A group of homeless men say they were bribed by a veterans’ advocate to pose as homeless veterans who were displaced from a hotel by migrants. The advocate lied to an assembly man and the media about the situation. The hoax was exposed by an investigation by Mid Hudson News.Embed from Getty Images
The seven men – who have not been named – were part of a group of 15 that was recruited from a Poughkeepsie homeless shelter to pose as traumatized veterans who allegedly been kicked out of Newburgh’s Crossroads Hotel, the Mid Hudson News reported Friday.
The lie was supposedly spearheaded by Sharon Toney-Finch, a decorated military veteran and director of the Yerik Israel Toney Foundation, who made headlines last week when she claimed she was forced to find the “vets” accommodations after they were asked to leave Crossroads to make room for migrant arrivals.
“Last night, I was crying,” she told the New York Post.
But her story quickly unraveled when Assemblyman Brian Maher asked for financial records proving that YIT funded the veterans’ new hotel stays. A graphics expert noticed that the receipt she showed was doctored. The hotel denied that veterans associated with the non-profit ever stayed there.Embed from Getty Images
“It’s a scam. It’s a hoax. It’s a fraud,” Maher said.
Maher also spoke with the 15 recruits, who told him that two people came to the shelter and said they had work for men ages 40-60. The group claims they were each promised $200 in addition to food and alcohol in exchange for attending a meeting with an elected official to talk about homelessness.
“We ate like kings,” one of the men told Mid Hudson News. “Sharon introduced herself and told us we could have whatever we wanted and she would pick up the tab.”
But none of them received their payment. In a picture shared by the publication, one of the men holds a sign demanding his money.
The Orange County DA said he was planning on launching an investigation into how YIT’s money was allocated.
“We just learned that about an hour ago,” he said. “We’re looking at where the money went…The big thing you’re gonna look at is, was money spent for the purpose it was raised and again, if she raised money for the needs of veterans, is the money actually going to the needs of veterans?”
- Homeless men bribed with $200 and booze in NY hotel veteran scam allegation; DA vows to investigate | New York Post | May 19, 2023
- Homeless men say they were recruited to pose as displaced vets | Times Union | May 20, 2023
- A viral story about homeless veterans getting kicked out of a New York hotel to make room for migrants was a hoax | Business Insider | May 19, 2023