When it comes to charity, some people like to give causes that have a personal significance.
However, we cannot deny that it tugs at our heartstrings when we see a person in need out on the street as well.
This is good to hear, but there are also times when the people on the streets are not who they seem to be…
Homelessness is an unspoken yet growing epidemic in the US. This number is growing every year, with now roughly 550,000 people who are without shelter, warmth, food, and protection each night.
Who Would Have Thought This Pregnant Beggar Was Not Who She Said She Was?
Every American comes in contact with poverty, yet some choose to stay silent. However, some refuse to succumb to this kind of denial. Being on the streets is something none of us can begin to understand.
A Dark Secret
It is one thing to be alone and struggling but even worse, to be pregnant and have no food or shelter. But still, people chose to pass her by. She was in desperate need of help when Melissa Smith came into the picture.
This woman was holding a sign begging for change and help as she stood beside her son. She remained at the corner with her ginormous belly, waiting for some kindness. The strangers who passed by could see this woman was carrying a child, but what they never expected was the secret she was also harboring.
Melissa Smith admits and prides herself on her ability to care for another human being. She isn’t the type of person to see a beggar and pass them by. Smith saw the condition this pregnant beggar was in, and she couldn’t help but stop and see what she could do to help.
When Melissa saw this woman, she couldn’t help but suffer emotionally. She couldn’t bear to see this woman standing around all day carrying a baby and her young son next to her. Sometimes she noticed that her husband came to help, but that was only the weekends.
What was it that Smith could do now to help? She was frozen to the spot she was standing on as she kept staring in front of her. She tried to come up with any other reason, but only one thing came to mind.
East Lake Village Center
She was fooled! It was hard for her to believe what she saw. Did that panhandler just get into that nice car? She knew there was only one thing to do: follow it and find out for herself! She did not know what she was about to get into.
Melissa Smith is a resident of San Diego, California. She had been going about her day as usual when she found the panhandler in the same spot. However, she felt something odd, so she followed her gut and put her detective hat on.
As she stood right beside her car, she witnessed the beggar and her little boy leave. The next thing that Melissa saw made her jump into action. The beggar often stayed at a certain spot not that far from a shopping plaza called East Lake Village Center, where there are thrift stores, dentists, hair stylists, restaurants, and other shops.
This pregnant panhandler knew that this was a good place to stay because many people would not hesitate to help people in need. However, it was clear that this woman did not expect what Melissa Smith was up to.
In California, it is not all that uncommon to find homeless people and beggars on the streets. However, not every single one of them is homeless. A lot of people know this. Even though she felt apprehension about this pregnant beggar, she refrained from reaching that line of thinking whenever she saw the woman on the weekends.
Smith said, “I felt bad. There’s a pregnant lady with a little boy who is down on her luck.” Whoever would have thought that her gut instinct was leading her exactly to the right path? Smith saw this pregnant beggar stay underneath the heat of the sun to ask for money many times.
Woman in Question
However, the panhandler did not always go by herself. There were times when her son or her partner joined her. When this happens, they would also stand in that spot. They have become famous among the people who frequented the area since there were not many beggars.
Everyone felt bad because she was pregnant, so they often gave her more money. What did Smith discover later on? Melissa entered the local gas station, where she caught a glance at the woman and noticed it was the pregnant beggar.
Her Recognizable Sign
However, she later noticed a bizarre and surprising sight. Something she would have never seen coming. There was no reason for Smith to get suspicious until that day. She saw the beggar stay in the same spot for two months.
Of course, she assumed that this pregnant woman was truly in need. She even felt sympathetic because it was already hard enough to stay rooted on the spot, so it was probably more dangerous for someone expecting!
At The Gas Station
However, Smith learned something about this person. It certainly seemed like this pregnant beggar already knew the art of begging by heart. She mastered how to tug at the heartstrings to make some money.
For one thing, she must have known that it would be easier to do that while pregnant and standing beside your child. She also had a cardboard sign with the words “Please Help” on it.
People gave her money because they felt bad for her. Even though Smith knew it was only a matter of time before she got caught, time was of the essence. Smith resided somewhere near this shopping district.
However, she did not normally drop by the place during this particular time. She normally did her errands there in mid-morning. On that day, she had just finished everything she had to do for the day.
She was finishing her errands at the East Lake Village Center and went to the gas station nearby. She was low on gas, after all. After she loaded the car, something suspicious caught her eye. What was it?
As she filled up the gas tank of her car, she noticed the pregnant beggar move away. She did not think this was all that strange. After all, she was sure it was tiring to stay under the heat of the sun for such a long time!
Smith then observed the beggar and then saw a car headed towards her. Of course, she only found herself more interested in what was going to happen next. It proved that her hunch was right. In the beginning, she had no idea just what exactly was happening.
After she got a better look at the car, she found that the person in the driver’s seat was the father of the little boy. However, what truly surprised her was that the car came from the luxury carmaker Mercedes Benz!
She knew that those cars cost an arm and a leg, so what were these beggars doing in one? She did not even have to think twice when she started the car to follow them around. According to Smith, what made it even more interesting was how new the car looked.
Their Next Move
She said, “They were leaving, and I noticed they went into a Mercedes Benz. I thought, ‘Wow, a Mercedes Benz?’” She got her phone and then recorded it all. “Lo and behold, they were in front of us. Here they are counting money, laughing. Their little boy is not in a car seat or a seat belt. He’s in the front seat with them,” she narrated.
She witnessed all of these things unfold in front of her when she tracked down the Mercedes Benz. Smith felt so betrayed by these people. Even though she needed to expose them, she wanted to learn more first.
She continued to follow the car, which took her to a different shopping center not that far from where she first saw them. It seemed like everything had been planned out perfectly. The pregnant beggar got out of the car and then made a fool of the mallgoers once more.
The Saga Continues
Melissa followed the couple to see where they were going. At the end of the day, she was still the compassionate girl she always was, and she wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. She hoped this was all a misunderstanding.
Enraged with Fury
But Unfortunately for her, things were only going to get more shocking from here. Smith said, “She just sits there with the sign. He goes (and) parks the Mercedes. They put up the sign and not less than five minutes; here she is getting money from all these people.”
An Eye Witness
However, Smith did not have a single clue that the authorities would be investigating this insanely tactical, yet not tactical enough, operation soon. They were going to uncover something even more sinister at work than what Smith thought of in the first place.
The deception continued as the man parked the Mercedes while the woman got out with her son at another shop curb. Within minutes, the woman began receiving money from the people walking by.
Melissa couldn’t just watch this. She had to do something about it. Smith went up to the panhandler and the little boy but kept taking pictures the entire time. The pregnant beggar saw her and instantly became furious.
People Were Catching On
The panhandler started to yell at her and even held up the rock supporting her sign. Smith explained, “Next thing I know, she picked up this big boulder.” She went on, “I don’t know if pregnant people can do that…”
Luckily for Melissa, an eye witness was watching the entire interaction and immediately called 911. The con woman made an abrupt escape and had fled the scene by the time the cops arrived at the scene.
Smith told the police everything she knew. “…but it was pretty big over her head and coming at me with this rock.” It was a good thing that someone witnessed this moment unfolding and called the police.
However, the beggar figured out what was happening and ran away with her son. Smith got in touch with a news station and took to the Internet to reveal the scam. She hoped to warn everyone about this grand scheme devised by the deceitful group.
The story made its way to the news station, which then ran the car’s plate number. They were surprised to find the vehicle registered under the name of a woman – sadly, there was no address in the records.
“Is This You?”
It was also shocking to learn that others were onto the same beggar. Reporters did some investigation on their own and learned that this woman lived in Encinitas Heights Apartments. It was an apartment complex that costs the residents $2,500 each month.
Things Are Fishy
The reporters tried to knock on the door a couple of times, although no one answered the door. After a few more tries, someone let them know that there were new residents there. The previous ones already packed up their things and moved out!
Smith managed to record everything she witnessed with her phone, which is why the mystery beggar started to get a lot of attention on the news and social media. The story began to spread farther and farther.
A New Disguise
Smith said, “I feel bad. Don’t give these people money. They don’t need it. They’re driving a Benz.” People were infuriated when they learned the truth. The journalists also got an important call. A witness by the name of Rebecca found the beggar at a different shopping center.
According to Rebecca, she went there, saw the panhandler, and recognized her right away. She let reporters know about it. It only took a few minutes for reporter Emily Valdez to arrive at the scene.
When Valdez received the call, she went to the area right away. She looked around for this mystery beggar. She was surprised to find that she was no longer pregnant. Instead, she was now carrying a baby!
How was this possible when Melisa Smith only took those photos two days before then? Valdez and the rest of the crew approached the woman. She pulled up her phone and held up the photo of the pregnant beggar before asking her, “Is this you, begging?”
Under the Exterior
After the woman looked at the photo for a while, she only said she did not speak English. Apart from the baby that she was holding, she was accompanied by the boy who looked just like the boy in the photo.
The Truth Comes Out
The crew had been in the middle of questioning her when the father arrived. He told the members of the press to scram and took his family with him. The cameras captured them going inside a minivan.
The crew did not feel discouraged by this and ran the women’s photos on a facial recognition program. In the end, the results displayed an 80% match! Valdez believed this story is even bigger than they already thought.
Valdez would not give up, and she followed the children and couple. She was confused to see their new car, now a minivan instead of a Mercedes. What’s worse, the children weren’t even wearing their seatbelts.
Breaking Many Laws
They were in clear danger. Although he talked in another language when he spoke to the female beggar, the man started to speak in Spanish. The small detail was dealt a blow to his cover. Valdez replayed the clip and noticed that he switched to a different language.
She then asked the help of experts to clarify some things. Leslie Albright is a retired detective who watched the news report headed by Valdez. She had been with the San Diego Police Department for 25 years before she decided to retire.
She specialized in underground crime rings. This case piqued her attention right away. Why? Apparently, she realized that the female beggar was not just an ordinary beggar. The story went viral online, and over 6 million viewers viewed youtube footage of the couples.
The Bottom Rung
The responses were quite controversial, with someone sympathetic, while others were outraged. They said this gives real beggers a bad rep. But this wasn’t the end of the story. The female panhandler who made many people angry got exposed, although there was more to the story than meets the eye.
This is a case that showed the growing problem in that area. Underneath the fancy and glittering façade of the Golden State, a dark underbelly was growing bigger and bigger. Despite everything, a Redditor was determined to expose it all.
The Mercedes- Benz was registered to a local woman living near the location where Smith originally spotted the suspect. However, this homeless woman was not actually homeless and was even paying $2,500 rent each month.
Struggling For Money
Once the story went public, the couple immediately fled the residence. Leslie Albright had seen many criminal activities throughout her career in the world of law enforcement. When she heard the man speak, she could tell that there was something wrong there.
It’s Your Lucky Day
When she listened to what he said, she figured out what language he was using. That was when she realized that this modus operandi lined up with another one that she had seen in the past.
Working the Streets
Albright then explained that the couple was involved with a California crime ring. They went to the country illegally and committed various crimes daily. They lived in a pricey apartment and had numerous cars at their disposal.
Choosing to Struggle
She even said that it was possible that the man and woman were not even an actual couple. The “pregnancy” must be nothing more than a technique to get the sympathy of the passersby. However, what other crimes were these people involved with?
Conning the Public
There seem to be so many layers to this case, so we hope you are ready to hear the truth. Sadly, this particular crime group moves to new places often. This is the reason the police have a hard time locking them up.
As soon as they sense that someone has figured out what they were up to, they would head on to a different location. This was precisely what the two suspects did. However, someone familiar with the two suspects ended up giving up information about them…
Concern For The Children
He risked his life to do that! A man who saw the video about this beggar couple stepped forward and took to Reddit to expose everything he knows about them. He said, “…I had a friend of a friend tell me that they knew them and that they’re just a hustling pair of Con Artists whose families conned their way into the country.”
He also said that he was aware of the terrible past the woman went through. Apparently, she strart4ed to work for this organization ever since she was little. After he talked about the details, he deleted the account because he feared that the underground crime organization would figure out who he was.
After investigating the matter, they learned that the woman in the photos and videos often pretended to be pregnant. This was so she could get pity out of the victims she asked for money from.
She reportedly makes more than $500 each day! Unfortunately, there are many other women in the same position as her. The operations and inner systems of this crime organization can get complicated.
Several men lead the organization from up high. Women are told they would get food and housing, so they get dispatched to different parts of the country. With their begging and manipulation, they get to keep up an expensive lifestyle and live in luxurious homes.
More To The Story
However, there was actually more to the story than just that. During one interview, Albright explained how it works: “They’ll use the babies, children, anyway they can… the children will not go to school because their job and their future is the Family Business.”
The Reddit user who gave out various details about the organization also said, “People should know, there’s PLENTY of service and organizations that exist to help people and ESPECIALLY for women with children.
They’re taking advantage of them all as well as scamming people at the parking lot entrances. Neither of them is reporting the money they’re making from her begging, and both are claiming poverty to get state and federal assistance.”
Threatening Phone Calls
As soon as he blew the whistle, he reportedly started receiving threatening phone calls. However, he had one last thing to say before deleting his account on the site. This nameless whistleblower made a post on the Reddit account.
Call The Cops
The post read: “They might be up and trying this scam again, or it might be another woman; either way call the cops on them, making sure to tell the dispatch that they’re “the BMW scammers” so they’re identified, and the state can start the proper deportation proceedings against them… don’t help any of them or give money to any of the panhandlers you might see.”
On The Hunt
At the moment, the authorities are looking for the head of this criminal organization. When the story made it big, people started to be warier about handing out money to beggars. After all, none of them could be sure that this is nothing more than a modus operandi by the local crime organization!
It’s a terrible concept that people resort to begging for money. They sit for hours and only make about $15 a day. Some use this money useful, but others just choose substances and lead to a life of crime.
Many feel depressed and helpless. This process can be tiring and draining. Some days you come up with nothing, and they end the day with an empty stomach. There are surprise cases like in 2014, where a couple made $350 in a few hours.
Or in Oaklahoma, a beggar who made $650,000 in a year! These cases are almost unheard of. A 2001 research was conducted finding that 70% of Toronto-based beggars would rather find minimum-wage work than beg on the streets.
Also, it was found that the local beggars made about $300 per month. Most of these individuals have families to provide for, which is not enough to supply a family with food and shelter. Weirdly enough, some people actually choose to stay on the street.
All They Know
They may be comfortable with their situation and don’t know anything else. They are reliant on the criminal activity and drugs that have trapped them within their terrible circumstances. While some beggars may be passive, others often resort to aggression and harassment. There will always be people who will do anything to get by and survive, but begging can be downright deceptive.
Thousands Of Stories
There are thousands of stories just like this woman. Lies are told, cons are executed, and children are exploited to increase their gains. There is a lot of controversy surrounding beggars. Some see this behavior as extortion and harassment.
The Main Concern
Others understand and think any law against it would be discrimination. However, this pregnant woman’s case goes against any moral code. While this story caused a great deal of chaos, the important factor everyone is concerned about is the children’s well-being.
Betrayed Many People
This couple has deceived the public, and what’s more, has betrayed struggling men and women who are truly in need of assistance. This case shows that some people use dishonesty and exploitation to make ends meet.
Be Kind To Others
Although this may be true, it is crucial to keep in mind that some people are in terrible situations and can really benefit from strangers’ kindness. Stop and help someone in need of help; you may change their lives or just make their day!
Another Unfortunate Story
Another story about a pregnant woman accused of shoplifting has surfaced. It all began with Sherell Bates, who was out shopping at Staples in Pineville, North Carolina, on Friday. She ended up having to show her bump to a cop, who mistook the bump under her shirt for stolen items.
‘What’s Under Your Shirt?’
According to Stephanie Tinoco of WSOC, Bates was trying to pay for notebooks and other school supplies for her two older children at a Staples in Pineville, North Carolina, when she has pulled aside an officer watching the store. The officer inquired as to what was beneath Bates’ shirt. “Twins,” she says.
He Didn’t Believe Her
According to Bates, the officer did not believe her. So she lifted her shirt to show him her belly and told Tinoco, “so he could see that I’m just a regular pregnant person buying school supplies.”
The incident is the latest in a long line of high-profile incidents in which black customers in retail stores across the country have been falsely accused of theft while simply trying to shop. Shopping while pregnant with twins was stressful enough for Bates, so she didn’t need to be accused of faking her pregnancy to steal school supplies.
Staples released a statement regarding the incident, stating, “while a customer was shopping, a manager mistakenly thought they were possibly shoplifting and asked a police officer that happened to be in the store to talk with the customer.” The statement continued, “After a quick conversation, the issue was resolved, the manager apologized to the customer and refunded their transaction due to the inconvenience.”
Manager In Question
According to a separate statement released by Staples to Vox on Monday, the incident manager was fired following an investigation into the incident. The statement said, “The manager in question did not follow correct protocol and also failed to adhere to our existing policy on how to interact with our customers.”
Taking Legal Actions
Bates says she’s thinking about taking legal action. Her ordeal is one of several recent instances in which black customers have been stopped by police and interrogated — or worse — while simply going about their business. Two black men were arrested and removed from a Starbucks in Philadelphia, waiting for a business associate in April.
The phenomenon of “shopping while black” has piqued the interest of researchers. According to a 2009 study, white salespeople were more suspicious of black customers who asked to have a security tag removed from an item. They were especially suspicious of black men.
As Per The Poll
According to a 2015 poll, black Americans were more likely to report unfair treatment at a restaurant or store than police encounters. This is most likely because shopping and eating out are such commonplace and unavoidable aspects of life.
A High Risk
The fact that Bates was pregnant at the time added to the difficulty of the situation. “Being pregnant is already high-risk,” she explained, adding that being suspected of a crime while preparing her children for school was “just additional stress that I don’t need.”
Stress Of Racism
Furthermore, racism can impact their pregnancies and future children; some experts believe that the stress of racism puts black women at a higher risk of giving birth prematurely, which increases the risk of infant mortality.
The emotional toll of having to prove she wasn’t a thief by exposing her pregnant belly to a cop has been significant for Bates. “After this incident,” Tinoco of WSOC said, “she was so sick to her stomach, she regrets leaving the house.”