the Marines nor in Vietnam, according to Corps and Veterans Administration officials who could not find any record of him.
But he carries on with his wounded-soldier act, day after day, weaving through traffic and occasionally cursing out people who refuse to give. He's been at it since at least 1987, when he pretended to have a missing leg and pushed himself around in a rusty wheelchair.
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