65-year-old Mr Somporn Kueyen, a gambling addict, came clean with police and told them about his failed business ventures that led him to undertake this new role. He blamed his plight on the refusal by his daughter in the United States to send him on a loan for ฿15,000 to help him get by. He suggested that instead of seeking the sympathy of his daughter, he was forced to seek the sympathy of the public.
A former Thai businessman driving a luxury SUV and apparently down on his luck was interviewed on Wednesday and fined ฿1,000 for passing himself off to the public as a blind beggar after being exposed by a Facebook user on a video that went viral.
The 65-year-old man was interviewed by senior police officers at Bang Yai police station in Nonthaburi on Wednesday after presenting himself to authorities following an online furore in which he was exposed as beggar cheat.
On Tuesday, a Facebook user videotaped Mr Somporn Kueyen as he parked his expensive Toyota Fortuner SUV near a local temple and carefully psyched himself into the role of a blind beggar.
Later seen performing as a blind beggar near a local market wearing sunglasses and performing
The man, dressed in frayed clothing, then took out his amplifier and blind walking stick before he slowly made his way to the main street portraying himself a man tentatively trying to make his way forward with his walking stick stretched out in front of him.
He was later videoed performing for the public with dark glasses passing himself off as a blind beggar on the mean streets of a Bangkok suburban district.
Exposed by a Facebook user’s online video
The enterprising young woman, who blew the man’s cover and unmasked his dishonest charade, has been named as Ms Chutala Joy. Her video and explanation of the man’s activities caused an instant reaction online. Some expressed mere contempt at the man’s actions while others were more vitriolic.
It is being reported that Mr Somporn is married and a former businessman who lives in a two-storey townhouse in Nonthaburi.
His neighbours only know him as a business type who usually sets off in the afternoon driving his SUV and returns home in the early hours of the morning.
Police sought an interview with the man
The media coverage this week caused Thai police to probe the matter. The man was quickly identified and summoned for an interview.
On Wednesday, it is reported that when he pulled up at the police station and observed a large and aggressive media posse, he quickly withdrew and telephoned officers to come to his assistance. He was later collected by a police car and interviewed.
Contravened the Beggar Control Act
Police quickly established that the man had broken the Beggar Control Act of 1994 and 2017 by begging on the streets without a licence.
The 65-year-old told police that he was the man seen in the video.
He admitted that he had taken up the occupation recently and begged on the street 2 or 3 times. He explained that he had garnered an income of ฿100 to ฿200 per day which was enough, he felt, to raise a family.
Motivation was to embarrass his daughter
Mr Somporn told investigators that his initial motivation to undertake the exercise was driven by anger and his desire to embarrass his daughter who works in the United States.
He told police that she had refused to loan her father ฿15,000 when he found himself in a tight financial predicament.
He reasoned that without the sympathy of his daughter, he would appeal to the public.
Latest venture was to raise chickens in Nakhon Pathom – it failed, just like pig trading and shrimp
However, there are reports that the man also has a gambling problem and on Wednesday he told police that this was indeed true.
He admitted to officers that his financial situation was not good as he had failed in a number of business ventures including shrimp farming and dealing in pigs.
His most recent venture saw him return to his home province of Nakhon Pathom to raise chickens but that scheme also collapsed.
Discovered while begging that he enjoyed singing and entertaining the crowd on the street
Mr Sompong told police that after he had begun begging, he had quite enjoyed singing and entertaining the public and used this also to justify his behaviour in addition to his need to earn money.
He told police that his daughter in the United States did not send him money at all and that he was forced to rely on a government handout for the elderly of ฿600 per month.
Bang Yai police took a lenient view
Police officers at Bang Yai led by Police Colonel Surapoj Rodbamrung adopted a lenient view of the situation on this occasion. They fined the man ฿1,000 under the Beggar Control Act.
They also informed him that he could take up the begging profession but must first demonstrate a need to specified local authorities and social groups. They informed him that subject to a satisfactory report, a begging licence could then be issued by the Immigration Police.
Mr Somporn told police that, at the moment, he did not wish to apply for such a permit and promised not to be seen engaged in the activity again in this fashion.