The Story Of Hot Beef

You’ve probably heard the adage that rules were made to be broken, right? That seems to be true everywhere, and my little community in Pinellas Park isn’t immune to that axiom.

I got a knock on my door Friday morning from someone I didn’t recognize in an unmarked truck. It was a serious breach of etiquette in my neighborhood, as no soliciting is allowed. But, with the concept of not enforcing rules that my HOA seems to have, the reality of the situation is that the rule is closer to, “No, there will be soliciting.”

(By the way, the no-soliciting rule only applies to physical soliciting. I get calls from A/C repair companies all the time, and they specifically mention the complex I live in when they pitch me.)

As soon as the guy starts mentioning chicken and steak, I knew this was what I call the “hot beef” scam. Knowing how our complex doesn’t like the hassle of me alerting them that there are solicitors on the prowl, I cut the guy a break and just let him go without incident. The meat seller sped off, not stopping at any other house in the neighborhood other than mine.

These companies with their unmarked trucks usually put vague ads in the papers of the bigger cities in the country looking for drivers, careful not to divulge what their job specifically entails when you call up their number. It’s usually a building in an industrial part of town with a bunch of trucks for employees to drive in, and the meat they sell is usually not USDA approved. My guess is it’s from Mexico or some other Central American country where labor is cheap enough to export it out to the United States so that a “money mark” here can buy it, thus turn it for a profit.

Employees are just as much as prey to the scam as are the owners, as they are the ones risking arrest for carrying the contraband, but again such an arrest is probably more a theory than a reality. I nearly fell for this scam looking for work twice in the 1990’s, in two separate big cities: here in Pinellas County and Atlanta, Georgia. All I can say is the scam was a bit elaborate in Atlanta than it was in the Tampa Bay area, and that’s how I fell for it twice.

The moral of the story is: if someone is selling you meat from a truck, it might give you a case of indigestion in more ways than one.



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