The video was one of those viral sensations that tugs on your heartstrings and compels you to watch, because it defies your expectations and shows you just how kind and compassionate human beings can be. There was only one problem.
The video was a fake — at least according to a witness who says he was there while the YouTube hit, “How Does A Homeless Man Spend $100?” was filmed.
You have probably seen the video by now — if not, view it above. Posted by the prolific prankster Josh Paler Lin — whose other videos include “Sex In The Bathroom Prank” and “Rock Paper Scissors Hickey!” — the viral video purported to be a “social experiment” in which Paler Lin gave a homeless man identified as “Thomas” a hundred bucks in cash, then “secretly” filmed him as he spent the money.
Why? Because Thomas spent his money not on booze or drugs, but on food. And not just for himself. He used the cash to purchase and distribute food to his fellow homeless people in Orange County, California.
That means Paler Lin may have grossed anywhere from $28,000 to $140,000 off this single video — in one week.
Perhaps more important, Paler Lin created a crowdfunding campaign along with the video, to raise more money for Thomas. That campaign has so far brought in about $130,000 in donations from people moved by the selfless acts Thomas performs in the video.
But in an interview posted on the siteVocativ on Tuesday, Taugan Tan Kadalim, who says he stumbled by chance across Paler Lin filming the video and witnessed the whole thing, calls the entire scenario “bull****.”
Kadalim, 26, says that he was there at Euclid Liquor & Market where he had just purchased a lottery ticket before walking across the street to his girlfriend’s apartment, and that what he saw made it clear that “Thomas knew he was being followed.”
Kadalim says he is a fan of Paler Lin and recognized the YouTube celebrity immediately.
He then watched as Paler Lin entered the liquor store and spoke with a clerk as Thomas waited outside. Only after Paler Lin returned, Kadalim told Vocativ, did Thomas enter the liquor store.
“He drove Thomas to the liquor store,” Kadalim told the site. “While I think the guy is homeless, it is clear that from what I saw every part of that scene was staged.”
Vocativ said its reporters corroborated the story with Kadalim’s girlfriend and brother, but calls to the liquor store went unreturned. Kadalim posted a comment to the video’s YouTube page the day the video went on line, saying quote clearly that Paler Lin drove Thomas to the store, but the comment went largely ignored.
Paler Lin, however, adamantly denied faking any part of the “homeless” viral video, telling Vocativ, “There is no way we’re making any of this up. This is real.”