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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.
Written Mar 30, 2013
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!
Written Jan 17, 2013
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.
Written Sep 10, 2012
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.
Written Jun 26, 2012
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
Written Jun 25, 2012
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!
Written Mar 1, 2012
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.
Written Dec 14, 2011
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.
Updated Dec 4, 2011
The Yuyuan garden is magnificent, with precious details deserving attention and… time.
You will feel always “pushed” by the moving crowds, in the narrow passages really pushed forward.
Enjoying the details is only possible here and there, and, suddenly you will find out that you are leaving the garden.
And you will be “pushed” out.
Updated Dec 4, 2011
The quality of the painting and the preservation of the materials in Yuyuan quarter is so perfect that it seems... phony.
Here and there we feel like in a rebuilt replica, and not in the real place, but... beautiful... yes, it is!
Very much. And natural!
Updated Dec 3, 2011
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