A 79-year-old who spent most of her time begging at a train station in Hangzhou, China, was recently ousted as a relatively rich pensioner who lives in a 5-storey villa and owns several retail stores and rental properties in the city.
The woman’s story made national news headlines last week, after staff at Hangzhou’s East Railway Station started broadcasting an unusual message from loudspeakers warning passers-by not to fall for the granny’s story because she is not what she appears to be. In a surprising turn of events, even the woman’s son told reporters that their family is considerably wealthier than the average family in China. They live in a lavish villa, own several properties, some of which they rent to local business, and he himself manages a family factory. The man added that he told his mother to stop begging numerous times, but she refuses to listen.
“I told her that it’s fine if she doesn’t care about her reputation, but we do,” the son said. “I serve her delicious meals every day, but she just insists on going out to beg. In terms of money, she is a lot richer than most of the people here. She has savings in a few banks around here.”
The 79-year-old woman reportedly started off by selling maps at the railway station, but the management there disapproved of her little side hustle, so she started begging instead. She arrives there every morning at around 10 a.m. and doesn’t leave until 8 in the evening. According to some sources, she makes around 300 yuan per day.
In an attempt to discourage her from going out to beg, her son distributed photos of her on social media, telling people not to give her money if they see her. That didn’t work out that well though, and now railway staff are taking matters into their own hands by warning people about her via loudspeakers.
“An elderly woman in the station uses her age to win sympathy. Her family financial situation is quite good, so please don’t fall for it,” their announcement warns.
The woman’s story has sparked a heated debate online. While some people condemn her from deceiving poorer people to scam them out of money she doesn’t really need, other claimed that her behaviour must be motivated by loneliness and boredom, and blamed the son for not spending enough time with her. The man dismissed the accusation though, saying that his mother already lives with his family, but that’s it’s impossible for him to keep an eye on her all the time as he needs to work.
Shanghaiist reports that the woman claimed that she simply doesn’t want to sit at home all day and resorts to begging in order to make enough money to hire a caretaker for herself when she gets older. But what about all that money her son said she has in bank accounts?