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We Detroiters know our panhandlers — you can’t hit a single gas station in town without getting hit up for your spare change. But now, the Web has ushered in a new era of handout seekers. That’s right, folks: Welcome to the new era of Cyber Begging — or E-Panhandling, if you will.

It probably all started with a girl named Karyn, who created savekaryn.com in an attempt to goad the public into helping her out of her $20,000 debt. Was Karyn in debt because of crushing medical bills due to a tragic accident? Noooo, she blatantly admits that she moved to New York and ran up her credit card on Prada pumps and lattes. We know what you’re thinking: uh, tough luck, bitch! But shockingly, Karyn’s plot worked. She garnered enough donations to pay off her debt and she sold her plight to a book publisher. Her site is now devoted to marketing the book; you can view her original begging site at savekaryn-originalsite.com.

Karyn’s success has paved the way for all manner of begging sites, from girls looking to fund breast implants to folks claiming to be saddled with medical debt. Just visit cyberbeg.com for a sampling. Yahoo! even has its own directory for e-panhandling: dir.yahoo.com/society_and_culture/issues_and_causes/poverty/panhandling/e_panhandling. Sure, it’s easy to feel compassion for folks who’ve suffered true personal and financial tragedy — but for every one of those cases, there’s some guy or gal who wants a new sports car or a new wardrobe and is just too damn selfish, self-absorbed and lazy to pay for it on his or her own.

Ready to sacrifice your dignity and give it a go yourself? Join up with your brethren at the Foundation for Online Begging: tkolinek.tripod.com/fibhome.htm. Or donatemoney2me.com will set up a begging site for you (it’ll cost you 33 cents a day, so you’ll have to beg for that too).

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