An organized gang of imposters, begging and pretending to be homeless on the streets of Australia has been exposed. They had been making hundreds of dollars a day and wiring all the money back to China.
It can be reasonably assumed that a well-organized body is working in China to arrange passports and tourist visas for these impostors to travel to Australia, ‘do their job’ and send the money back to their homeland.
In an interview with Daily Mail Australia, Victoria Police confirmed that an operation was carried out in the central business district of Melbourne with the help of Melbourne city council, resulting in arrests of several ‘beggars.’
Seven people were charged with begging alms and possessing property suspected to be the earnings from the crime under Operation Aquirm launched by the cops.
The police captured cash worth $1,000 from the arrested people.
A spokesman for Victoria Police told Daily Mail Australia: ‘A portion of those arrested and charged by police were also in possession of money exchange receipts which showed that Australian dollars had recently been converted into Chinese Yuan.
‘All of those charged with begging offences were offered referrals to support agencies, which at this stage has been declined by nearly all alleged offenders.
‘Police are alleging that those who have been charged initially claimed to be experiencing homelessness, however upon further inquiries police discovered they had access to housing and chose to come into the city to beg for money.’
The spokesman further told the outlet that Victoria Police is working in collaboration with the Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force to further investigate the matter.
Some of the beggars even returned to the streets to ‘continue working’ after a preliminary investigation by the police, but were caught and interrogated again.
Victoria Police has requested people to refrain from donating money directly to the ‘homeless’ and has suggested donating to organizations working for homeless folks.
The spokesman said: ‘While the majority of people begging in Melbourne are vulnerable and in need, there are a small number of professional beggars who target the CBD from time to time.
‘Melburnians are renowned for caring for our most vulnerable residents, but in recent weeks we have seen people not only committing offences but also taking advantage of the goodwill in our city.
‘Our officers are proactively engaged in the community to identify new trends such as the professional begging we have seen in recent weeks.’
The crackdown came in the aftermath of a video captioned ‘Organized Asian syndicate of fake beggars on city corners’ posted on Reddit a week ago.
In the video, a woman was seen laying on her side and shaking her hands to beg for money but covered her face immediately with her hands upon seeing the camera.
She was then seen gathering her stuff from the area and shooing the person filming her.
At the other end of the street, another lady was seen going through the stuff in her bag while a sign beside her asked for people to donate cash.
The sign said ‘I can’t look after myself’ owing to her ‘heart disease and dirty hair.’
In the same vicinity, another ‘homeless’ was noticed near a coffee shop who covered her face and left the place to flee as soon as she’s caught in the frame of the video.
The user who posted the video said they’ve been noticing these people for more than 6 months now.
‘I know it is an organized group because I have seen them get together after ‘finishing up’ at night in front of the State Library to take the tram out of the city,’ said the Reddit user who posted the video.
‘I have seen five older Asian women who are the main panhandlers. This video shows three of them,’ the user added.
The beggars reside in the hostels in the inner city and hand the cash over to handlers, reported The Herald Sun.
Sergeant Chris O’Brien, of the Melbourne East police, told The Herald Sun: ‘They were crying poor after we took the money, saying “Oh, we need the money to get back to China, we need to fly home.”
‘It’s quite an investment involved in flying people out of China to do this. At what point have they made their money, and then what?’
According to a 2015 study carried out by the Salvation Army Melbourne Project 614, some professional ‘beggars’ even make as much as $400 every day.
Major Brendan Nottle of the Salvation Army told ABC: ‘We had one person indicate to us that he was raising in the vicinity of $300 to $400 a day or an evening and he was doing that on a regular basis.
‘That was about six days a week, and so he saw that as a very profitable way of earning income.’