Two days ago, I reported how I believed the picture (above) of an NYPD cop buying a homeless man shoes, that went viral, to be a publicity stunt. (Was The Photo of an NYPD Officer Helping A Homeless Man A Publicity Stunt?) I also noted how there were rumors that the homeless man in the picture, is a well known con artist in that area. Today, the rumors of the homeless man were confirmed.
The New York Daily News is now reporting,
"sources unmasked the homeless man as 54-year-old Jeffery Hillman, a petty criminal who has been arrested nearly a dozen times since 1983. Most of his 11 collars are for drug possession, but others include criminal mischief and public lewdness.
A police source said Hillman is often seen strolling barefoot in the area and suspect it’s part of a scam to squeeze donations from tourists. Hillman, who last lived in a Harlem YMCA in April, could not be reached Friday for comment."
On Friday, I reported on the man:
How about the homeless man? What is his story. Well one website is claiming that this "bum" is a well known con man in that area, and claims "The guy sits around, as homeless people tend to do, only he's shoeless. All day long, unassuming good Samaritans and tourists buy him socks and fresh kicks. Then, after the do-gooder walks away—feeling like Johnny Philanthropist—the homeless dude takes the socks and shoes back off, stuffs them in his bag that's BRIMMING with other shoes, and begs for more. He then go on to tell me that this goes on EVERY DAY." The website even posts a picture of a man with no shoes, who they claim is probably the same guy, shortly after this whole incident.
Now we just have to sit back and wait for the rest of the story to be a confirmed hoax, because while The New York Daily News still reports the police officers act of kindness to be authentic, I believe otherwise.
(UPDATE: The New York Times found this man, still shoe-less, and he now says he wants "a piece of the pie" because the photo was posted online "without permission." Also, The New York Daily News now finds that the homeless man is actually not homeless at all. For the past year, Jeffrey Hillman has had an apartment in the Bronx paid for through a combination of federal section eight rent vouchers and Social Security disability and veterans benefits)