Today me and my friend came back from Shanghai.
First day of our visit we went out in the evening, down the Nanjing road to the street with colonial banks. After dinner we were walking along the river bank, we were offered massage that evening many times, but this time (after few beers) we decided to follow a guy who offered us massage for 150 RMB for each of us. he was telling us that the club is very close, we passed several streets and appeared out of main roads. We went to the bar, were introduced several girls, having beer and dancing together - we were sitting in one room with my friend together.Then we split, my friend stayed in this room with one girl and i went to another room with another girl - she gave me a hand job and then I wen to the room where my friend was. Suddenly few guys came in the room, locked the door, and the so sad boss started to be angry at us. We wanted to pay our hand job and beer previously agreed price, but he started to write a bill....several beers, rooms hire, whisky for girls, hand job etc., finally the price was 20 000 RMB. He has spoken about his friends in police and government, that we will go to jail for paying for sex etc. We did not want to pay such amount at all, we have argued and insisted that we will not pay. Than the said boss went out of the room and another guy came in and started again, that he can give a small discount, but we have to pay otherwise we will be in big trouble, this situation repeated few times. Me and my friend were all the time asking and counting the prices again and again for nearly 2 hours, we were asking foolish questions expecting their explanations....e.g. why we have to pay the whisky if we did not drink, why we have to pay for the room hire etc (trying to get time and to destroy their superiority, because afterwards they tried to explained us also in a nice way). Meanwhile we have spoken in our language how to proceed further. My friend was nicely explaining that that we can not pay such an amount and we can pay 100 EUR more compared to previously agreed price. They insisted that we have to pay otherwise we are in big trouble. It was a strong psychological game. I came to the point when i was really fed up and angry, I started going in the room and shouting that I have very wealthy chinese friends, and if they dont want to be in trouble they will let us go, I was giving bad looks on all of them and tried to look as much furious as possible. After a while one guy left the room, after 10 minutes the so called boss came in the room and said the he has spoken with his boss and he accepted our offer for 100 EUR more, and finally he gave us even 80 RMB for taxi. I have to say that we were really lucky that there were 2 of us, it would be extremely unpleasant situation for only one person. However I recommend to fight back, if you happen to be in such situation, tell stories about your chinese friends, or something else that could destroy their stories about friends in police, jail for sex tourists, all situation recorded on camera etc.
BUT NEVER FOLLOW ANYBODY FOR MASSAGE OUT OF YOUR HOTEL!!!
Okay another twist to the scams listed below is when you are approached by 2 individuals asking for you to take a picture of them. They had you a camera, and you being a "nice guy" do so. They then start to chat you up.
This happened 2x today, and fortunately this all felt too wrong, so I said bye and off I went.
Interesting enough the first 2 were a guy and girl, the next 2 were 2 girls.
I have travelled in enough places, civilized and uncivilized ( I will let you categorize Chinas as you wish) to have enough street smarts to know better and smell a rat.
The camera trick made my guard go down, but when they talked about going some where else, I knew better. After all, our mothers told us not to talk to strangers and certain NOT go somewhere with someone you don't know.
Come on people! Whether your want to believe it or not, they are not chatting you up because they want to know you. THIS IS CHINA!!! They see non Chinese as suckers and people to take advantage of. I have travelled enough here to know this.
So beware and BE SMART! a quick hand wave of dismissal and walk away. Don't engage with them. Sorry to be so brutual, but we need to stay street smart.
As many other single travelling man i got my self in some real kind of bad and dangerous situation 2 nights ago.
After being in Shanghai for a couple of days i first stayed in the safe area in the bund near IFC.
I moved hotel to the east river side and after a nice dinner returning to my hotel i got out of the taxi and walked to the riverside to see a bit more of the skyline. I then was approached by 2 nice english speaking Chinese girls who offered me to go with them to a bar for a drink or massage.
I had drunk 3/4 of wine and was not really in the mood but i thought, its early, lets give it a try.
After a taxi ride of 10 minutes i started to feel uncomfortable since i was also carrying my big bag with camera/lenses worth 5000 bucks.
I started to say that i wanted to go back to the hotel but just then the car stopped outside a lively street with bars and clubs.. The girls payed the taxi and before i knew i walked up the stairs.
I was taken into a room and some nice looking girl walked in and it was clear it was going to be a little more then a massage, one with a happy ending handjob..
We were in the room for about 10 minutes and at some point i had enough from being in there, the girl walked away and then 5 or 6 Chinese guys walked in offering me a bill of 10.000 yen.
It was a very threatening situation and of course i refused to pay but they were really pressuring me more and more to the point i realised i wasn't going to leave before i would give in.
Also i worried big time about my camera equipment.
They told me the was the maffia, working together with the police and that they filmed the whole thing. Not much really happend and back in Europe you would not even go or pay for just a handjob. I was told prostitution was illegal and because of that i handed over my CC with my pin number.. After a while some dude came back and i had to sign for a whopping 20.000 yen!!
I just wanted to get out of the situation and the escorted me to a waiting taxi.
Back in the hotel i felt stil very scared and relieved and called the CC company to block my card.
I made up a story since i dint want to tell i got in this weird club, so i told them i got robbed in a taxi by some dudes.
Next day i talked to the hotel management and they asked if i was taken to a tea bar, karaoke bar etc Here i went wrong again and told them the taxi story. I was told that if they call the police, the police would ask many questions and drive me around to find where what happend
At the police station i was feeling more stressed about the story i was making up, the last thing i wanted is to go and see these "maffia" guys..
The police did not believed my story and made me sign my story telling me if there was any lies in there i would become under Chinese law pro and sued..
Then the police wanted to take me all day to all kinds of places, see the video recordings from the hotel, shopping mall etc to see if there was evidence.
The police investigator was very, very rude and i did not feel AT ALL taking part of this investigation that would last 1 or 2 days knowing that i would be sued if they found out about my story...
Lesson here, never go with ANYBODY in Shanghai anywhere, lesson 2, don't change your story if you do go to the police, as others wrote before, be prepared for a very stress full meeting with the police and it will ruin your trip or holiday here like it did for me..
Ordered a room massage at the hotel for 200rmb, at the end of it she moved on to finish with a happy ending with a helping hand. I was pleasantly surprised, then a bit shocked as she asked for 3000rmb for extra service.
She started making a scene and shouting at me, threatening to phone her driver. I thought she was bluffing so told her to go ahead. A few minutes later this smallish guy came to the door and said I had to pay up. Angry at the cheek of them, I grabbed him by the throat and between the legs lifting him up against the wall, I quietly told him that the girl and I were not finished now and unless he wanted to take her place that he should go wait in the car for her.
He chose the car, and the girl had a night she wouldn't forget, lets just it does fit anywhere, 3 out of 3 (for her effort). Left with a full tum and funny walk lol
If you stand up to them the will back down.
As a male traveling alone in Shanghai you will be bombarded with asian women asking you if you want a massage. I began saying no politely, by the end of the trip I began to become quite rude. I have since heard later that these are big scams where you will lose a lot of money. When you are traveling anywhere you should always be leary of people who try to lure you away from public places.
Another scam that is common in Shanghai are local people who ask you to come have tea or a bear with them. There are also people who say they are learning English and want to practice their English by talking to you. They will suggest going to a restuarant. They seem really friendly and accomadating but all they want is your money and will take a lot of it. They actively go to touristy areas and look for their victims. There are locals who are disgusted by these scams and will sometimes confront the culprits.
You will be taken away from the common public areas. You will recieve a large bill anywere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Through intimdaiton you will be forced to pay a lot of money. This happens to tourists on a daily basis and you will receive very little sympathy or service from the police.
Protect yourself by travelling smart.
Don't go anywhere with anyone you don't know, no matter how friendly they seem to be.
Me and my friend had similar massage scam experience in Shanghai main street. we was robbed about $3000-$4000. After incident we when to police station. Some good police office, who had some English, called the mafia thugs(people who robbed us). After some negotiation we managed to get $2000 back. believe me police is corrupt.
In china people would come up with pretty smart scams to rob people. the list of scams goes on and on.
My suggestions to protect yourself and your possession while in china.
1 Never carry more the enough money that you need for your day.
2 Certainly no credit card. (leave them all in your room)
3 only one form of ID(such as passport, licence).
4 don't carry other valuables such as gold, jewelry or electronics.
5 be cautious when going out during night time.
6 always call your hotel to calla cab for you.
7 never trust or follow stranger, who approach you with some offer or want to take you somewhere.
8 be suspicious all the time when you approach someone.
9 don't take anyone to your hotel room if you don't trust the person.
10 If something happen, Report it to Shanghai police. Call 110 24/7 and ask for the English speaking operator.
Be safe and have fun.
I really wish I had read HarryBarry's post about the massage scam before I visited Shanghai. Unfortunately I got taken for 29,000 RMB (nearly $5,000) and it doesn't look like I'll be able to get any of it back.
I fell for the cute girl on Nanjing road who offered a 300RMB "sexy masagee". I followed her to some bar where some other girls came in an provided what has to be the worst massage I've ever had. A few minutes later two thugs came in and handed me a bill for 29,000 RMB. I finally gave them a credit card and they put me in a cab and I thought I was at least getting home safe and that I'd be able to call the credit card people and stop the funds transfer.
Many times during this experience the cute girl, the massage girl, and the thug asked which hotel I was staying in so I sensed that this was somehow needed so I successfully kept it from them. Only when the cab delivered me to my hotel did I put the pieces together. The thugs made a big deal about how they would ruin me if I fought the charge to my card. They were evidently recording my entire massage and they said that they would give it to the Police to prove that I was breaking Chinese law by getting this massage. Since the cab ride seemed quite normal I felt safe to give the cabbie the name of my real hotel. When we arrived I was surprised to see the meter charge all of a sudden DOUBLE. Just to see if I understood what was going on I asked for a receipt and he said that he could only print out a receipt at the end of a fare (i.e. back at the bar with my troubles happened where I'm )
Unfortunately they then had a recording and the name of my hotel and the hotel has my home address and passport number. Clearly they have everything they need to get me in trouble with the cops and maybe barred from future entry to China. I was stuck and I'm now going ahead and paying the price of my stupidity.
My recommendation to all that read this blog is to ignore all offers for a sexy massage and if you do happen to get caught like I did, give the cabbie the name of the wrong hotel and then go to the Police station as HarryBarry suggests.
I recently returned from Shanghai and I wish I would have done my research before hand. I was victim of one of the scams listed below. I am writing on this site simply in the hopes that communication gets out not to trust absolutely anyone in Shanghai. I am lucky not to be seriously injured or dead. Any friendly person that comes up to you in Shanghai is in the search of getting money from you in one way or another. Do Not go with anyone anywhere, even a simply hang out bar. Do not speak to anyone you do not know. My credit card # was also stolen and used. Working that one out.... Spread the word.
I've been reading a lot of stories of people like me who were victim of the infamous shanghai scam. However, they didn't really focus on what to do after it happened to get your money back. I did manage to get my money back, so I hope that this will help some people who have experienced the same thing. In my case it was the sexy massage scam, but I guess it might be helpful if you were victim to other scams (e.g. teahouse) as well.
The basic story: some friendly people take you somewhere, you have some drinks or a massage and when you want to leave they present you the bill which is way too high. They intimidate you until you pay.
Now, in an ideal world you would go to the police, they would join you going back to where you got scammed, they would arrest or preferably shoot the people that scammed you and you get your money back. My experience in Shanghai was not like this. There can be a few reasons why you don't want (or cannot) go back to the place where you were scammed:
-Lazy cops. The police of Shanghai knows that these scams take place every day, but they don't do anything about it. They might not be very enthusiastic about joining you, because it means they actually have to work. Some of them rather sit behind the desk all day.
-Some acts of prostitution occurred during the scam (happy ending with massage scam). In this case, if you are honest to the police you will be prosecuted for prostitution and probably not enter China again anytime soon.
-You don't feel like meeting these bad people again.
In any case, if you manage to get a police officer to come with you it is questionable if you will get all your money back. It will be your word against theirs and they can probably communicate with the police better than you.
That leaves you with two other options; cancel the transaction with your credit card company (what I did) or get your money back with your travel insurance (in essence you got robbed). When you paid with cash the latter will be your only option. For both cases you will need an official police report of what happened. This is relatively easy; as long as you say that you *don't remember where* you got scammed you can write your story on some document yourself, and the police will give their nice stamp on it. Just to be sure I ensured that the story included the following details:
-They mentioned a price beforehand (300 rmb for a massage in my case)
-They spoke to me in East Nanjing road and got me into a taxi to the destination (true in my case)
-Don't mention where they took you, even if you remember.
-Don't mention any sexual actions performed during the massage.
-The amount you were charged (21000 rmb in my case)
-That they used physical violence when you wanted to leave (one big guy punching and choking me while five other men stood guard in my case)
Even when these things didn't all happen I would still mention them. Adjusting the story a little so these f***heads don't get your money is not a very big crime when you ask me. With this 'police statement' I was able to convince my credit card company that I was forced to make this transaction and they were able to cancel it. I had to block my credit card as well because of some company policy, but I guess it depends on your credit card provider. If you paid with cash, or your credit card company cannot cancel the transaction, you can use the 'police statement' to try and get your money back from your travel insurance.
I went to the Waitan Police Station just of the East Nanjing Rd, and I brought a friend who speaks Chinese. It was fairly easy to get it, to my surprise.
I hope I helped somebody with this story!
Top tips when approached by Chinese people wanting a photograph.
1st. don't trust them.
2nd. just tell them you are waiting for a friend.
3rd. Answer a fake call on your mobile and walk away.
4th. do not tell them your real name or where you are from and where you are staying.
5th. never go anywhere with someone you do not know.
Sounds simple, but i have been around and well traveled and i fell for it, if your not bored read the story.
I am staying in China for 3 months on business and quite well traveled. I'm staying in a suburb of Shanghai so after my first week i thought i would go to the center for a bit of sight seeing.
Within 5 mins of entering The Peoples Square 2 girls approached me to take their picture i thought ok. Then they were very talkative which after 5 mins i thought i have had enough of this. they told me they were going to the tea festival and would i like to join them, i said no several times as i was feeling uncomfortable and wanted to see the sites on my own.
After walking around the park another couple approached me boy/girl this time and asked the same thing please take photo i did we were talking for a while and i kick my myself now and they asked if i wanted to go to the tea festival so i thought twice in one day it must be true and excepted.
My head was telling remember the route and hold your bag while my heart was saying everyone i have met at work are kind and friendly trust them and embrace the culture. Anyway i was screwed out 440 rmb and i refused to buy anything. They kept trying to tag my bag with something they said was a lucky charm but refused as i guess this was a tag to tell the others i had already been conned. BEWARE.
I managed to find the location of the massage scam I wrote about and it is in Zhapu Road between a restaurant with fish tanks and another called Mona Lisa. The massage rooms were accessed by a lift up one floor. Looking back I am glad I escaped with no physical injuries and I obviously contacted my credit card supplier and ensured that my card would not be debited the 4980 yens and I cancelled my credit card for safety's sake.
Lessons I have learnt from this are:
1. Never trust anyone in Shanghai
2. Never give anyone you don't know your real name and address
3. Do not take your credit card with you but after reserving something in a shop go back and pay for this item by credit card.
4. If you want a massage you can often get this at a proper and safe massage center in your hotel or if not, at a regular massage parlor with published price lists. Do not accept anything to drink.
5. Pretty girls who stop you on the street don't do it because you are good looking but only as a source of easy income.
Do not ever go with anyone anywhere in Shanghai unless you know them well and know they are OK people. This apples especially to a anyone offering any form of contact or help in Nanjing Road area as they will take you to a massage parlor or coffee bar where you will be scammed for thousands of yen. The girl involved in the sales is very nice and intelligent and after talking and walking for a while you think she is straight but she is just the first of a team of criminals who will threaten you with violence using big hefty Chinese crooks if you do not accept to pay 30000 yens for club membership, fake drinks, unśolicited services, etc. I got away with paying 5000 yens after a long discussion with the boss and 3 henchmen and when I tied to foto the place was threatened and physically forced from the street by another crook on the street who was in walkie talkie contact with the other crooks and I had to escape by running after a taxi.
Never go with a girl who offers you massage. Never go with a girl who wants to practice her English. Never let anyone help you shop. Never let anyone you don't know take you anywhere at all in Shanghai. NEVER TRUST ANYONE IN SHANGHAI
I'm the guy who usually spends an entire evening looking for a laundromat in a strange city, then giving up and spending the whole night washing the whole load in the sink using one of those tiny bottles of free hotel shampoo. Thankfully I will never again have to do this in Shanghai! Check out http://myspawash.com/spawash.html. For about US$15, these folks will pick up, wash, dry, fold and return to your hotel up to 7lbs of dirty laundry, all within 24hrs! Best of all, they speak fluent English! Totally trustworthy and honest, and one of the best-kept secrets of the ex-pat community in Shanghai. Check them out... they are awesome!
Having a 12 hours flight behind us and after arriving to the hotel, we decided to take a walk to Yuyuan Garden. The lady at the reception told us that its only 15mins walk to the Yuyuan Garden- area, so we decided to stretch our legs and get some fresh air before taking a nap at the hotel.
Right outside the subway stop, next to Yuyuan area, a group of students approached us asking whether we could take a photo of them as they were travelling together. A photo was taken and the kids started talking, being very interested about us - in a polite way, and we thought they wanted to practice their English etc.
After a while, one of them offered that we could join them, as they were actually on their way to a Chinese tea ceremony. What the heck, we thought and followed them to the Tea room few streets away.
We had a great time, chatting and tasting really delicious flavors of tea together and taking photos, until the check-out time came. What happened? At the very end, we were asked which flavors we liked best, we should name four flavors. Then some gift boxes were introduced. At this point an alarm clock inside my head woke up (finally!!) and I asked the price for those tea gifts...the price was 1000RMB. We thanked and said no thanks. Ok, the bills were taken for the tea ceremony...mine was 400RMB! What happened? I paid for it, knowing that it was way overpriced...
Always trust your instincts and be always skeptical when you are asked to follow somewhere for something… and yes, there are several warnings on tea ceremony scam on internet, also on VT pages but unfortunately I did not check them before our trip.. After reading the warnings on net I discovered that actually we ended up paying quite "little" for this scam as some of the scammed tourist had to pay 1000 or more RMB's. It did leave a bad taste in the mouth, but then again, no-one was hurt.
One of the highlights in Yuyuan Garden is a rock, that, without being alerted, you risk not to notice.
It is… just a big rock, in a beautiful garden, but someone will tell you the stories: the rock diverted from their official destination to embellish the garden, the many holes and the effects of the poured water downwards, and so on.
Listen to it, take your picture and go see the garden.