A Vancouver man was shocked last week when a supposedly “homeless” man helped him pay his rent.
Yogi Omar, 30, told the Vancouver Sun that he saw a “scruffy panhandler” Thursday night and initially chose to ignore him, explaining that he has financial problems of his own.
But he still felt he had to do something.
"I wanted to give him food more than anything else, really," Omar, who co-founded InspirationALL Talent and Modelling Group Co., said.
Omar turned around, approached the supposedly homeless man and offered to buy him dinner.
That’s when things took an odd turn: Omar soon learned that the man was not homeless but was really an undercover benefactor looking to reward those who try to help the homeless.
"He said, 'I do this with my family every year,'" Omar told the Vancouver Sun. "They just want to see who cares about the homeless. I was like, 'Wow, that's crazy.'"
The wealthy benefactor reportedly waits on a street corner for three hours every year at Christmas time, his family sneaking him warm drinks, and rewards people who try to offer him comfort.
Omar ended up speaking with the mystery homeless man and mentioned that he had spent a large amount of cash on plane tickets to Guangzhou, China, so that he could visit his dying father.
The “homeless” man offered to pay for the tickets, an offer Omar couldn’t accept. So the “homeless” man asked Omar how much he pays for rent.
"I said $469," Omar said. "I was joking but that's what I pay. He just whipped out this fanny pack and gave me $469 in cash. I was like, 'Is this serious?' I was really stunned at that point."
The homeless man, who the Vancouver Sun describes as a white, 50-year-old man, refused to give Omar his name.
"He said, 'That's part of the deal, I have to remain anonymous. Just keep doing good things,'" Omar said. "I guess that's what karma is, you don't expect anything back."
Omar said he went home and posted the story to his Facebook, setting off a storm of messages and “likes” from family and friends.
"I was very, very stunned. I was thinking about this the whole time," said Omar. "I was like, 'I don't know what to say. What do I do?' I thought, I'm going to tell people ... it's weird but wonderful."
Omar admitted he almost walked by the homeless man because he was already strapped for cash. Luckily for him, however, his desire to help got the best of him.
"I just feel a lot of times people don't have the time or opportunity to be heard," he said, adding he's torn about wanting to know his benefactor's name. "I do and I don't. I want to thank him properly but I don't because that is what he wants ... Inspiration comes from anywhere."
“I hope people see this and just share the love with people around them,” he reiterated later in an interview with Metro News. “Be kind and share the love.”
Now Omar’s story, though heartwarming, calls for the same amount of skepticism we apply to all too-good-to-be-true stories.
Indeed, considering the recent rash of Internet hoaxes and the fact that he stands to benefit from publicity generated by his un-provable claim, it would behoove readers to approach Omar's story with an open – but skeptical – mind.
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This post has been updated.