Earlier this week, Vocativ interviewed an eyewitness who said a viral video that has raised over $130,000 in questionably held donations was staged. Now a man who claims he's related to the video's homeless star has come forward, saying "it's all a scam" and his seemingly penniless brother is actually due to inherit $150,000 from their parents' estate.
In the video, YouTube prankster Josh Paler Lin gives a panhandler named "Thomas" $100. Expecting him to spend it on booze, Lin "secretly" films the man, who instead uses the money to buy food for others.
Since it was uploaded last week, the touching video has been watched almost 30 million times and raised over $130,000 on a donation page managed by Lin to help Thomas "get a fresh start." But according to a Huntington Beach man, nothing in the video is as it seems, down to its star's name.
Kevin Nickel told KCBS-TV that "Thomas" is actually his brother, Kenny Nickel, showing the station family photos of the sibling he reportedly fears is "being manipulated."
His brother also says Kenny is actually not broke. He is due $150,000 from his parents' estate.
"He's sitting on money," Kevin said, not sure if his brother is even aware of the Indiegogo money being collected on his behalf. "But this is a scam. This money needs to go to people who really need it."
This echoes the sentiments of eyewitness Taugan Kadalim, who claims he saw the video being filmed. "[I]t is clear that from what I saw every part of that scene was staged," Kadalim told Vocativ on Tuesday. "The whole thing is bullshit."
[Images via YouTube/KCBS-TV]