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roddy

The Beijing Tea Scam (and a few others)

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Nathan

In the past month I have been approached 3 times by ordinary looking Chinese youths that explained they were very hungry and they needed money to buy food. Each time there was one girl and one guy. They always look like students, and don't look very poor.

One of them said she and her boyfriend were from Nanjing and came to Beijing for work but they couldn't find any so they're poor. I asked them why they'd come to the Chaoyang area if they have no money, and they pretended not to understand. The girl was actually pretty hefty, and I was thinking, "she doesn't look like she can't feed herself."

I don't know, I think they could be sociology students or something. Just wondering if anyone else has had the same experiences recently.

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fireball9261

In another thread,"street hoaxer - 吊模(diao4mo2)", taijidan mentioned this new term, 吊模(diao4mo2). In the old time, in Taiwan, we have a term for this type of scam when it turned into black mailing, and it is called "仙人跳" (xian1 ren2 tiao4). 仙人跳 usually happens with one girl or woman who will come over to you to flirt or to ask for your help. When you go home or go to a hotel room with her and in a state of comprimising position (or even not too much so), her boyfriend or husband will come with a lot of his friends and black mail you a chunk of money for dishonoring his woman! Sometimes, if you are in a smaller bar or a smaller club that is primarily their friends or people, being in a more isolated seat talking with the woman could also be dangerous for such black mail.

吊凱子 (diao4 kai3 zi - hooking generous guy) is also a term in Taiwan. Many young women or girls would stand outside of bars, clubs, or movie theaters or nice restaurants to see if anyone wealthy would come and invite them to go in there for a free meal or free fun. They are not hookers and not interested in giving any actual physical favors to the rich guys. However, they might let them taking a bit of advantages like holding their hands or sneak in a kiss or two. They would usually disappear either nicely or abruptly after she had enough fun. The rich guy is called 凱子 (kai3 zi - generous guy) or more snickeringly by the girls and others, 冤大頭 (yuan1 da4 tou2 - innocent/naive big heads). These girls mentioned as 吊模(diao4mo2 - the models who hook) are doing the same actions as those girls in Taiwan but more professional. The ones who got hooked would be considered as the 冤大頭 (yuan1 da4 tou2 - innocent/naive big heads).

凱子 (kai3 zi - generous guy) must be generous and might not be rich. Many great 凱子 (kai3 zi) are actually the poorer guys who want to impress pretty girls. This is not from my own experiences -- I was a pretty serious young woman and generally did not like such activities and such mentalities. I believe in having one boyfriend at a time and never having any affairs within the marriage. I also would not have my boyfriend(s) pay for my meals when we go out dating. I learned all these from my god sisters, my maids, my father's secretaries, my mom's tailors, and my classmates! They were all about 14 -20 or so and pretty wild. Listening to them, I picked up quite a few tips of how to spot the potential victims, how to 吊凱子 (diao4 kai3 zi) or hook them, how to flirt correctly without giving in too much, and how to give them the slip when things (flirting) gets too serious and too dangerous (too close to give the real thing). If the 凱子 (kai3 zi) is really nice, the girls sometimes would decide to really date them and become their true girlfriends. However, being nice is not being stupid. No Chinese women would get too impressed with men who stupidly throwing money at strange girls or women without knowing them for a while -- The idea is: If he would do this for me now, wouldn't he do the same thing when another younger or prettier girl coming along later after he is dating me?

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Lu

A Taiwanese guy told me last night how he had run into an Italian variety of the tea scam. He was walking somewhere in an Italian city when a guy asked him the way, and then invited him to come too, to some restaurant. Taiwanese guy, used to Taiwanese people who are actually that nice and invite total strangers over, didn't suspect anything and went with the guy to the place. They drank, were joined by some girls who drank with them, had some pizza, and in the end the Taiwanese got saddled with a bill of 1900 euro. Outrageous. He 只好 paid it and put it down as a learning experience.

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adrianlondon
saddled with a bill of 1900 euro

That's 20,000 RMB! Even when they're being ripped off, Chinese tea is cheap ;)

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zozzen
I hope I've offended none of our Asian members/guests. Sometimes it is very easy to slip into larger generalizations when talking about individuals or small groups of them. If that has or does happen, it is certainly not my intent. Discussing unpleasant events or types of individuals should not tar a larger group.

not really offensive. Chinese talks about these scams all the time.

I guess "Teahouse scam" is imported through lonely planet or some travel guidebooks with good coverage on scams. A decade ago, i experienced exactly the same scam in italy. I was approached by a friendly tourist who took me to a bar, and it was grossly overcharged. Then i refused to pay, insisted that i must call a police. After less than 3 mins i left without paying a penny. After going back to my hostel, i found that this trick was widely covered in travel books but i hadn't read it before.

But i'm wondering why this bad trick can be imported here. Westerners are usually heavier and bigger and there's an advantage for the fight. If i were cheaters i would use weapons that would put me under the risk of committing a murder.

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gougou
If i were cheaters i would use weapons that would put me under the risk of committing a murder.
Then you wouldn't need the teahouse anymore...

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Lu

The average westerner may be bigger than the average Chinese, but I think the average tourist is not necessarily bigger, or more powerful, or, in short, more likely to win a fight, than the average scammer. Also, the tourist doesn't know how many friends the scammer has hiding at the back of the tea house or restaurant, and whether he has a knife.

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roddy

Plus I don't think the physical threat is usually, if ever, made explicit. It's not about intimidation, it's about preying on people who aren't local, don't really know what prices they should be paying anyway and who, when they turn to their new 'friends' for help, don't find any. I reckon if you did an audit of all the tea-house scam reports on here and elsewhere, you'd find phrases like 'it seemed a lot, but I wasn't sure so . . ' much more often than 'I was scared they'd beat me up, so . . .'

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heifeng

i was watching some beijing channel today when they showed a crackdown around 4/23 at a houhai bar where ladies would lure in customers (also sent out massive sms and qq messages advertising 一夜之情) and later when the girls brought in a guest they would say they were thirsty and get him to order wine or something which ended up costing and average of almost 1000 yuan....I think the report said about 40 people were arrested

similar to the tea scam....sorta

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flameproof
i was watching some beijing channel today when they showed a crackdown around 4/23 at a houhai bar where ladies would lure in customers (also sent out massive sms and qq messages advertising 一夜之情) and later when the girls brought in a guest they would say they were thirsty and get him to order wine or something which ended up costing and average of almost 1000 yuan....

Two years ago I met such a girl in Beijing. We met online, and later offline. She wanted to to go with me into some sort of basement bar - after I suggested "Starbucks", and insisted on it she suddenly had to leave. SHe didn't spoke a single word of English.

Currently the scammers seem to be rare. In April I was in the former spammers holy grail (Oriental Plaza or so... 东方中心。。??) and only one girl wanted to "practice English", before it was one every Minute.

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roddy
Two years ago I met such a girl in Beijing. We met online, and later offline. She wanted to to go with me into some sort of basement bar - after I suggested "Starbucks", and insisted on it she suddenly had to leave. SHe didn't spoke a single word of English.

Yeah, same thing happened to this guy.

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Shadowdh

Thats funny cos when my family was here we stayed on Wangfujing and walking 故宫 we came across about 4 scammers all to do with art... one guy even bumped into us 3 days in a row... the first time asking us to go to the art show then the next saying hey do you want to go... oh I met you yesterday... the third he just said hi... :mrgreen: it was kind of fun to explain to the wife what they were up to, but when I used the old sorry we are meeting a friend my kids would helpfully say "no we're not Dad"... god bless them...:lol:

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gougou
and only one girl wanted to "practice English"
Just to emphasize again that not everybody who wants to learn English is a scammer: all the girls (and the one guy) that approached me in Wangfujing about practicing English were interested in exactly that; once their vocabulary ran out - which mostly was after 4-5 sentences - they'd say goodbye and leave me alone.

The ones that had art to sell said so openly; I went to have a look at a few and got less resistance when leaving without buying anything than when shopping at Yashow.

Never had anybody asking me into a teahouse. :cry:

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renzhe

One thing you should watch out for are fake tourist buses. The scammers will go to great lengths to convince you that they're the official city bus.

Happened to me in Beijing with the bus line to the Great Wall. The guy stood there, with an official looking ID, ordering buses for the tourists who missed the morning ones (we were late). Then it turns out that it would cost much more than regular and would take at least 10 tourists before it was worth it to call the bus. Then he recommended to hire a taxi for half a day. It was my last day in China so I couldn't come the next day. Then he had trouble getting a taxi for us (which he happily tried to do for us, being the public servant he is), and then he ended up being the taxi driver himself.

I'm not lying when I say that I distrusted the guy from the very first moment, and that I knew he was lying through his teeth, but it seemed to be the only chance of seeing the Great Wall, so I went along (he spoke to my girlfriend, I didn't interfere directly).

It went without a hitch, even if it did cost us a lot more than a bus, but I wouldn't recommend it. After figuring out that I spoke Chinese, was from Eastern Europe (no $$$), was twice as big as him and didn't like him at all, he stopped trying to weasel even more money out of us. Still, it's something I'd never do if I didn't really have to see the Great Wall on that very day.

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heifeng

not really a scam, but falling under the shady behavior category:

I find red cabs in Beijing kinda shady these days (or as of a few months ago) and really try to avoid using them...apparently those cabs are getting phased out so sometimes may actually be owned by an individual or something like that (according to my roommate at least), so aren't really managed so well.

When a friend was visiting I would sometimes end up going home a bit too late to catch a bus or walk from her apt to mine. On 2 occasions when only red cabs were available in her area (Madian) the cab driver was really unprofessional/sneaky (case 1: not using the meter plus being super creepy...which made me get outta the cab even before I got home, 2: trying to short change me TWICE by giving me all singles...yeah he thought I wasn't gonna recount all those twice..if he did it just once I would assume he just made a mistake, but to re-give me change and get it wrong the 2nd time too was just not cool..)

On the other hand, I need to give credit where credit's due:

I haven't had a problem with other company cabbies, they have been professional and curteous and sometimes even just round down a kuai or so.

just be wary of those red cabs....ewww

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Danimalist

I'm exiting the Silk Market the other day when a university-aged girl says, "Hi, how are you?" or something of that nature. She claims that she studies English and wants to practice. We sat on the steps in front and chatted for a few hours without even a suggestion of going somewhere else.

But today, walking to the Yonganli subway station I get stopped by another university-aged girl wanting to practice her English. When I respond in Mandarin and then catch myself and switch to English, she says, "Oh, it's OK. You can speak Mandarin." Having never had a language partner give up on the opportunity to communicate solely in English so easily, alarm bells rang. Soon came the, "I'm an art student..."

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Danimalist

Damn, I must look lonely...

In the last few days:

-Art scam attempted while approaching the Forbidden City. The girls "studio" actually looked very official...past a soldiers inside the gate of the Worker's Cultural Park.

-Several "tea house scam" attempts near and inside Oriental Plaza, including one girl who got right to the point, approaching me by saying "Do you want some tea?" (her lack of English skills are apparently offset by her youth and good looks).

-Almost uncountable approaches from prostititues in Wangfujin, including last night a male prostitute in a pink polo!

-The weirdest of all...got out at the Jianguomen subway station, walked a block, was about to cross the street, when a passing car with two girls in front (and who knows who in the back!) suddenly stopped, one girl got out asked where I was going and the asked if I'd like to be accompanied by two pretty girls.

Hmmm...in the States it's the johns that pick up the streetwalkers...

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Lu

I still object to calling the art shop thing a scam. They may be lying insofar as they are perhaps not actual art students, but as far as I know nobody is ever cheated out of any money in this construction. What they want is you to come to their shop, and buy something. They promise they will show you art, and if you go with them that's what they do. If you choose to part with any money, you can buy a painting; if you don't want to spend any money, you're free to walk out. How is this so very different from a million other shopowners calling the foreigner into their shop, or a hotel owner approaching a fresh off the bus tourist to promote their hotel?

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johnmck
How is this so very different from a million other shopowners calling the foreigner into their shop, or a hotel owner approaching a fresh off the bus tourist to promote their hotel?

It is very different. I have often had people come-up to trying to get me to go to their restaurants, hotels, taxis,... But none of these people come-up to me claiming they only want to me to help them practise their English, spend 10 minutes trying to befriend me and build-up my confidence in them before they guide me into an enclosed space that contains skilled high-pressure salesmen. These students are in the blur (a wide blur) of the line between normal business and confidence tricksters. Is it a Scam? It depends on how you want to dress it. There is no problem helping strangers with their English, it is just best to ensure they are not really after the contents of your wallet.

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roddy

I think people have different experiences, depending on how lucky they are perhaps. Certainly a lot of the sales patter (oh, I'm an art student . . . we are organizing an exhibition to go to . . . where are you from again?) is nonsense. Scam or not, it's likely to be a waste of time, and while similar in ways to the traditional arm-pulling 'look look' approach it's subtle enough that a warning to tourists so they at least make an informed approach is a good idea.

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