People are urged not to give money to Benjamin Holst. He is a German beggar who exploits a grotesquely deformed foot to fund a party lifestyle.
Conman Benjamin Holst, aged 32, has for years been travelling throughout Southeast Asia. All paid for by kind-hearted people who assume he needs help with his disability.
In stark contrast to the sob story he gives out on the streets, his Facebook feed catalogues an life of constant travel, fine food and nightclubbing.
At the time of writing, he is in Vietnam, after catching a flight from Kualar Lumpur. He had arrived there after travelling down from Singapore by train.
His recent Facebook posts show him enjoying the nightlife, food and scenery of Bukit Bintang and Penang island.
“Time for cheaper girls and beach,” he wrote in one post anticipating his journey from Kuala Lumpur to Penang.
Holst suffers from a rare form of gigantism called macrodystrophia lipomatosa. This has caused his left leg to swell severely.
He has also been spotted exploiting this benign but painful-looking condition in the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong and Indonesia.
His Facebook page is filled with photos bragging about his exploits in these countries.
Benjamin Holst named
British university student Lauren Sula, 23, warned people in a backpackers’ Facebook group to keep away from Holst.
“He takes advantage of people all over Asia by begging for money. You may at first think this is to help fund his healthcare for his disability.
“However, he brags on his Facebook page about how he’s staying in expensive hotels, eating in nice restaurants and spending endless money on prostitutes.”
His scam first came to light in 2014, when he claimed his passport and cash were stolen during a trip to Thailand.
Locals, expats and tourists rallied round to help him raise money for a flight home. Holst used the cash to take a taxi to Pattaya. When he arrived, he blew it all on drink and prostitutes.
After Thai netizens spotted Holst’s Facebook posts, a campaign to deport him grew online, and the police did exactly that.
Later, in May 2015, he arrived in the Philippines, staying in upmarket hotels in Manila in Angeles City. He then moved on to Indonesia. Soon after police arrested him as he partied with girls using the money he got from panhandling.
Far from showing any shame about his activities, he seems to revel in what he calls “work”, regularly boasting of the glamorous side of his double life to his near 5,000 followers on Facebook.