China Expats & Foreign Teachers Targeted For Identity Theft In Droves – 5,000 Victims Monthly

“Foreign teachers looking for a job in China these days often find a lot more than employment – grief. Sophisticated ID thieves have found a clever and easy way to defraud credit card companies and merchants in China using unwitting foreign English teachers as their “accomplices.” By posing as recruitment agents for some 19,000 schools in China, the id thieves are stealing more than three dozen IDs every day, and three months later the victims are horrified to get that dreaded letter from the bank followed by an embarrassing visit from the police that their neighbors and colleagues at work will gossip about for months. The average loss per victim according to complaints filed is roughly $12,000, which in China represents two years salary for most Chinese. Here is a typical story that is repeated every day, at least three dozen times in Beijing alone.

A small apartment in Wudaokou is the base of operations for Yi, a 27 year old girl from Tianjin recruited by her uncle in Henan Province who is an ID Theft ring leader. In her Beijing apartment five young Chinese college drop-outs earn $15 a day to post ads all over the internet. Their favorite place to post is,, and the many ESL teacher forums listed below. The ads are replicated from legitimate ads they find on the internet. Small details are changed such as location, working hours and days, and of course the contact information. Because, and these other forums hide the real email addresses of their advertisers (including the phony ID thieves posing as school recruiting reps), applicants do not know they are not really replying to a “direct employer” as the ads claims. Instead they are submitting their resumes, passport and visa scans to a free,,, or similar free email address – a sure giveaway you are dealing with an agent.

Yes, there are indeed legitimate employment recruiters in China. But they are the proverbial needle in the haystack. Of the 13,785 known recruiters and agents, only 362 in all of China are actually properly registered and licensed to operate by law. The rest are unregistered individuals hiding behind phony names and anonymous email addresses. But they will make some nice offers, which if were true, are far better than most opportunities in China. Typically they will offer 10,000 to 15,000 yuan per month with a free Z visa, medical benefits, and even air fare. Some will even hijack and use the logo of a famous company like Disney or New Oriental, or English First in their ads. Once the applicant buys into the ruse they are doomed.

After submitting their resumes, an applicant will get the good news by email or a call from untraceable numbers that they will be hired and more information is required to process the “employment permit” or to get an “invitation letter” or“Z visa”. Not knowing better and being excited by the news, foreigners will cooperate – giving the ID thieves everything they need to steal money and credit from the applicant and their credit card companies.

Back to our story, “Joanne” from Boston (not her real name) fell for it all last August and sent everything that was required and was offered a great job and invited to China to take a job that paid 18,000 yuan at a private Kindergarten in Beijing. However upon arriving in Beijing and checking in with her recruiter, who never once invited Joanne to an office, but always arranged meetings at a coffee shop, told her that great job was filled by another agent.

But there is always “another job” available that never pays nearly as well – and using yet another agent like China ESL owned by the notorious Rebecca Tang (see this link for more pertinent details Now desperate for an income, in a foreign land, Joanne accepts a job she is told pays 10,000 yuan per month. In reality, the job actually pays 16,000 but Joanne will never know that because the agents will pay her, not the school. The extra 6,000 will be split between China ESL and the school principal who is in on the scam (see this link

Some teachers will be told that because the first three months of any job in China are probationary, no contract will be signed until the 90 days are up, or of there is a contract, the teacher will work for 50% of their salary during the“probationary period.” By the time the 90 days are up, the teachers are released for a number of fabricated reasons like “budget cutbacks”, “staffing consolidation”, “poor academic evaluations” and a new batch of gullible and naïve teachers are fed into the reduced pay cycle of “probationary teachers.”

The next month 20% of all teachers who go through this recruitment and hiring process will be asked by their bank to “please visit with our bank manager to discuss a problem with your account”.At that visit the teacher will be asked many questions and asked to see their hard copy passport which will be copied and held until the police arrive. They are then advised they must pay a huge amount of money “they” spent and owe on delinquent credit card purchases all over China.The language barrier makes, the teacher’s frustration even worse, especially when they have $60,000 in student loans to pay back in their homeland.

In attempt to get the teacher to pay up the monies (even though most bankers know they are truly innocent victims) veiled and direct threats of one year imprisonments are made followed by deportation. Some teachers are so scared of these possibilities that they actually pay the monies fearing they can get no help from anyone in a foreign country which is the near reality in China. Joanne lived through this nightmare and although she refused to pay the $16,897 from three credit card accounts opened in her name, she has spent over $5,000 on a law firm that is trying to restore her good name and credit. Because the police insisted on driving her home from the bank to verify her residence address, the neighbors have not talked to Joanne in over 2 months. “I feel like a convicted pedophile living here but I cannot afford to move out” she says.

Last year it is estimated by Interpol and the China Foreign Teachers Union that over 7,000 foreign teachers in China were victimized but since the perpetrators are so hard to identify there is seldom a prosecution for ID theft in China. “This represents about 20% of the foreign teachers working in China.”Says Dan Porter of the CFTU, a volunteer group in Beijing that has been trying to warn expats with various scam alerts and blacklists that grow longer every month. The foreign teachers already in China are learning an expensive lesson, but every year a new group of university graduates are lured by the man “Teach Abroad In China” ads that litter the internet. The ID thieves are plenty smart enough to invest in SEO. The below web sites are all suspected fronts for ID theft rings, and those that are not will try to appropriate an average of 50% of a teacher’s real salary as their monthly “fee”.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and 37 more websites that you can find at

Foreign teachers abroad looking at the China option are urged to do three things BEFORE they send any information in response to an ad:

1) Visit and thoroughly read

2) Check the China School & Agent Blacklist at

3) Send this form letter below with your resume containing only your first name. Recruiters who do not complete and return the forms should be reported to badapples(at)

Furthermore, one should never ever send copies of their passports, visas, social security, cards, or driver’s licenses to anyone who you do not personally verify to be a direct employer, and only after they inform you that you have been selected for employment and send you a contract to review.Also never allow your photo to posted on line where an ID thief can cut, paste, and “borrow” it without your knowledge.

Any foreign expat who is defrauded in any way (not only ID theft) should make a written complaint to the below individuals in the Chinese government and send copies of your complaint to your embassy and to us here at China Scam Patrol. (tips{at}

Honorable Wu Aiying
Minister of Justice
Minisrty of Justice
10 Nandajie, Chaoyangmen
Chaoyang District, Beijing
100020, China

Honorable Yuan Guiren
Minister of Education
No.37 Damucang Hutong,
Xidan, Beijing, P.R.C

He Guoqiang
National Bureau of Corruption Prevention of China
NO.2 Guang’An Men Nan Jie,
Xuanwu Disrict,
Beijing 100053

Lastly, in an attempt to warn others, you may want to post your story in the General Discussion threads of Beijing and Shanghai expat forums in an attempt to warn others with a post title of “China Scam Warning” or something similar. Hopefully, after reading all of the above you will now be part of the solution and not a part of the probability. Believe the hype of those ads and you too will be exposing yourself to costly fraud in a foreign country where there is no Better Business Bureau or FTC that will lift a finger to help you. One last link we suggest you take a look at that will give a good whiff of the reality coffee is


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