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YouTube viral hit that raised $130K for homeless man was staged, says eyewitness

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All good things must come to an end and, in the Internet world, a good thing usually ends by being proven to be a fraud. That’s apparently the case for the viral video that shows a YouTube star helping out a homeless man.

Just days before Christmas, YouTube star Josh Paler Lin posted a video that showed him giving a homeless man named “Thomas” $100. Lin keeps filming him, thinking that Thomas will use the money to buy liquor. Instead, Thomas buys it to get food for fellow homeless people. Lin tries to give Thomas another $100, but he rejects it. After the video went crazy, an Indiegogo fund was posted to raise money for Thomas. So far, with 20 days left, people have donated $134,973 to the fund. However, an eyewitness has told Vocativ that the whole thing was staged. “The whole thing is bulls**t. Thomas knew he was being followed,” Taugan Tan Kadalim, who says he was outside the liquor store Thomas went into, told the site. Kadalim later noted that Lin actually spoke to the store’s cashier while Thomas waited by Lin’s car. He also said that Lin drove Thomas to the liquor store. In another twist, Gawker notes that Thomas’ brother has come forward, telling CBS Los Angeles that the whole thing is a scam. Kevin Nickel claims that Thomas is his brother, Kenny Nickel and had family photos to share. Kevin also says that Kenny isn’t broke, since he will inherit $150,000 from their parents’ estate. “He’s sitting on money,” Kevin told CBS LA, adding that he’s not sure that Kenny even knows the Indiegogo campaign exists. “But this is a scam. This money needs to go to people who really need it.” screenshot via YouTube from Josh Palmer Lin