A man who searching for his elderly father has discovered him being used in a scheme to get followers by a TikTok user claiming the man has no children, and desperately needs financial help.
The heartbreaking videos that have notched up a large following show the man apparently living in a decrepit mountain home and feeding on scraps.
In three dozen videos posted to the TikTok account named ‘jilu dashanzhong shenghuo’ – ‘documenting life in the mountains’ – the person filming claims that the poor man is living on scraps and asks for help in providing food for him.
But he has now been identified by a man from the county of Qianxi in China’s south-western province of Guizhou, named only as Mr Long, who says there is no doubt that the person in the footage is his long-lost father, Long Jiaming.
In all the videos, the elderly man can be seen wearing the same ripped and dirty clothes in every frame.
In one, the pensioner, who would now be 71 years old, is seen scooping water out of a large vat and drinking from it before pouring some into a metal container filled with rice.
In another, he is seen squatting down on the ground while cooking over a small wood fire.
In each shot, Mr Long’s father appears disheveled and unkempt, while captions under each social media post encourage viewers to “follow” the account.
The account holder, who appears to be male, writes that he is using his own money to provide for the pensioner, while also apparently falsely claiming the man has no children, the posts show.
But Mr Long, who recognised his father by a scar on the left side of his forehead, suspects he is being exploited, as the videos posted over the span of a year show no material improvements to his dad’s living conditions.
He told local media: “A relative came across the videos and thought he looked like my father, so she sent them to my wife.
“We’ve been looking for him for such a long time. He’s definitely my father. That much I know.
“He’s left-handed and has no teeth. Even his hairstyle. I recognise it all.”
Mr Long said his dad – born 10th July 1948 – went missing while they were working together in the city of Jinjiang in East China’s Fujian Province in 2011.
He added: “I quit my job to look for him. I even filed a missing person report with the police.
“My father is a very honest man. He doesn’t speak mandarin and is illiterate.
“He’s a little slower in the head compared to everyone else.
“Of the 39 videos he’s posted, 37 are of my father.
“We’ve left him lots of private messages, but he’s not responded.
“Maybe he’s using my father to grow his followers.”
Mr Long said he is desperate to bring his father home, and has been urged to contact to police in Jinjiang, where the original missing person report was filed nine years ago.
The family are also expected to seek the help of TikTok, which is marketed in China under the title ‘Douyin’.
Under the latest video posted on 4th May, more than 14,000 comments have been left urging the account holder to reply to the family’s messages.
The TikTok user has not responded to Asia Wire’s request for comment either.
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