When it involves giving aid, most people prefer to donate to causes that are personal and precious to their hearts. And yet whenever we see a homeless person on the street, it starts to tug on our emotional strings and encourage us to reach out to them. It is a beautiful thing, but often the people we pass by on the streets aren’t the ones we think they are. We can never really know who we’re giving our money.
She was stuck on the ground when she gazed. She searched her brain for some excuse. But one thing is obvious. She’s been fooled for a long time. She couldn’t believe it when she saw the homeless guy in an expensive vehicle. Then she knew that she had to follow this puzzle and crack it. She wasn’t ready for the deception she was going to discover.
Melissa Smith, who is also from San Diego, California, was doing her daily routine on a regular day when she saw the panhandler again. But something seemed odd to Melissa and, following her gut, she decided to do some detective work of her own. As Melissa stood by her car, she saw the beggar and the child go away. The next thing she saw was what had pushed her into pursuit.
East Lake Village Center
In reality, the panhandler had built a spot near the shopping plaza, in the East Lave Village Center, to be precise. This shopping area has a diverse array of goodwill stores, dentists, restaurants, hairdressers and, of course, retailers. The pregnant panhandler knew for sure that this place would have a lot of people ready to give their spare money to the poor. But what she didn’t expect, however, is that someone like Smith would be watching her.
It’s not a new concept to see beggars and panhandlers in California, but people do need to know that not all of them are desperate. Smith was particularly anxious about this pregnant panhandler, but she didn’t have the feeling when she saw her on the same spot every weekend. Smith said, “I felt bad. There’s a pregnant lady with a little boy who is down on her luck.” She didn’t realize that her feeling was correct.
The pregnant beggar will sit under the blazing hot sun’s rays and beg for some spare money. But she wasn’t all alone, and occasionally her young son would accompany her to the location. Smith said there were times when the father would be standing with them, too. They have become well known in the community as pregnant panhandlers are not very frequent. The fact that she’s pregnant is pulling people’s emotions and making them give more than expected because of her situation. But what do you think Smith has figured out about this homeless woman?
Woman in Question
Smith wasn’t even curious until then. She had been seeing the same lady at the same place in the shopping area for two months. Smith thought that the female needed the cash. Choosing to stay out there for a long time, particularly in the glare of the sun, would have been incredibly challenging for anybody, much less a pregnant lady! But then, Smith witnessed something, and she realized she wasn’t supposed to be quiet about it.
The pregnant beggar must have perfected the art of pleading because she had to tug on people’s emotions to get their cash. She had to make the strategy as a pregnant woman asking for change with her little kid by her side. She also had a clipboard with the words “Please Help” handwritten on it. Who wouldn’t feel sympathy for someone like that? People felt a bit sorry for them and handed them cash. Smith figured they’d be found too. She didn’t realize then that she was going to be crucial in revealing a much deeper operation.
Smith’s residence is close to the shopping area. But at that particular time, it was her first experience to go there. She will typically be on her way to the shopping complex about mid-morning. As she left the area, she noticed that her gas was getting scarce. She went straight to the gas station directly across the East Lake Village Center. She was loading up her gas tank when she noticed something odd that launched her pursuit.
Smith saw the pregnant panhandler starting to shift as she was pouring gas into her vehicle. She didn’t find it odd, and besides, she must have been exhausted underneath the sun all that time. Smith kept watching her until she saw the car towards the pregnant lady. It has made Smith even more curious. What happened next confirmed that her assumptions were correct.
Smith did not understand what was going on at first. But when she looked carefully, she saw that the rider was the father. What shocked her was the kind of car he was riding, the Mercedes Benz, a famous luxury brand. Each of these vehicles is worth a lot. Smith was curious about what the beggars were doing with such an expensive vehicle. She didn’t hesitate and followed them. What she found next was the content for the headlines.
Smith said the automobile was new. “They were leaving, and I noticed they went into a Mercedes Benz. I thought, ‘Wow, a Mercedes Benz?” Smith said. The whole thing was captured on her phone when she chased the family in the Mercedes Benz. “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 said. She never felt so cheated. She felt she wanted to share this for everybody. Little did she know the magnitude of their fraud.
Smith tried to pursue the car and saw that they had entered another mall. That’s not far from the one they emerged. It seemed like it was all precisely organized. When they entered the shopping area, the pregnant panhandler got out of the car and deceived everyone again. Smith said, “She 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.” She didn’t realize that the authorities would soon probe and discover a much more sinister conspiracy.
Enraged with Fury
Smith confronted the homeless person and her little child. She began snapping pictures when she did. The pregnant beggar saw her, and the beggar was immediately angry. She started screaming and even took the stone to support her sign. “Next thing I know, she picked up this big boulder,” Smith said, “I don’t know if pregnant people can do that, but it was pretty big over her head and coming at me with this rock.” Somebody saw everything and then contacted the police. But when the homeless person figured out what was going on, she took her kid and fled.
Smith got in contact with the news channel, and also exposed everything on the web. She decided to warn everyone about this greater scheme planned by this highly manipulative panhandler. The story received the media outlet’s attention, and they wanted to run the car plate number. They were shocked to find out that the car was under the name of a woman and that the address was confidential. It was shocking to discover that others might be on the same beggar, too.
Reporters tracked the scent and discovered that the person lived in the Encinitas Heights Apartments, an apartment complex that costs tenants $2,500 a month. They knocked on the door, but no one answered. After a couple more attempts, they were told that the owners of the apartment had just moved in. And that the one they were looking for had already packed up their stuff.
As Smith had captured everything on her mobile, the social media and news expressed a great deal of interest in this elusive beggar. The story was shared, and they all soon found out about it. Smith said, “I feel bad. Don’t give these people money. They don’t need it. They’re driving a Benz.” people were outraged at what they saw. Journalists then got a call that inspired them to take action.
Rebecca, another eyewitness, saw the panhandler in another shopping complex. She said she remembered the homeless person when she went to the area to do some purchasing. She called the reporters, and a few moments later, Emily Valdez came.
When Valdez got the call, she went straight to the area and checked for the elusive homeless person. She didn’t see a pregnant woman to her shock. Instead, she saw a woman holding a child. But only two days have passed since Melisa Smith took the photographs. So, what had transpired?
“Is This You?”
Valdez and her team confronted the lady and asked, “Is this you, begging? “As she revealed a picture of a pregnant panhandler on her mobile. The woman said she didn’t know English after looking at the photo for a moment. Was that her? Interestingly, the woman carrying a child also had a boy by her side that looks uncannily like the one in the photo. Just as the woman was asked, the father came in.
He ordered the cameras to leave and brought his family with him, but they were captured in a camera, going inside a minivan. Yet the news team was not disappointed. The photographs of both women were shown on the facial recognition software, and the results indicated an 80% match. However, Valdez felt there was more to the story than the eye could see.
The man spoke Spanish for the first time, but he shifted to some other language when he spoke to the homeless person. Unknowingly, he ruined his cover with this little info. Valdez replayed the recording and noted the different words he used. Then she called the specialists to get some response.
A newly retired detective named Leslie Albright watched Valdez’s news story. She worked as a detective in the San Diego Police Department for 25 years, and her specialization was underground crime rings. There was something about this specific case that caught her eye, and she immediately realized that the woman in question was more than just a homeless person.
Under the Exterior
The woman who made a lot of people upset for what she did was about to be identified. However, the story wasn’t all over there. This case showed an increasing problem in the field. Behind the glamorous and sparkling exterior of California, there was an insidious nature that was getting bigger and bigger. Despite the dangers, one Redditor had chosen to reveal everything.
Leslie had seen a lot of illegal activity in her time as an officer, and when she heard the man talk, she had the feeling that something was indeed wrong. As she listened to the audio from Valdez and her team, she understood the language the man used. She knew that the modus operandi of the beggar exactly matched that of the ones she had seen before. We could not help but wonder what it was.
Albright said that the couple was linked to the California crime ring. They came to the country secretly, conducting criminal acts every day. They lived in luxury apartment blocks, and they had a lot of cars at their control to effectively pull their schemes on innocent bystanders. The two, the woman and the father, might not be a real couple. And “pregnancy” could only have been a trick to tug the emotions of those who walked by. What were the crimes in which they were involved? This case undoubtedly had more secrets that required to be revealed.
Regrettably, this particular criminal group has not been in one place for an extended period. It makes it incredibly difficult for the authorities to work to track them down. If they feel like somebody has caught up with their plan, they move immediately to their next venue. It is the case for the two perpetrators. Yet someone who met them was giving details about them and putting his life at risk in the process.
A man who saw footage of the homeless person stepped up and gave Reddit all the details he knew about the perpetrators. 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 learned about the adverse history of the lady and how she had to start working for the organization at an early age. After revealing the information, he deleted his Reddit account for the terror that the underground criminal group would find out who he was.
The Bottom Rung
Further examination found that the lady in the video and photos also claimed to be pregnant to trigger sympathy on the victims. It helped her earn more than $500 a day. The harsh fact is that there might be more women like her all over the world. The internal processes and activities of the criminal organization are very complex, with some men guiding the entire organization from the top. They promise women that they will have food and accommodation so that they can be deployed to different parts of the world. Their manipulative methods of begging are likely to keep them in luxurious homes and sustain comfortable lifestyles. But this isn’t what there is to it.
Albright said in an interview, “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.” These kids will grow up experiencing only the criminal lifestyle and scamming people. The Redditor, who revealed this entire organization, also wrote, “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.”
The unnamed Reddit source said, “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.” After all, we have no clue what other modus this Californian criminal group has in mind.