A group of beggars in Zhengzhou, China, are enjoying a lavish lifestyle at five-star hotels as well as shopping at high-end branded shops, reported Nanyang Siang Pau.
In a photo collage titled A day's life of China's professional beggar, it shows a "family of beggars" starting their day by eating hamburgers for breakfast at a fast-food restaurant; beef and beer for lunch, watermelon and popsicles for tea and dinner at a fine dining restaurant in a five-star hotel.
After dinner, they visited a Cartier shop.
The pictures were taken by a photographer who had been following three senior beggars.
The beggars would pretend to be sick and lay on the ground while another would plead to passers-by for money.
They would also feed the "sick" beggar with cold beer, poured into a bottle labelled as medicine.
It was reported that they could earn between RMB$2,000 (S$412) and RMB$3,000 a day.
Beggars 'can earn $410 a day'
China Daily/Asia News Network
BEIJING - Dressed in rags and tatters, seriously ill, he was lying on the ground, watching his "sister" kowtowing and reaching out for alms from sympathetic passers-by.
Hours later, he became magically cured, got up and stretched his legs, then went to a restaurant for a big dinner.
This is a typical day for some beggars in Chinese cities, according to a report by CCTV.
The report released several photos shot by Cui Guanghua, a photographer, who had followed a group of beggars for a week in Zhengzhou, Central China's Henan province.
According to Cui, the group has about 10 members. Usually, they work in shifts and beg on streets, parks, subways and other public places until 11 pm and reward themselves with an expensive dinner.
After dinner, they put their money together and share the fruit of the day's labour.
"They can make about 2,000 yuan (S$410) a day," Mr Cui observed.
The next day, the beggars will exchange partners and stage a different yet still heart-breaking trick to take money from the public's pockets.
The members of this group are not alone in becoming better off by begging.
An old beggar was in the spotlight this week when a photo of him counting change in a post office was posted online.
The man had earned so much during the Mid-Autumn Festival that it took him three consecutive days to count the money he was remitting.
Staff at the post office said the beggar even offered a 100 yuan tip to those who would help him count the money.
Earlier reports revealed that beggars who have made a career out of begging can earn more than 10,000 yuan a month, carry real-estate certificates and even entry permits for Hong Kong and Macau.
"They have damaged trust in society," said Li Qiang, a professor in sociology at Qinghua University.
If the do-gooders are regularly cheated, they will not help those who actually need it.
But it can be really tricky to deal with the "professional beggars", Professor Li admitted. Many beggars who are physically capable of doing work do not want low-end jobs because they earn more from begging.