LONDON - MOL - Illegal street beggars in one UK city are earning up to £36,000 a year, police have revealed. Scroungers in Nottingham boast they are pocketing up to £700 a week and are even spending some nights sleeping in hotels.

One beggar is making so much cash he throws away food he doesn’t want and pays to get around the city by taxi. Shockingly, at least eight of the beggars around the East Midlands city are not even homeless as they callously cash-in from kind-hearted shoppers. Some of them have started posing as Big Issue sellers as they rake in the equivalent £20 an hour. Nottinghamshire Police yesterday warned unsuspecting Christmas shoppers and office workers in the city to be aware of illegal beggars.

Sergeant Huw Jones said: ‘One of the men boasts frequently about how much money he makes on a daily basis. ‘This usually adds up to a total of between £600 to £700 per week. ‘We believe this man is not an official Big Issue magazine vendor but he “sells” the magazine in the city centre and then begs off the back of the sale.’ He said another man can seen wandering the streets carrying a sleeping bag - something he does only for effect. Sgt Jones added: ‘His appearance is unkempt and dishevelled but this is an image that he portrays to gain public sympathy.