Thursday, April 26, 2007

Never lend money to people on the street

There are some well-dressed people who will approach you and ask to lend money from you. They are from mainland China and often speak only Mandarin (Putonghua). Don't lend them money as they will not pay you back.

The first time I encountered them was in late October. A lady came up to me at night apologizing to bother me. She said that she has lost her wallet and needed money to stay overnight.

She explains that she is not begging for money, just borrowing it. She promises to pay me back the next day, when her business partner arrives. She will definitely treat me for lunch for my great help.

I scribbled my contact information down and handed her all the notes in my bag, which is somewhere around MOP$360. The result is that I lost all my money.

The second time I encountered them was the day before yesterday. A man came up to me asking to befriend me.

This time he told me that he had lost all the money gambling in the casino and needed money for food. He is persistent saying that he is very hungry and has 2 companions in a similar situation. Their credit card bounced, he explained.

Again, he explains that he is not begging for money, just borrowing it. He will return the money the next day when his friend comes by to rescue him. As he speaks, one of his companions came and shake my hand.

He gave me his name card, which contains a Zhuhai number. I left my mobile number with him. I thought that I could give him the benefit of the doubt, but this time I only offer MOP$30. I have little money left myself and am not keen to give much away.

He tried asking for me but I told him that he can just eat lesser and share with his companions. He said OK, and then turned away. He never called. I later called his number only to find that his mobile phone was switched off.

On hindsight, if I wanted to help, I should have brought these people to a restaurant or give them bread or food vouchers.

These people have no qualms about cheating others, and may just use the money to gamble and lose at the casinos. Lying may be their professional occupation, and they have long silenced their guilty conscience.

I am not going to help them again. If they are really desperate, perhaps a cheap loaf of bread is what they will get. If they get persistent, I will threaten to call the police.

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