A YouTube star is standing by a viral video he made showing a homeless man giving away $100, despite claims the selfless act was staged.
Days before Christmas, Josh Lin released a video that he called a "social experiment" in an interview with NBC4 -- giving a homeless man $100 and secretly seeing if he would spend it on drugs or alcohol. Thomas Nickel, the man to whom Lin gave the cash, spent it on groceries and gave them to friends at a park.
Viewers touched by the act have donated more than $130,000 to Nickel through a crowdfunding page set up by Lin.
But two people argue that the video, viewed nearly 30 million times, was a hoax, a claim that's gone viral itself -- that Nickel knew he was being filmed when he gave the food away.
Top news of the day
Taugan Kadalim says he was at the liquor store and saw Lin and Nickel arrive together.
He saw the pair in a car together, he told NBC4.
And Nickel's estranged brother, Kevin Nickel, says the video must be fake because his brother wouldn't act that way, an that Nickel has a $150,000 inheritance.
"It's just not his MO," Kevin Nickel said.
Lin and Thomas Nickel stood behind the video in an interview with NBC4 on Friday, saying it's completely geniune and that they had never met.
Both say they understand that people put their faith in them, and that they haven't betrayed that trust.
"For me it's just haters," Lin said, while Thomas Nickel called the criticism a "smear campaign -- that we won't accept."
"It's malicious people that are attacking us and our integrity," Thomas Nickel said. "That we won't accept."
Nickel does have an inheritance in the form of a condominium his mother left to him and his brother, he said, but that it hasn't been settled and he has barely any money now.
If it's liquidated, much of the inheritance will go to paying bills, while the donated money will go to helping the homeless, he said.