Drivers question legitimacy of daily panhandlers in East San Jose

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Viewers tell ABC7 News, the drive through East San Jose usually involves interaction with a group of women who have made a habit of begging people for money.

In a video posted to the "Proud to be from East San Jose" community Facebook page, several women are recorded as they walk between cars, begging for money at Capitol Expressway and Story Road.

"It's almost every day. It's a daily thing that's going on here lately," Noah Alomari told ABC7 News. "One of them in each corner. Scamming, basically, is what I would call it."

Alomari works nearby.

He said he once offered to record the women and post their story online to spread awareness for their cause. Alomari said he was shooed away.

"She was like, 'No, no don't. Stop recording me.' She was yelling, running away," Alomari said. "So I thought, she wasn't there for help. She was just there to make money and walk away."

ABC7 News came across a few women doing much of the same, on Story and King roads in East San Jose.

The women were asking drivers to donate to a girl named Adriana. According to their posters, Adriana is in need of treatment for Leukemia.

ABC7 News approached one woman, asking for some background on Adriana.

When the woman pointed to a language barrier, ABC7 News photojournalist, Tony Cervantes, offered to help translate.

However, the woman took no time to wave the crew away, with her collection bucket and poster in hand.

The woman continued across the street, before she disappeared into a nearby parking lot.

Nearby business owners say they've come to expect the panhandlers daily, though they claim each day comes with a new story and new disguise.

"They come with a scarf and they pretend they're Muslims. I'm a Muslim," nearby business owner, Gonas Ali said.

Ali says the disgust and disappointment doesn't stop there.

"When she came in with a scarf, I asked her, 'Hey, where are you from?'" Ali said. "She said, 'Oh, I'm from Yemen.' Ok, sweet, I'm from Yemen," he told the woman.

He said the woman refused to answer questions, and took off.

Beyond that, Ali said, "A lot of people over here, like especially Story Road, they work really, really hard for their money. When people pass by, they like to help, but I just don't think it's fair when you take money for lies."

Ali says it's impossible to get answers from the group of panhandlers, and it's a real problem as they continue to take advantage of the people in East San Jose.

"You can drive up with your car, look at their papers," Ali explained. "Three people, same family, different stories."

ABC7 News reached out to the San Jose Police Department. A spokesperson says the department has not been made aware of the women, and have not taken any complaints on the issue.
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