He approaches people on downtown streets and asks for $20 "because my car has just been towed away." He swears on a truckload of bibles that he'll repay you as soon as he can. But if you bite, you'll stay bit. The guy is a con man, and your money just took a permanent walk.

Or did it? Edward L. Manear of Landover was "hit" by this fine fellow the other day at 13th and L Streets NW. Trouble was, it was the fifth time the man had tried his sob story on Ed in a few months. Ed told him so, and added that he was going to call a cop.

"He immediately apologized and said I must have misunderstood. His pitch now was that he had been searching all over the area to find me and repay the loan . . . .'Please don't call a cop,' he says. 'Just let me repay you.' " To back up his words, says Ed, the guy pulled a wad of bills out of his pants "that would choke a horse."

If this sounds to you like a cornered rat rather than a man who sincerely wanted to repay a loan, I agree. Still, hats off to Ed for showing us how to achieve the unusual: shake a confidence man's confidence.