An ‘organised syndicate of fake beggars’ from China has been exposed making hundreds of dollars each day by allegedly pretending to be homeless.
It comes after disturbing footage titled ‘Organised Asian syndicate of fake beggars on city corners’ was uploaded on social media last month and revealed by Daily Mail Australia and news.com.au.
It’s understood an alleged syndicate is arranging passports and tourist visas in China before ‘beggars’ fly in to work the streets and then send the cash they collect back to China electronically.
Victoria Police confirmed to Daily Mail Australia that several people were arrested in an operation conducted across Melbourne’s CBD this week in partnership with City of Melbourne Council.
Police are cracking down on alleged professional beggars from China in Melbourne’s CBD
Seven people were charged with beg alms and possession of property suspected of being the proceeds of crime as part of Operation Aquirm.
Police seized $1,000 in cash in the arrests.
‘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,’ a spokesman told Daily Mail Australia.
‘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.’
Victoria Police urge Melburnians to not to give money directly to beggars and instead donate to homelessness services organisations
The spokesman added that investigations are continuing and that police are liaising with the Australian Border Force and Australian Federal Police.
It’s understood some beggars returned to the streets after being interviewed and released by police, and were dealt with again.
Meanwhile, Victoria Police urge people not to give money directly to those who beg and instead donate to homelessness services organisations.
Disturbing footage titled ‘Organised Asian syndicate of fake beggars on city corners’ was uploaded on Reddit last week
‘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,’ the spokesman told Daily Mail Australia.
‘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 comes after a video titled ‘Organised Asian syndicate of fake beggars on city corners’ attracted hundreds of comments since it was uploaded to Reddit last week.
One woman seen laying on her side shaking her hands as she begs for money immediately puts her hand up to cover her face when she is captured on camera.
She then gathers her belongings and and shoos the person filming her away.
Victoria Police is also liaising with the Australian Border Force and Australian Federal Police as the investigation continues
At the top of the street, another woman is rummaging through her bags with a sign next to her and a bowl full of money.
The sign is asking for help because ‘I can’t look after myself’ due to her ‘heart disease and dirty hair’.
In the next laneway over, another beggar is seen near a Starbucks, and as the camera approaches, she covers her face and flees.
The user who uploaded the video said this has become a regular occurrence in the last six months.
‘I know it is an organised 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,’ they wrote.
‘I have seen five older Asian women who are the main panhandlers. This video shows three of them.’
‘Our officers are also proactively engaged in the community to identify new trends such as the professional begging we have seen in recent weeks,’a Victoria police spokesman told Daily Mail Australia
The police crackdown comes after a video titled ‘Organised Asian syndicate of fake beggars was uploaded to Reddit last week
Beggars being put up in inner-city hostels and pass the cash they collect onto ‘handlers’, The Herald Sun reported.
‘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”,’ Melbourne East Police Sergeant Chris O’Brien told the publication.
‘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?’
A study conducted in 2015 by Salvation Army support service Melbourne Project 614 found that there are some professional beggars who are making $300-$400 a day.
‘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,’ Major Brendan Nottle from the Salvation Army told ABC.
‘That was about six days a week, and so he saw that as a very profitable way of earning income.’
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