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Panhandlers making money on a scam, Tuscaloosa city leaders say

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People living in Tuscaloosa told ABC 33/40 panhandlers are showing up on almost every corner. City leaders believe some of the people doing this are running a scam.

Business owner Chancee Terry said the panhandlers approach her customers.

"It becomes a problem as in [customers wonder], 'Is this going to be every time I come in here? Should I find another place to get work done?'"

Terry said the same three to five people make the round in the Meadowbrook shopping center.

"We had one that was arrested just the other day, we saw him a week later. And then we saw him at Jason's Deli two days ago," Terry said, "It's really hard to turn someone away, but then you also have to watch out for your own safety."

City leaders were not sure if the homeless population is growing, or if more people are panhandling for a living.

"People do have needs, but I think this is more of a scam because it's consistent," District Seven Councilwoman Sonya McKinstry siad.

Loitering for the purpose of begging is illegal in the state of Alabama.

McKinstry said the problem has lasted far too long, but she does want to help the homeless.

"We don't want to downplay it. There are agencies that will help individuals that are in a hardship."

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But McKinstry said scammers would continue to take advantage until people start reporting it. She asked people who see panhandlers to call the Tuscaloosa Police Department.

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