I stumbled upon a Reddit post today where expats in China are sharing their experiences of being swindled in China. It’s funny how the same scams are ever-present throughout the decades. Here was what I posted:

The first year that I was in China (in 2005, on the Coors Tour organized by Sascha) I was walking down Nanjing Lu in Shanghai when an English speaking girl approached me. She said she wanted to practice English, but I kept walking and answering her questions after saying that I wasn’t buying anything.

She offered to take me to a teahouse nearby and I said okay, so we go to the fifth floor of some random building and it’s an empty restaurant with a small cove that we were seated in. I check out the menu and it’s clearly bullshit prices but she continues talking and calls friends and says that others are joining us. I decline to order anything and she insists that this is rude – by this point I’m aware of what’s happening, but as she persists I excuse myself to leave as the situation becomes more awkward.

Before I can make it through the door frame, two Chinese guys come out of nowhere and are blocking my path. I got the impression that these were two “threatening looking Chinese guys” but I just laughed. Then they took me into a side room with people counting money in it and an old man told me he’d let me go for 500 kuai. I said no so he said 200 kuai. I held up my phone and said I was calling the police and then they opened the door for me to leave without saying a word.

Lesson learned. A funny coincidence is that almost the same thing happened to my father when he was in Shanghai in 1989. He ended up paying something like $50 for a bottle of beer though after being drawn inside by an English speaking Chinese girl.

Scammed: like father, like son.