"Hello, is this your mother?" Sam Wilson asks as he approaches a middle-aged Asian man in the UCI Town Center in Irvine at 2 o'clock in the morning, video camera in hand. The man is helping an elderly Asian women out of her wheelchair and into his Toyota Prius. Immediately upon hearing Wilson's question he spurts, "Is there an issue? Let me just get my camera." He leans into the car and grabs his camcorder. Wilson is already filming the encounter, and starts rattling off questions about the mysterious woman in the wheelchair who is quiet except for a few barely audible whines.
"Why are you exploiting her? This is elder abuse," Wilson says calmly. The man with the Prius immediately jumps from being defensive to being pretty damn angry and begins accusing Wilson of actually harassing the woman.
However, in a conversation with a security guard at the Center, Wilson discovered that the woman was not actually homeless. Every night, he learned, she was picked up by a man appearing to be her son, and that the same man would always drop her off again the next morning. Wilson decided to confront the man, and posted his footage from it on YouTube in early December. This week, the video reached 50,000 people in just 14 hours.
Wilson was not the first person to reveal Cathy's strange circumstance. In 2011, Thanh Truong Le, a UCI student, wrote a blog about his similar encounter with the Prius man. Le didn't have a video camera, but had a similar experience when he approached the man as he picked Cathy up late at night. Again, the man grabbed his video camera, except this time he went off about his father being poisoned due to some conspiracy, and said that he and Cathy were North Korean refugees.
As soon as Wilson's video began to spread though, people also started discussing Cathy on Reddit and sharing their stories. It's unclear at this point if the man is mentally unstable, a total jerk and taking advantage of his senile mother, or if they're both in on the con. In any case, if you know anything about this man please contact the Weekly at firstname.lastname@example.org.