Scammer claiming disability arrives in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A self-proclaimed scammer who claims to have a mental disability is roaming the streets as a panhandler in the Queen City.

Last year, WLEX in Lexington spoke to Gary Thompson - who aside from difficulty walking from a past motorcycle accident, says he's not mentally challenged.

He told them that he rakes in between $60,000 and $100,000 a year making people feel sorry for him.

FOX19 spoke to Thompson on Tuesday and he says he's been in Cincinnati for about a week.

Our cameras caught Thompson in the act on Sunday at the Bockfest Beer Festival. He was up to his old tricks.

"I do have mental disorders, they just come at me at certain times more than others," said Gary Thompson.

But then, Thompson backtracked during the interview and says he's in control of his mental state.

"Whenever I ask you for money I won't act mental or won't be mental at all, just 'please help me and help my friends we have nothing,'" said Thompson.

But it hasn't always been that way. Thompson used to be a millionaire. WLEX first reported that his mother sued Honda in 1993 after he was injured in a motorcycle accident. He got nearly $2.5 million as a result.

On Tuesday, he was more hush about the games he plays since he's lost that money.

"It's unfortunate that it's hard to believe stories like that. It is especially tough hearing it over and over again. It kind of sounds sketchy just jumping from city to city. Maybe I should drop out of school and do that," said Millie Ferguson.

Thompson faced a Franklin County judge for his previous antics. If Thompson doesn't move on to a different city, he could find himself in another courtroom here in Cincinnati.

FOX19 spoke with the Strategies to End Homelessness about the story. The director says he had no idea Thompson was staying at the Drop-In-Center. He says it's upsetting for the stereotype that's given to homeless people. He says they don't choose to be homeless and certainly don't choose to panhandle.

Cincinnati city ordinance says that it's against the law for anyone to solicit and lie about suffering from a mental disorder. Whoever violates the panhandling ordinance is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.

Editor's note (March 12, 2014);  A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the name of Strategies to End Homelessness as Coalition to End Homelessness.

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