Panhandler accused of scamming wants to set record straight

KATY, Texas (KTRK) -- A social media post critical of a man panhandling in the Katy area has been shared thousands of times.

The post ignited a frenzy of skeptics online who called the man a "fraud" and a "scammer" because for months he's been asking for donations near Highway 99 and I-10.

But the man at the center of the post says the scrutiny is wholly unfair.

"Stupid people and assumptions," said Brandon Wilcox. He's the man seen in a video getting out of an SUV on a day when he was seen later at an intersection nearby asking for donations.

"People see the worst in people most of the time," said Wilcox.

He insisted he is homeless and told Eyewitness News he moved to Texas from Wisconsin in February. Wilcox said he sleeps in his 16-year-old SUV that he had to save for a year to purchase.

Wilcox has struggled with his health and his weight, both of which he said have been an impediment to him getting a full-time job.

"When you're damn near 500 pounds, no one takes you seriously," he said.

Wilcox's story was corroborated independently by a security guard at the shopping center parking lot where he's been sleeping at a homeless ministry group in the Katy area.

Tina Hatcher is the director of Hope Impacts, a group in the Katy area that states its mission is to "provide hope to homeless, helpless and under-resourced people." She said the organization has been assisting Wilcox for some time, even helping him get new glasses when his were broken.

"He's not a scam artist," she said.

"I don't have a house. I don't know where y'all get off saying I got a house in Cinco Ranch, or where the [expletive] they say it was. That's funny as hell," Wilcox said.

He insisted he uses a wheelchair because it's the only chair he owns and that it's left over from an infection in his foot. He said he couldn't panhandle for eight or more hours a day without it, and he doesn't think using it is misleading as he often stands while panhandling.

"It doesn't help! You know what I mean?" said Wilcox, a man down on his luck and frustrated by strangers who jump to conclusions.

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