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Kentucky authorities warn against giving money to panhandlers

CORBIN, Ky (WYMT) - We have all seen people, apparently down on their luck, asking for money on the side of the road. You probably wonder whether it is a scam or not. In 20-year-old Ryan Hall's case, Laurel County Sheirff's Deputies tell WYMT it was.

Hall faces public intoxication charges in Laurel County for allegedly getting high Sunday night on cough syrup and marijuana. Deputies said he then tried to rip people off by asking for money along exit 29 off I-75 with a sign saying he was stranded and trying to feed his children. However, after further investigation, Sheriff's deputies determined Hall's story was a lie.

Laurel County Sheriff's Deputy Gilbert Acciardo said now they want to warn people to be careful when helping others.

"Citizens need to be really careful stopping to help someone like this because they could become the victim of a car jacking, the victim of a theft or a robbery. A lot of bad things can happen when you pull off and roll your window down," said Acciardo.

Law enforcement tell WYMT often times scam artists will use signs that get drivers emotionally attached and more likely to donate.

"You just never know, looks are definitely deceiving in these instances," said Acciardo.

Still, it is hard to hear that someone is doing without. So if you want to help, there are safer options out there. Helping Hands Food Pantry is based in Corbin and ran entirely by volunteers like Terry Hinkle. He said they are always looking for help stocking their shelves.

"They can just bring food by, drop it off, call us. We will meet them and come and get it. We will even go pick it up," said Hinkle.

Hinkle added that since their workforce is all volunteer, when you donate, you can rest easy knowing you are not being duped.

"We rely on them a whole lot, you know. It really helps us tremendously when people gives us extra to buy extra food with," said Hinkle.

Volunteers said Helping Hands serves almost 900 truly, needy families a month.

Acciardo said if you see someone asking for money along the road, call 911 so police can see if that person really needs help. If so, he tells WYMT they will get them some assistance.

If you would like to donate to the Helping Hands Food Pantry, you can call them at 606-528-2102.


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