Partying German panhandler pops up in Taiwan

Banned for his con acts in Thailand, a notorious German panhandler appears in Taiwan

Benjamin Holst being questioned by Police. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taipei News) -- A German panhandler who has a penchant for partying and has been blacklisted from a number of Asian countries for using his physical condition to dupe good Samaritans out of large sums of money, drew the attention of police in Taiwan's southern resort town of Kenting. 

The German man, Benjamin Holst, often referred to as "the party beggar with the big foot," has built a reputation across Southeast Asia for using his condition, a rare type of localized gigantism called Macrodystrophia lipomatosa, to trick unsuspecting passersby of large amounts of money to fund his party and prostitute habit. 

He preys on the sympathies of strangers who take pity on him for his abnormally swollen legs, which though unsightly, are actually not as painful or debilitating as they may seem. In a notorious case in 2014 in Thailand, he convinced locals to raise US$1,432 for him to buy a plane ticket home, provide free housing, and even set up a crowdfunding site. 


Holst visiting Seoul, South Korea's "Hooker Hill." (Image from Benjamin Holst Facebook page)

However, he was soon sighted in Pattaya partying and quickly burning through all the money that had been donated. He was eventually deported from Thailand and banned from returning to the country. He has repeated this pattern of begging and partying in many other countries in the region including, Singapore, the Philippines, and Indonesia. 

Apparently on his first trip to Taiwan, he first arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Sept. 18, and then checked into a hotel in Taipei's Wanhua District, part of which contains the city's red district. He then went to Snake Alley, one of the district's seedier areas. He then headed up to Keelung and visited the night market there.

He did not draw attention from authorities until he arrived in Kenting on Sept. 22 where he was spotted and questioned by police. Hengchun police then continued to monitor him to make sure that he did not engage in illegal activities such as begging or prostitution.

However, authorities say that there were no reports of illegal activities on his part during his brief stay in Taiwan, reported CNA. According to his own Facebook page, Holst left Taiwan at 7 a.m. this morning, saying simply "Time for boarding Good bye Taiwan see you."


Holst in Taipei's Zhongzheng District. (Image from Benjamin Holst Facebook page)