Elderly man in Yishun begs for money to see doctor, ends up spending it on lottery tickets

PHOTO: Lianhe Zaobao reader

We all know that beggars shouldn't be choosers. Well, this "beggar" didn't realise that he probably shouldn't be gambling away donations either.

The modus operandi of one elderly swindler in Yishun was exposed when a Lianhe Zaobao reader tailed him after spotting him begging for money on Oct 31.

The reader, known only as Deng, 73, said the man, who appeared to be in his 80s, stood at the entrance of Northpoint City and told passersby that he "had no home, no one to care for him and no money to eat".

The man also claimed that he was sick and said he did not have money to visit a doctor.

"When he spoke, his voice would waver. He also had to lean against a pillar to stabilise himself. He looked very weak and pitiful," Deng told the Chinese daily.

But when one passerby offered to accompany the man to a doctor, he rejected her and asked the woman for cash instead.

In just 10 minutes, the man received donations from seven or eight good Samaritans, who each gave him two to five dollars.

Unaware that Deng had been observing him, the man then dropped the act and made his way to a nearby bus stop, all traces of his sickly demeanour gone.

Getting suspicious of the man, Deng tailed him all the way to a Singapore Pools outlet.

To his indignation, the man pulled out the donations that he had received and spent them on lottery tickets.

Deng then called the police and reported the incident.

The man was questioned by police officers who arrived on the scene shortly, said Deng.

When visited by reporters at a flat in Yishun, the man, who remains unnamed, denied that he had been begging.

He also said that he lives in Sembawang and only came to Yishun to visit his friends.

Under the Destitute Persons Act, any person found begging in a public place may be admitted into a welfare home if they are found to have no means of subsistence.

However, habitual beggars that cause annoyance in public multiple times may be fined up to $3,000 or jailed up to two years.