An eyewitness to a mega-viral video that helped raise over $130,000 for a generous homeless man is now revealing it was all a scam.

The homeless man’s brother has come forward saying that his penniless brother is set to inherit $150,000 from their parents’ estate.


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The heart-warming “social experiment” made the creator a mint on the web, but now major doubt is setting in. 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. h/t gawker

Kevin Nickel “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.”

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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 bulls**t.”