Benjamin Holst knows how to turn lemons into lemonade. The 33-year-old German, who, according to the Daily Mail, suffers from macrodystrophia lipomatosa, a rare form of localized gigantism, spent several years on the streets of Asian cities putting his grossly misshapen right leg to work by begging money from sympathetic passersby, before winding up in The Gambia, where he married a local woman in December 2017.

His technique was to sit on the side of the street and ask locals for money to buy a flight ticket home. He was caught several times using the cash to cavort with bargirls in red-light districts across Asia.

He was thrown out of Thailand and permanently blacklisted in 2014 after photographs emerged of him using begged money to party with “femmes du nuit” in Pattaya, an area famous for its seedy nightlife. According to Coconuts Media, he has since been ejected from Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, and even Bhutan – a reclusive and sedate Buddhist kingdom, where he must surely have struggled to pursue his love of booze and women of easy virtue. He has also been seen plying his “trade” in the Philippines and Hong Kong, while he has been arrested in Indonesia and Malaysia for the same activity.

Converted to Islam

According to Thaivisa, following his marriage, the canny con man converted to Islam, the same religion as his wife, and changed his name to Benjamin Mohammed Drammeh.

When Thaivisa asked him if he was planning to return to Thailand he reportedly said: "With my new name it's more easy," showing a reporter the official document confirming his new moniker.

Holst is the most notorious member of a peculiar breed that has been clogging up the streets of Thai cities for the past couple of years - tourists from rich countries who try to scam the locals for cash to continue their travels.

Notable cases from 2017 include a Caucasian woman pictured begging in Bangkok’s Chatuchak Park with her toddler. She was later photographed in the northern city of Chiang Mai with her husband, who had apparently joined her so that they could beg as a family.

'Cute' beggar

Also in 2017, a blonde woman claiming to be deaf was photographed selling miniature Thai flags on the streets of the capital.

In January this year, a blond Ukrainian man sparked mixed reactions among locals in the southern city of Hat Yai, after spreading out his travel photos on the ground in a local market and offering them for sale, purportedly to raise cash to return home.

According to Coconuts Media, after a member of the crowd posted a video of the man on Facebook, some locals left comments condemning the man as a beggar, while others defended the blond twentysomething, with one describing him as “cute” and another tagging her female friend and commenting: “Are you interested? He’s white! You can get a picture and talk to him. So worth it.”