400-003-2588 中文|English

Current Location:Home > NEWS > > A Guide to Scams In China

A Guide to Scams In China

source:Teach Abroad time:2019-11-20 15:38:51 read:1654

For those teachers who have lived in China for a while they realise it’s an incredibly safe country. Well, when we say “safe”, we mean little to no violent crime or confrontational assault. It’s true, especially in the east and south of China, it’s very rare to witness or even hear about instances of serious physical crime. But, and it is a big BUT, that is not to say crime is completely absent from mainland China. One thing we want our teachers to become aware of is the rise in fraudulent crime in recent years. Scams, particularly online, have become rampant so we want you all to become savvy aware and follow a few simple rules. 

Live in China

Sneaky, low level crime was usually reserved to stealing bicycles at night but it’s progressed into more sophisticated methods of entrapping people and some of these deliberately focus on foreign tourists and expats. The classic scams to look out for are:

1.        Fake Teahouse / Ceremony Scam

This notorious scam is usually found in Beijing, Shanghai and Xian but it has been reported in Hangzhou. Lost-looking tourists can often be accosted by Chinese “locals” speaking surprisingly good English. They will be befriended and invited to a rare tea-drinking ceremony at a “distinguished” local teahouse. After all the pleasantries and small talk is over the foreigner can be presented with a bill for 5000 -10,000 RMB. Any refusal to pay will result in threats of police and reprisals. Many tourists end up losing money for nothing other than a well-orchestrated sham. The tea consumed is nothing special, the entire set-up is a scene of trickery. 

2.        Fake Taxis / no meter Taxis

There are some areas of Hangzhou where you should avoid getting street taxis from. For example, outside Wulinmen Bus Station and outside the main temples. These taxi drivers will not put on their meters and attempt to charge astronomical prices in broken aggressive English. Avoid at all cost 

3. Massage Scams

These are notorious to Shenzhen and Shanghai but Hangzhou has it’s own fair share of places of the night! What can appear as an innocuous massage or spa shop can turn out to be an institution of ill-repute. The problem is, even if customers have a regular massage, it may be insinuated you had much much more! Threats are made and large volumes of cash handed over. It should be noted there are also “working ladies” in many of the western hotels in Hangzhou looking to strike up conversations in hotel bars. Obviously these conversations lead to somewhere else and businessmen are often left red-faced and empty-pocketed.

4.        Fake Accident / Bike Crash

One extremely low tactic of trying to extort money from people is faking injury and accident. This tends to be the older generation looking to “accidentally" get hit by someone on a bicycle. Injury is feigned, large hospital bills and compensation is demanded by an aggressive family member. This situation is more common than thought, it has been known in Hangzhou but more so in Southern cities 

5.        Fake Chinese Traditional Medicine 

Another popular con-trick is for foreigners to come across people practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine and be offered treatment a extortionate prices. There are plenty of genuine practitioners in Hangzhou who hold genuine licenses so please do your research beforehand

6.        Fake QR scan codes on Share-bicycles 

QR codes are everywhere in Hangzhou. This hasn’t stopped canny fraudsters from covering genuine QR codes with fake QR codes trying to extract personal financial information. Be careful

7.        WeChat /Alipay scams

So this leads us to the fastest growing type of scam in recent months. Fraudsters contacting people in WeChat groups, befriending and expertly extracting sensitive bank details. This kind of crime is on the rise and the police are unable to track the culprits down in most cases. We would like to remind teachers NEVER GIVE PERSONAL FINANCIAL DETAILS over WeChat. People are looking to link your bank details with their WeChat wallet and extract money from you account. There are safeguards in place. WeChat will send you verification codes, this is for you only. Be super cautious if people are asking you for these kind of details. 

These scammers, who target foreigners, have one thing in common, they speak excellent English. In fact, as a rule of thumb, if you are randomly contacted or approached by someone speaking very good English and overly friendly, you should consider this a red flag. It may seem a shame to rebut genuine advances but it’s best to be safe rather than sorry. Friendships in China usually take a while to blossom so offers of meeting someone’s relatives or going to a restaurant within ten minutes of meeting may be considered warning signs. 

All this being said, most teachers have a trouble free existence in China. People are genuine and friendly in everyday contact. Enjoy your time here but please be mindful of the very small minority who are insincere and out to scam you.  

Apply Now

Candidates must hold a bachelor degree or above to apply the program according to work visa policy in China.


1. Fill out the application
2. Interview (we will email most qualified applicants within 48 hours)
3. Offer (Shortly after interview, we will notify successful applicants and begin placement process)


©Echo Education | Teach English ABroad | Legal declaration| Privacy policy| Foreign Affairs Service| English For Kids| English Teacher