What if the next person you saw begging for money on the side of the road was part of an international money operation? That crime is exactly what police in Melbourne, Australia have accused Chinese tourists of participating in.
According to law enforcement’s theory, people were posing as tourists needing money for a return flight to China, when they intended to send the money back home. Just how much money?
Read on to find out, as the amount may surprise you. According to one report, about 33 people were charged with begging and possessing suspected proceeds in May 2019.
The Bogus Beggars Crime Syndicate
When a woman begging for money seemed overly concerned about being filmed and avoided the camera, the video was posted on Reddit and raised suspicions, especially when she had the same bag as another homeless person. A theory began to arise that there was a syndicated scheme happening on the streets of Melbourne amongst Chinese tourists.
Not only is begging for money illegal in the area, but police also believed that those who were caught were not actually “vulnerable” people.
Acting Inspector Giovanni Travaglini told reporters the following:
We seized an amount of money and also located foreign exchange receipts which indicated that a lot of the money that the good people of Melbourne were giving is being exchanged for Chinese currency.
While police were unsure if one person arrested was genuinely related to the Chinese group, the Herald Sun had video of some of those detained crying, as police confiscated their passports and tourist visas.
Although all of those arrested were referred to the Salvation Army for assistance, only one person seemed to take advantage of the services. While many people who are homeless do need help, News.com.au reported that one Salvation Army poll has suggested that 9 out of 135 beggars are said to be “professionals.”
One of the gentlemen arrested told the police that he would beg six days a week and often earn $300-$400 at a time, which equals $1,800-$2,400 weekly! Meanwhile, homeless advocates are suspicious that anyone was pretending to be homeless. Like Ms. King, the Victorian Council of Social Services CEO, Emma King, told News.com.au, she hoped that the videos shared about the potential crime do not “stigmatize people experiencing homelessness”.
While giving to those in need is a positive action, and you should continue to help individuals and organizations you feel comfortable assisting, have you ever been tricked by a homeless person? What are some telltale signs that you were being conned by someone who was not a needy person?
While it would be impossible to know the detailed personal information for someone begging on the streets, photo search sites sometimes reveal that a beggar isn’t who they claim to be. At Social Catfish, you can search by name, phone number, username, photograph, and more. Whether at home or on the street, avoid being conned or tricked!