Only On 2: Panhandlers Caught Driving Rental Car, Traveling Around Town To Solicit Cash

SANTA CLARITA ( — From the San Fernando Valley to the Santa Clarita Valley, CBS2’s David Goldstein’s undercover cameras captured similar looking groups of panhandlers with children.

Some were holding kids small enough to even be breastfeeding, and all were holding signs claiming to be down and out.

But are they as needy as they seem?

Goldstein watched them outside shopping areas all over town, with similar signs reading “Please help,”, “Lost my job,” “I have 3 kids” and the like.

Residents believe they’re all working together, and they’re fed up.

“It’s a well-organized group, no question about it,” said one local.

Over a series of weeks during the summer, Goldstein’s undercover cameras followed the panhandlers sometimes trying to get people’s attention but mostly getting their sympathy and their money.

Goldstein soon saw a pattern develop, such as one family finishing their panhandling and then getting into a late-model SUV. A young girl with them made sure they didn’t leave their sign behind.

Or another group that panhandled outside the Fallbrook Center, only to later drive to another mall a few miles away.

One of CBS2’s undercover producers approached a woman and daughter who admitted she’s a regular panhandler who’s homeless and looking for cleaning work.

“I’m here three days in the week,” she said.

The woman told Goldstein’s crew she didn’t have a phone to get in touch with her, nor did she own any transportation but relies on the bus to get around.

But a few minutes later, that same woman was spotted walking with a man and got into a car with him, not a bus.

She ended up outside a Ralphs supermarket around the corner, sign in hand, when Goldstein approached her.

“We’ve seen these signs all over town. Are you guys part of some organized ring?” he asked.

“No, no, no” she replied.

“Are you really homeless? Are you really out of work?”

“Yes, I’m homeless,” she said before she hustled away from the scene.

Another panhandling couple – a mother and son – were spotted outside a Walmart, only to get into a car that came back registered to Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

“Is that right, really, to be out there asking for money? And you’re driving a rental car? I mean, you’re driving a 2016 new car and you’re out asking for money,” said Goldstein.

LAPD detective Gil Escontrias, who used to work the Bunco Forgery Division, looked at the undercover photos.

“It’s almost to the point of being called a ‘disorganized organization’, if you will, where they probably sometimes, like any type of organized theft group, will coordinate with each other as to who’s going to take what position and what spot,” said Escontrias.

He says it appears they’re one of a number of groups who travel around the country preying on the heartstrings of people to make money, and he has doubts about their unemployment status.

“For many people, this is their job,” Escontrias said. “They wake up in the morning, this is what they’re going to do, and they have a goal, a certain amount of money to continue with their lifestyle.”

“But in many instances, you found they’re not necessarily out of work,” Goldstein added.

“No, because this is their work,” replied Escontrias. “This is their work.”

Police say the panhandlers aren’t breaking any laws. It’s not illegal to ask people for money. But they say if you’re in the spirit of giving, it might be best to give to a legitimate charity.


One Comment

  1. Louis Latour says:

    This isn’t new. In shopping centers where I am they have been driving around kids to sell phony fundraising candy for years..they even have neck bands, etc. but when questioned the charade falls apart

  2. Gypsies… well known tactics in Europe and elsewhere.

    1. Jerry Snaper says:

      About 30 years ago I lived in Wiesbaden, Germany. I made a gift to a gypsy lady with her baby. So sad. A short time later around the block I saw the same gypsy being picked up by her (boyfriend) in a brand new Mercedes. Nothing much new under the sun.

    2. Yep. Gypsies. I’ve seen them in suburban Jacksonville, FL pulling this junk. Panhandling with 2-3 kids in 40 cold and 100 degree heat. The police have arrested them for child endangerment here.


    1. Robert Jones says:

      Deport? I live in the most illegal alien infested city I have ever been, Santa Maria, and I have never witnessed an illegal panhandling here. They are actually willing to work.

  4. Ra Williams says:

    I’m pretty sure the beggars in Tampa are organized also.

  5. Is there any truth to the rumor three of them are contenders to be the new chair of the Democratic National Committee?

  6. Lou Diamond says:

    bus them to the Hollywood Hills

  7. never give money to someone who is able to work but refuses to. it is a lucrative business though. there is always a sucker out there that can be conned.

    1. Ain’t it the truth….. Fact is I see an astonishing number of working age men and women, with nothing wrong with them sitting outside of stores panhandling. It’s disgusting.

  8. Morey Ladini says:

    Off the DC beltway, there were young, (& oddly, very well scrubbed), women who were IDENTICALLY DRESSED (even the hairstyles!) holding cardboard signs on successive corners.

    Must have been a cult group.

    1. Greedy, lazy democRats? Sounds like their cult’s M.O. – con money from other people.

  9. The Democrat Communist lifestyle.

  10. Roger Smith says:

    IF they vote (and I’m willing to bet they do) it’s also a safe bet it’s not for Republicans.

  11. dustoff44 says:

    Ship them to all of the blue states.

  12. Gal Murphy says:

    Fleecing the public under false pretense. No shame, few values? If they can stand that many hours, rent and drive a car they are smart enough and well enough to get a job and contribute to society instead of ripping them off

  13. Bill Loyal says:

    How strange, its like every conspiracy theory lately has been proven true. We always suspected this was the kind of thing that happens, and sure enough it is.

  14. John Seymore says:

    goldstien…those joos have infiltrated every aspect of tv, especially sports

  15. Coming to a sanctuary city or county near you. In your travels gather information on available jobs and hand them that list instead of cash. It’s a safe bet though that it will become part of the trash pile these people typically leave behind.

    1. These are gypsies from Eastern Europe. They’ve got nothing to do with sanctuary city policies.

      1. Tom Koshi says:

        Actually, they have a lot to do with sanctuary policies. All of them are Romanian citizens who illegally entered the U.S. using Mexico as their entry point. They have been coming by the hundreds, if not thousands over the past several years. Many of them are arrested but are released due to AB4 and other policies that prevent local law enforcement agencies from complying with immigration authorities. While they are awaiting their immigration hearings, they engage in mass panhandling schemes, sign up for social services in different states, and other such activities.

  16. tribucks says:

    Offer them an opportunity to work for the money and watch what happens.

  17. Wonder how many voted for Hillary?

  18. Wonder who they voted for (illegally)…..DEPORT these leeches once and for all

  19. Yirmin Snipe says:

    This happens all the time, in the 90’s a local news station in Connecticut did a story on panhandlers and it turned out some of them were pulling in about 60,000 a year from begging… all of it was tax free cash. While there is no easy way to stop it a first step would be to remove the kids from the parents as if they are begging then clearly they wouldn’t be able to care for the kids. See how many of them would continue to use the kids as props then.

  20. Simple solution… save your money for a charity you trust. I see them in New Orleans. One panhandler has been pregnant, probably midway through her 3rd trimester, for what is going on 3 years right now.

  21. They said there was nothing illegal going on. Are they paying taxes? I doubt it.

    1. If it’s a gift less than something like $13,000 then they don’t have to pay taxes on it. You might say this is their job but I think it’s safe to say though they are kind of working if your tilt your head to one side and squint your eyes enough, this isn’t really work as the IRS considers it and they certainly aren’t working for the people who are giving them the money. I wish you could make a case stick for tax evasion but I just don’t see it, sadly.

      However, I wish the ones who run out into the middle of traffic and hold up a couple of lanes of cars when the light turns greens just to collect a dollar bill someone waved out a car window would get taken off the street for at least jaywalking.

  22. Bubba Andies says:

    You see the same basic thing at the welfare office to especially in the South. They drive better newer cars, $300.00 sneakers, top choice steaks at stores and restaurants. Offer to take one of these people to feed them and 9 out a 10 they say would rather have the money.
    If you REALLY want to help some one in real need just check around in your neighborhood, I’m sure there is someone in real need.

  23. David Gouge says:

    If you build it, they will come.

  24. David Foster says:

    They hurt the people who really need help, but in the long run, it’s better to never give money to panhandlers, give it to the local soup kitchen, etc instead if you must.

  25. Kerwin Hieb says:

    If you want to see panhandlers get aggressive, go to San Fransicko! They’ll follow you for blocks and won’t stop until you give them some folding money, NOT change…

  26. Tom Willard says:

    “Police say the panhandlers aren’t breaking any laws.”

    The IRS might think differently. I doubt they are paying taxes on their income.

  27. They’re a unique sept of interracial “gypsies”

  28. I can confirm this happens in Dallas also. Gypsies will come in a group and have their heart throb of a story all play acted out. You say, “no” and they just stroll right past you to the next person, working the whole parking lot. You have to watch out that they don’t try and jump out in front of your car too while your are slowly pulling in and out of a parking spot. You bump into them and knock them down and they will threaten to sue if you don’t give them some money. I had a couple of women come up to me and I told them to go away because I just wasn’t in the mood. I started to back out of my spot and one of them darted around the back of my car and then just stopped and stood their. Fortunately, I have a rear view camera and saw her and jumped on the brake before I touched her. She was acting like she saw something across the parking lot and was standing their pointing at something. I had to stick my head out of the window and yell at her to get out of the way.

  29. John Mooney says:

    We noticed the very same thing in Orange County. Same deal, Mother and Child at a Target, Trader Joes, Ralphs, etc. and all of them had that EXACT SAME SIGN! Same font style everything identical.

  30. Bob Wright says:

    When I lived in Tucson over 20 years ago, this kind of thing came to be a big joke around town, and some people even posted flyers stating that you could become a “Will work for FOOD” franchisee, and that “good corners are available”… Then the local TV station there did an expose on the street-corner panhandlers and most of them disappeared… for a short while

  31. Gypsies. We have them here in Sunrise, FL as well. I spoke to some of them in Romanian. A couple of families in same spots every week or so.

  32. Drod Rod says:

    I noticed this 30 years ago when I worked in the Irvine, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa area…nothing new! It’s about the media exposes this, I mentioned it back then and they did nothing about it.

  33. Anyone who gives money to these people deserves to lose it. It’s a scam. Everything’s a scam. Life is a set-up to see if you learn to separate the wheat from the chaff. I say just stay out of everyone else’s way. It’s a free society…OK, well, kind of, anyway. Let people be as foolish as they want. It’s entertainment for the rest of us.

  34. Pat Geiger says:

    C’mon they are gypsies. They flood the Florida metro areas in winter pulling scams on the elderly.

  35. Samuel Green says:

    There will always be bands of gypsy type of scammers preying on peoples consciousness’s. As far as the homeless, that too is unfortunate and if you don’t like it, don’t give them money.

    Where I live, we have a city council that is so anti homeless, a few years back they removed the park benches so the homeless couldn’t sleep on them. Unfortunately, I live in a Florida city on the ocean that has a lot of tourists, and a lot of elderly.

    Removing the benches in our parks precluded being able to sit down and rest. It was moronic. When a couple publications listed my city as having the nicest beach in the world, but also was the 2nd meanest city in America, city leaders didn’t like the negative press & the benches were put back.

    The policy then shifted to lock them up and put them in jail for even the smallest infraction, this didn’t work and also was more or less abolished.

    Personally, I don’t give cash to panhandlers, if they have a dog, I go buy the puppy some dog food. Maybe even buy that homeless person a burger, But giving cash isn’t happening. I do donate to charities like the Fischer House, and I provide rides to cancer patients.

  36. Pat Geiger says:

    Don’t they know George Soros will pay them good money to demonstrate and protest the new President. Rebels without a cause.
    Soros’ affiliated organization released the following press release yesterday afternoon:
    Americans to Come Together in Hundreds Peaceful Gatherings of Solidarity, Resistance, and Resolve Following Election Results
    Hundreds of Americans, dozens of organizations to gather peacefully outside the White House and in cities and towns nationwide to take a continued stand against misogyny, racism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia.
    Tonight, thousands of Americans will come together at hundreds of peaceful gatherings in cities and towns across the nation, including outside the White House, following the results of Tuesday’s presidential election.
    The gatherings – organized by and allies – will affirm a continued rejection of Donald Trump’s bigotry, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and misogyny and demonstrate our resolve to fight together for the America we still believe is possible.
    Within two hours of the call-to-action, MoveOn members had created more than 200 gatherings nationwide, with the number continuing to grow on Wednesday afternoon.


  37. They probably also made money before the election was over by being driven around and voting for Hillary.

  38. Jeff Montana says:

    Ah, but our white charity is drying up, black and brown parasites.

  39. Dan Meyers says:

    Easy solution. Not 100% foolproof but very effective: Tell the panhandler that is looking for work that you have some work. If they agree to the job, then buy them a sandwich. If they give an excuse, walk away. Never, ever give money as the money will almost definitely be used on drugs, booze and cigarettes.

  40. Steve Riley says:

    Go to San Francisco, the Mecca for young, healthy people begging for a handout.

  41. Tony Johnson says:

    Notice all but one was Mexican. Trump will clean up this mess!

  42. A man who runs a Seattle homeless shelter said on the radio not to give them any money who are on the street. Up to 70% of them are addicts on drugs or alcohol and of course some have mental illness. But there are shelters they need to get to as you are most likely just feeding their addiction.

  43. I’d say let them do it. It’s work and there not sitting home drawing a government check. They have to actually get out of there house house and panhandle. It takes work to panhandle right?

  44. Steve Harunk says:

    there is a fair that come to a neighboring town for a couple months each year – during the week, they work the fair, on weekdays some panhandle – they look at me as if they are upset I am not handing them money…

  45. Ronald Glenn says:

    I’m guessing dogs no longer work? Who’s dumb enough to fall for this nonsense any longer? Donate to your local churches, not to bums, alcoholics, or SCAM ARTIST.

  46. The solution to this problem is very simple, DO NOT GIVE PANHANDLERS MONEY…PERIOD!

  47. Jo Gregg says:

    There are so many legitimate charities, the Salvation Army is among my favorites. Give to them.

  48. I see them in Glendale and Burbank all the time. It makes me angry to see how people are so easily fooled into giving them money. They appear to be foreign “gypsies.” Maybe U.S. Immigration should check into their legal status to be in this country. Next up, they’re at the social security office collecting disability benefits.

  49. It’s not illegal – but you would have to report it as income. I suspect none of these people are filing taxes; and THAT is a crime. They probably clear more than me (and most people) because we’re out here working and paying uncle sam.

  50. Brian Punter says:

    Build a wall, deport criminal illegal immigrants, no welfare for illegals, fines for companies that hire them!

  51. Hell they have been doing this for YEARS!

  52. They were in the Fort Lauderdale area!!! They would hang out around stores like Walmart to Publix! She had like 3 or 4 kids….sitting on the corner holding her sign! WOW…do they get around!

  53. Mark Millsap says:

    Damn gypsies should be force marched to the nearest birkenau.. How dare they ride in cars! They definitely don’t meet my conditional charity standards!

  54. In our town, the local news station did an undercover and followed a few of them. One guy, that was the most popular, if you will, parked his Mercedes a few blocks over from where he’d panhandle, and lived in an area that had million dollar homes.

    Becomes more profitable to just park your but and ask for money.

  55. James Curry says:

    Liberals down on their buttz.

  56. Roger Bacon says:

    If this is an organized ring then they are breaking laws. Conspiracy to commit fraud at the least. Arrest some of the professional beggars and they will roll on the ringleaders. Then put those people in prison and the problem will disappear.

  57. Back in the day we used to call these people gypsies.

  58. iambicpentamaster says:

    Relax, it’s just another Bill and Hillary Clinton sighting.

  59. Ted Duke says:

    I NEVER give cash to panhandlers. If you have an inclination to help, invite them to meet you at the nearest fast food establishment and buy them a meal. IF THEY are hungry they will accept and meet you there. IN TOO MANY cases they will be incensed because they are scammers.

  60. Bunk Strutts says:

    While I was filling my tank at the service station, a guy came up to me with a 5 gallon container, asked for some money to fill it as he ran out of gas a block away. I filled up his container and he walked away. As I was waiting for an opening in the traffic to leave the station, I saw him pouring the gasoline into the planter.

    I’ve seen crews working a large parking lot pulling the same scam, even though there was a gas station across the street.

  61. Sukie Tawdry says:

    Gypsies, tramps and thieves.

  62. I’ve lived in the same place for 55 years, and I’ve seen them pull this before. I’ve had them try to run the driveway scam and the roofing scam on me, and one time the gas station scam. They come around every couple of years or so.

    “We just finished paving a driveway around the block and we have hottop left over, we’ll repave your drive way for half price” or “We just finished a roofing job around the block and we have shingles left over…”

    But my favorite was the good looking girl at the gas station, who forgot her wallet. Tight jeans and plenty of cleavage and big crocodile tears: “I need to pick my daughter up from school and I forgot my wallet,and my car is out of gas, please can I borrow 5 dollars! Please!”
    Me: “You just told the guy over there you were late for work and didn’t want to lose your job because you’re a single mother with 2 babies to support. Nice try, though.”
    Nothing. Didn’t even blink. She walked over to a woman at another island and started her speil all over again. I went in to the convienience store and told the manager, but I left and don’t know if he did anything about it.

  63. Cur Mudgeon says:

    And of course they pay taxes.

  64. A decade or so ago, our city was invaded by intersection panhandlers. It was discovered that they was a group that raised money for exchange with their drug dealers. Do yourself a favor – ensure your money (and charity) is well placed – give to a local church or city kitchen and invite these people to avail.

Comments are closed.

More From CBS Los Angeles
Plan Your Trip
Follow Us On Twitter

Watch & Listen LIVE