IMPACT
02/28/2013 01:36 pm ET Updated Mar 04, 2013

Gary Thompson, Kentucky Beggar Who Fakes Having A Disability, Earns $100,000 A Year

A Kentucky man makes a six-figure salary by pretending to be handicapped.

Gary Thompson spends his days panhandling in a wheelchair on the streets of Lexington and faking his mental and physical disabilities, LEX18 reported. After he was confronted by a group of reporters recently, the bogus beggar, who does have some difficulty walking, dropped the slurred speech and admitted that he earns $60,000 to $100,000 a year pulling at the heartstrings of passersby.

"I appreciate you guys busting me," Thompson told LEX18. "Yeah, I'm really good at it, really good…I am normal, it just helps to be mentally handicapped."

Thomspon, who burned through millions he made in a lawsuit after getting into a motorcycle accident, brings up the age-old question of whether generous people should give to homeless people or those asking for money on the streets.

While giving money to someone in need is gratifying, it usually isn’t what a homeless or struggling person needs most.

In 1999, HUD polled homeless people about what they were most in need of and found that 42 percent said they need help finding a job, 38 percent said they need housing and 30 percent said they need help paying rent or utilities.

Though homeless people or panhandlers such as Thompson may be aware of what they need most, many may also realize that they’re more likely to earn a buck if their situation seems particularly desperate, Derek Thompson wrote in the Atlantic back in 2011.

“We choose to donate money based on the level of perceived need,” he wrote. “Beggars known this, so there is an incentive on their part to exaggerate their need, by either lying about their circumstances or letting their appearance visibly deteriorate rather than seek help.”

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