Ovidiu Gorea is a jaded, mid-40s, high-school teacher and novice writer, still living with his parents. He has just published a collection of short stories called 'Nobody Dies For Free', that the bookstores reject because no one buys it. The high school principal asks him to deal with a problem-student, Robert. Ovidiu has Robert call one of his parents for talks, but the boy sends his sister, Diana, a gorgeous teenager, instead. Ovidiu is smitten. He convinces Diana to go on a date with him, but what he thinks will be a quiet evening over coffee turns into a bar-hopping binge that leaves him nearly broke. One night, he meets a shabby-looking drunk beggar who offers to recite poems in exchange for vodka. The two start talking and Ovidiu learns that the guy makes two or three times more money than him in a month out of this. He asks for an explanation and the beggar refers him to the Filantropica Foundation. Located in a desolate basement, the Filantropica Foundation is actually the lair of Bucharest's beggars' leader, Pavel Puiu. A former convict, he realized that begging leads nowhere "unless there is a touching story behind the hand that begs", so he created an organized network of beggars, each with an invented, tear-jerking, background story that yields millions. Puiu listens to Ovidiu's story and thinks he is perfect for his new "project". He pairs Ovidiu with Miruna, his secretary, and sends them to high-profile restaurants, where, in collusion with a waiter, they pose as a couple of poor teachers celebrating their wedding anniversary who find, at the end of their dinner, that they don't have enough money to cover the check; Ovidiu is responsible with making a scene that would struck a chord with one of the rich people present, who would pick up their check out of pity; later, out in the back, Ovidiu, Miruna and the waiter would split the money. After several such performances, Ovidiu makes enough money to impress the material Diana. He rents a roadster, takes her to lakeshore clubs, his sole purpose being sleeping with her. The reluctant Puiu even gives him access to the foundation's "show-house" (a day-rental house meant to impress third-parties), but a poorly-timed customer call gives Ovidiu's cover away and an angry Diana leaves him. Meanwhile, Miruna falls for her partner in crime and is angry that he keeps "bitching" about that "bimbo", instead of going for a "real woman". She manages to get him into her bed and Ovidiu is surprised to find out she is a former prostitute. The scam goes terribly wrong when Ovidiu and Miruna go to a karaoke bar, where their scene has no effect and the waiter, who is not in on it, takes Ovidiu to the back and beats him. Puiu then unveils the grand purpose of his "project": he sets the unsuspecting Ovidiu to appear with Miruna "in character" on a popular TV night show and tell the karaoke bar beating story; he then calls, pretends of being revolted and announces that his foundation has opened an account for people who want to offer money for the "poor teachers". Meanwhile, in school, Ovidiu is visited by two thugs who ask him about Robert, who owes $3,000 to "a person" and who only has two days to make good. Ovidiu withdraws the amount from the foundation's account, calls Diana and gives her the money for her brother. She pretends being impressed and teases Ovidiu by telling him to visit her later that night. Naturally, she deceives him once more, by leaving the city in the afternoon. To top it off, Ovidiu finds Robert in a park, turned into a beggar, who tells him that "Diana" was not his sister, just some "chick". Now $3,000 short, Ovidiu goes home to find the media and Puiu claiming he has just won the big prize in the lottery. It is again one of Puiu's scams, who reminds Ovidiu he "has him" because of the $3,000. Ovidiu accepts his fate and Miruna as his wife. The movie has an ominous ending, with Puiu finding Robert in the street, convincing him to join his operation and then breaking the fourth wall: "Do you feel pity for this piece of trash? Hah! Got your money!".