”A Beggar has no choice” But this Story is the opposite
A ‘Super tramp’ has admitted he makes hundreds of pounds a week by begging on the streets of London’s upmarket Mayfair – even though he has a flat.
Brass-necked Damien Preston-Booth, 37, even uses a portable bank card reader to take payments and has recently been on holidays to Ibiza, Monaco and Paris.
The 37-year-old, who commutes to the capital from his £300-a-week flat in Preston, Lancashire, is said to have raked in £4,500 over the New Year alone.
A friend posted on his Facebook profile: “Everybody has to earn a living damo… Good luck to ya. There’s no judgment here pal.” Mr Preston-Booth ‘liked’ the message.
He has also been pictured accepting £20 from media mogul Simon Cowell.
He usually sleeps in the doorway of Lebanese restaurant called the Mamounia Lounge, but goes to a hotel in severe weather, it was reported.
Mr Preston-Booth even dressed as Santa Claus to schmooze charitable passers-by over the festive period and once faked a limp for sympathy, it was claimed.
He has at least two phones, an iPad and a camera, and is said to get £50 a time by targeting rich Arabs.
Emile, a manager at the Noura lounge and bar, said: “He’s been here for more than one year. He’s a clever man – he speaks to the tourists with a bit of French, Spanish or Arabic.
“When the Arabs come over in the summer he says hello to them in Arabic and gets some money. I’ve seen some of those guys give him £50 at a time.
“If he thinks they’re Spanish he’ll say ‘ola’, or if he thinks they’re French he’ll say ‘bonjour’. He must pick up the lingo on all of these holidays he’s been on.”
Preston-Booth aroused suspicions among local businesses after arriving in his car, a battered old Ford Focus, and roaming the area approaching wealthy passers-by.
The manager said: “I did wonder if he is homeless. He has two or three phones, an iPad, a camera – I wondered if he was part of the secret service or something.
“We see him outside every night but we’ve not seen him since last week. He’s always on the move but he stays in this area.
“As a homeless man I don’t think he should be doing that with the card machine. He told me it was given to him by the Big Issue.
“We’ve given him sandwiches and hot drinks before but we’ve had to get the police to move him on from sleeping right outside the restaurant.
“He drives a car though and one morning I even saw him arrive and get coffee out of the back of his car for some police officers.
“I don’t think it’s fair what he is doing. We all work hard and pay taxes and it pays to help out the genuine homeless people.
“I’ve seen him acting up and hobbling down the road before and pretending to be disabled, even though there is nothing wrong with him.
“And he dresses up for the occasion, so at Christmas he was wearing a Santa outfit. He’s a real entrepreneur, he’s making a real business out of it.”
When The Sun spoke to Mr Preston-Booth he admitted he used a chip-and-pin device but claimed he had “nothing to hide”.
He said: “I do it to buy things for the flat – not like smackheads who spend it on drugs and beers.”
A Met Police spokesperson said the force takes action against “aggressive begging”.