Panhandler paparazzi are posting their encounters to Facebook

HOLLAND, Mich — Residents along the lakeshore are taking their concerns over panhandling to the streets.

In the past 48 hours, a Facebook page was created in which people show their encounters with panhandlers, who they say are lying about being in need.

Videos and photos posted to the page West Michigan Hardly Homeless Panhandlers show the confrontations.

One woman is seen following a man on a South Haven sidewalk. “You go city from city and try to scam from people,” she tells him.

The panhandler is heard telling her to leave him alone, but she responds by saying, “I will, as soon as you leave our town.”

With more than 700 people joining the Facebook group, within hours of its creation, FOX 17 reached out to the administrator, Mike Ochoa, to see why citizens are taking matters into their own hands.

“The whole purpose of it is to make [our community aware of] fraudulent panhandlers,” Ochoa said.

As of Wednesday morning, July 30, there were more than 2,400 members.

Ochoa said two of the men seen in the Facebook videos are related. They’ve been seen in Holland, South Haven and Grand Haven, and he added that while one of them is photographed holding a sign that reads, “Homeless,” they aren’t.

In another video, Ochoa is seen getting out of his car in Grand Haven and running up to a panhandler, who is also inside a truck. “So, how’s it feel to be hardly homeless?” Ochoa asks. “With a nice truck…nice truck and everything…all the stuff in the back and everything, how’s it feel to be hardly homeless?”

The man is seen flipping Ochoa off before the video ends.

What could be called paparazzi for panhandlers first began earlier in July when a man took a picture of himself next to a panhandler. He was holding a sign claiming the man wasn’t in need.

While the panhandlers aren’t breaking any laws, Ochoa and other vocal members of the community said they want them to leave their neighborhoods.

FOX 17 tried finding the men in the videos to get their take on being followed but didn’t have any luck.

We also reached out to the South Haven Police Department where some of the videos were shot but didn’t hear back by Tuesday evening.

 

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29 comments

  • Fox17 viewer

    There was a post going around on facebook a couple of months ago that a woman posted about a specific panhandler in the Grand Rapids area. In the post she says the panhandler was in a wheelchair, after he took an offering from a car, she watched as the posing homeless man got out of his wheelchair, folded it up and placed it in a vehicle parked nearby. Without any visible sign of having a disability. He also had the nerve to wave the cash he had just received from the car in a teasing manor, as if he were rubbing it in the generous driver’s face that he just scammed him. If everyone just stopped giving these beggers hand outs and donated to local charities that help the honest needy then scammers on street corners will eventually give up.

    • kristina

      All that is true but u forgot the important part. He had both his legs in casts removed them and started dancing around…. That was close by me. I’ve seen him a few times before his picture was posted online.

    • Brandon

      ALL THE CRAZY THINGS THAT ARE HAPPENING IN THE WORLD, AND Y’ALL WORRIED ABOUT SOME PANHANDLERS THAT’S NOT BOTHERING ANYONE! !
      GET SOME REAL NEWS! !

  • sjsj

    The funny thing is I work at a store in holland where there’s a camp that ACTUAL Homeless people live. Those people don’t ask for anything they walk around here looking for cans for what they want and even though it’s their choice to live the way they do they aren’t asking for anything from anyone yet people look at them like their bad ! But people will fed and put money into these people’s hands and their not even struggling personally I don’t have Facebook I don’t see these people on a corner anymore but the woman on 16th and Columbia and she even has a house right on 17th. Everyone needs to stop feeding into this we work for what we want they need to learn to do the same sorry shit doesn’t come free in life

    • ahm

      Do youknow where on 17th? As in, can this be verified? Many people have described her as aggressive and a nuisance. It would be nice to know if she is legitimately homeless or not.

  • Samantha

    I have emailed news stations several times about a man in the walker area. Alpine/target, Alpine/ Wal-Mart. He plays his violin begging for $ while he parks his newer gold car very close by! Gagging…. unfortunately I’ll never forget a couple years ago when a man went on the news that he makes average 300$ /day…. all while working a full time job!!! Get educated people…..

  • Kathy

    I am personally relieved that people like mike Ochoa are out there confronting these people. I work hard for my money to provide for myself and family. If we as a community turn a blind eye to this we are sending the message that this is okay, that lying and scamming people out of hard earned money is welcome in our towns. They pull on your heart strings to make you feel sorry and take pity on them but they have no reservations about taking what you worked for, so they can spend their days in comfort doing what want while you are away from your loved ones earning money to put food on the table. Despicable low lives.

  • Bill Krupar

    The other day I saw a woman on a street corner with a nice deep dark tan standing on the corner with a sign requesting money. You know how long it takes to get a NICE tan that is almost perfect?
    I’m not talking about a partial neck or arm tan, I’m talking a perfect beach or pool tan Enough time to go out and find a job!!

  • JoAnne

    We have seen beggars in every large city we’ve traveled. I am offended my them, not that they are dirty, being homeless and all, but that they are all clean and dressed well.

  • Aj

    There was a guy that used to stand on the corner of alpine and alpenhorn or over by mcdonalds and one day I followed him to a apartment in yorkcreek, he went in changed clothes and got into a newer ford f150 and drove off! One employee at the restaraunt said they were hiring and he made a comment “why would I work here when I can make more in one hour out there then you make all week”, And then flashed a book bag full of cash! I’ve also seen one at that same corner had a nice camero parked behind him in the Salvation Army lot and he would go stand on the corner with a sign. He had a iPhone, a nice car and I bet a nice home. I won’t give cash to them at all!

  • grizz

    its going to be funny when one of these people confront somone about it and get there ass beat for not minding there own bizzness

    • makeluvnotwar

      I was thinking exactly what GRIZZ said, I mean they are harrasing these people. in a video I watched they were screaming and getting the man driving so nervous that he almost drove out into a extremely busy road, so does someone need to be hurt for these people who take the time (and a lot of it) to publicly humiliate panhandlers?they are causing a more hostile environment and all I see is something horrific happening.
      Solution to the problem that you all are so passionate about, just don’t give away your money if you don’t want to. But guess what? I always give them money, and I will even more so just because of the bs they have to deal with from the neighborhood heros.
      I can’t believe more people don’t think this is the wrong way to approach the issue especially to when they are not breaking the law, and omg how do you know what homeless is? That judge these people in the information they get from harrassing them, obviously they dont feel they have enough money and are using a legal act to recieve it, I think you guys are going to mess with the wrong one on the wrong day that truley is homeless and be crying because you got beat up by the homeless. Lol you look like bully’s, and you are making “your neighborhoods look even more tacky, I’m embarrassed for all of you.

      • ahm

        Sure…give more to the lying cheat standing on the corner just because he’s a master at looking pathetic and sad. Meanwhile, in some homeless shelter, there is truly a person in need who is working hard to change their lives for the better. When you donate to a shelter, it’s more than a bed for the night. There is no possible argument for giving to one con on a corner instead of donating to a shelter for positive change.

      • Max

        bravo!!! Finally someone that is intelligent enough to make their own decision and not follow the herd. People have choices, whether others agree or not. Live and let live. If you don’t like what someone does……move on

  • Concerned???

    Although I do not live in your area, we also have similar issues in our area. I see well to do families standing in line for free school supplies, intended to help less fortunate children. Known business owners who stand on the interstate off ramps with signs stating they are homeless and hungry with their children along side of them and hear them later boasting of the money they made. The fact is you have a choice whether to give or not to give.
    Many people who judge these folks are on public assistance and working cash jobs or collecting food stamps by falsifying their living situations and under reporting income. You have no choice whether or not to help these people and they don’t have to stand out in the public and beg for help it is given to them so that they may go to their local grocery stores and convenience stores and purchase soda and candy. While spending their money on cigarettes and beer. Does anyone confront these people? Isn’t one just as wrong as the other?

  • Busker

    I live on disability payments – due to a real, physical handicap – which is barely enough to get by each month. If I choose to supplement my income, by playing my guitar on the street, so I can afford to eat and pay to get to my doctors appointments and medications, what’s wrong with that? I don’t beg or bother people, I move somewhere else if asked to, and try to politely thank each and every person that helps. If someone choose not to put anything in my guitar case? I’m not angry, as it’s their choice. Street performers, in many other countries, are paid by local governments for their services – as it’s seen as providing cultural enrichment. If you don’t like it? Then don’t contribute your money to it, but there’s no need to chase us around with cameras like animals!

  • makeluvnotwar

    You guys can keep saying give to a homeless shelter but I live in Muskegon and approx a year ago I was informed that 11 sex offenders were registered there, yes 11. So not such a great idea.

    • makeluvnotwar

      That’s exactly what I’m trying to figure out, these people are harrasing people who panhandle, they categorize all of them and assume that because they have vehicles that they are not struggling in life, or because a man brings a wheelchair to sit in while he panhandles and then stands up at the end of his day he is being dishonest, well my mother can walk but uses a cart at the grocery store since it causes her less pain, so is she a dishonest person? Bottom line is you never know what someone is going through, whether they are homeless, or just found the nerve to panhandle to get what they need, really its the choice of the person with the money to give it away or not, and its a legal choice for someone to panhandle. But grown adults harrasing and stalking people for the choices they make is just outrageous.

  • pictures

    When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox
    and now each time a comment is added I get three e-mails with the
    same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?
    Cheers!

  • Norm Green

    I don’t see any worries about how much money is being stolen by big business, banks, the military industrial complex, or any number of “legitimate” people or organizations that steal many times more than panhandlers. People are so shallow and easily distracted. It’s just like a pick-pocket. They divert your attention, steal you blind and you don’t have a clue! That person maybe makes $100 per day. Good money? Yes. In the same amount of time your bank probably made a million overcharging their customers! Do you care about that? Probably not, because you are too worried about “some guy who ain’t workin’ gettin’ a “free ride.”

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