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August 22, 2011

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Home » Metro » Public Services

Passengers fooled by 'epilepsy con'

A FOREIGNER who came to the aid of a man apparently having an epileptic fit on a subway train was taken in by a "professional scammer," local residents claim.

Many Metro riders didn't realize they had also been conned until a picture was published online last Friday.

It showed a man seemingly suffering a fit being helped by a male foreigner on a Metro Line 2 train last week, while Chinese passengers stood by.

The picture sparked outrage among web users, with many angrily accusing Chinese people of being indifferent to the plight of others.

But other residents were also angry as they claimed they recognized the man as the "epilepsy patient" they had encountered on the subway.

He spun passengers different tragic life stories in an attempt to get their sympathy and cash, claimed web users.

Resident "Yoyo" said: "I can't believe it's him again!"

"I was touched by his stories and gave him 10 yuan (US$1.56) when I saw him, but he was just using my sympathy."

Yoyo told Shanghai Daily she saw the man, who was carrying a bag of empty bottles, fall down and start foaming at the mouth on a Metro Line 4 train on June 15.

Many passengers rushed to his aid, offering him water, and he quickly recovered after taking pills, she said.

"He told us he was collecting bottles to get 300 yuan for a train ticket to go back his hometown," Yoyo said, "He looked very thin and ill, so many passengers believed him and gave him money."

Another local resident, "Pauline," told Shanghai Daily that she had seen the man apparently have a fit on Metro Line 2 train at least four times, most recently last Wednesday.

"He acted the same way every time - shaking, falling down, and foaming," said Pauline, "Then he got up and started telling his story to passengers."

She said the man told them that he came from Sichuan Province, his parents had abandoned him in Shanghai, and he had to earn money for a train ticket home. Many people gave him 50 yuan to 100, she said.

At least 10 other residents said online that they had met the same man and given him money.

"The scammer must be punished," said Pauline. "Otherwise, who will offer help if someone really takes ill on the Metro?

But the Metro operator said it couldn't stop the man as it could not prove he was not suffering from epilepsy.

An official, surnamed Lan, said passengers should help anyone who falls ill on a train.

"But if the patient acts strangely, passengers should call the police or alert Metro staff," said Lan.


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