Chinese beggars with facial and body disfigurations recently arrested in Bangkok were not working for a Thai boss and had previously solicited money in Malaysia and Singapore, according to the Immigration Bureau.
Pol Maj Gen Panthana Nutchanart, deputy commissioner, said on Monday that some of the six beggars knew each other. They denied they were trafficked by a gang, and told police they worked for themselves and used public transport while in Thailand.
He said they were aged 28-41 years and could earn more than 10,000 baht a day in tourist-crowded areas in Bangkok. They had Thai interpreters but there was no evidence Thais gained any other benefits from their activities.
The Immigration Bureau had learned some of them had also begged in Malaysia and Singapore.
They were arrested between Nov 11 and 20, and all had already been deported, he said.
The six, four women and two men, all said the scars on their faces and bodies were from burns incurred as children in China. Immigration security camera footage confirmed they were already disfigured when they arrived arrived in the country.
They usually begged at footbridges and near shopping centres - especially in the Asok, Lumpini and Silom areas. They exchanged their takings for yuan and deposited the money in their accounts, registered in China.
Some of them had begged in their homeland and decided to try their luck in Thailand after friends told them they could earned substantially more here.
Others said they had arrived for a tour but ran out of money. One said he begged while waiting for a new Chinese passport to replace the one he reported lost.
Pol Maj Gen Panthana said the bureau had recently also arrested seven Jordanian adults and 16 minors at hotels on Nana Road, after complaints they had been pestering tourists for money, accosting them while they were shopping or withdrawing cash from ATMs.
All of them had arrived as tourists. They were detained pending deportation.