Source- The Australian
MELBOURNE: Seven Chinese nationals have been arrested on Friday (Jul 5) in Melbourne’s central business district on suspicion of being part of a professional begging syndicate. The suspects, aged between 65 and 72, entered Australia on tourist visas.
They claimed to be homeless but all had accommodation, Australian police told local media adding further, “(These) people have flown into the country just to make money off Melburnians’ goodwill. We’re a generous bunch but we’ve got a zero tolerance for that sort of behavior.” Acting Inspector John Travaglini told that the “professional beggars” were caught with receipts showing money collected had been converted into Chinese currency. Police seized cash amounting to about A$1,000 (USD$700), but said that the full extent of how much money was made is not known. Begging in the state of Victoria is a crime.
The arrests were made on Monday and Tuesday in a joint operation involving police and the Salvation Army. The suspects are expected to be charged on summons with begging and gathering alms and possessing property believed to be the proceeds of crime. Professional begging syndicates in Melbourne have made the news previously also.
Last month, a video circulated online showed several women begging at street corners in central Melbourne. They were seen hunched or lying on the ground as they asked for money. (Agencies)