Until recently expat executives in China only had to worry about meeting sales and production quotas, and perhaps the occasional identity theft scam. But these days, the risks have grown and victims are multiplying. Most are too embarrassed to admit they were snookered for $50,000 by a beautiful young Chinese girl in her 20s who can barely speak English.
“Michael” as we have agreed to call him so he can safely share this warning with you is an executive with a large MNC in Beijing. Almost every Friday he stops at the LAN Club for Happy Hour. The upscale lounge attracts Beijing’s elite entrepreneurs, a few celebrities, plenty of hookers, and young victims like Michael who want to unwind from a stressful week. After having a few drinks, Michael noticed a young beautiful Chinese girl sitting across the bar from him looking at with “seductive eyes” as he put it. Within 10 minutes the looks turned into a conversation and the two hit it off quite well, as they decided to have dinner together. After a pricey meal they exchanged phone numbers and Michael was pleasantly surprised that she offered no sexual services as he had feared. He was thrilled that she was not a hooker.
The following Sunday they went to Fragrant Mountain together and had a lovely time snapping each others photo in the scenic park. At the end of a long day Michael invited her back to his place, but she declined saying he was "moving too fast" and she was not a fan of "casual sex". Michael was both impressed and frustrated as he was developing strong feelings for the beautiful and "traditional Chinese" girl.
But the two agreed to go to Huairou in the nearby countryside the following weekend to have a "quiet time" together and ride some horses near Lake Yan Qi. Michael brought some wine and hoped to get lucky. He did. It was a passionate night for sure and Michael slept like a baby afterward. But when he awoke in the morning, Ming was gone and left a note for Michael to call her "brother" and something about her having to "see a doctor". Fearing some family accident Michael called the "brother" and got the shock of his life…
Ming says she was drugged and raped and was at the doctor’s office getting a medical report to take to the police. The “brother” asked Michael what he wanted to do. Michael was speechless. The sex was great and completely consensual as he recalled that Ming refused to let him use a condom. Michael began to freak and asked to speak with Ming. Her brother explained that Ming would never speak with him again and he could meet her at the police station if he wanted. Michael was now beginning to wonder how he would explain his arrest to his colleagues and his Chinese HR director. The “brother” asked Michael if he new Ming was only 17 years old. Michael was sure she had said “26”. There was an awkward silence on the phone as Michael’s heart was beating wildly. The good brother offered a solution…
Long story short, for $50,000 the brother would persuade his fake sister to remain silent and even send him a love letter saying she had to break up with him as insurance against a future shake-down. Michael thought about the alternatives which would include arrest, being jailed, humiliated in the news, suspension or terminated from his $80,000 job, and loss of all his friends in China and back home in Chicago. Nobody would ever believe him, or so he thought (We heard this same story at least a dozen times). He agreed to the pay-off and borrowed a few dollars from his family back west and emptied his local account to foot the bill for Ming’s silence. The scammers were elated with their latest score – one of many that keep accumulating.
Michael is lucky in a way. Other “big brothers” who run this scam would take the $50,000 and in another two or three months, come back for a second slice of sucker pie and claim sis “discovered she is now pregnant” and then negotiate a second pay-off for another $50,0000. Our CSP investigation indicates that one scam operator is operating between 5-8 little sisters at one time and we have traced the origins of this scam to Shanghai in the late 1990s. It is such a devious and embarrassing scam that very few victims come forward to talk about it. We have forward our reports to the authorities who swear they will run a sting. But whoever they ultimately arrest will be quickly replaced by others who can’t resist the quick and big money this scam generates in less than 4-6 week that it takes to run from beginning to end. One con artist operating 5 girls is earning roughly $250,000 every month. Over the last year they have claimed victims at Nestle, IBM, and Siemens. Interestingly, not all the victims are expats. They are equal opportunity scammers.
Victims need not be charming nor even good looking. Michael is balding, has an acne problem and even a small beer belly. Ming said she was attracted to him by his “unselfishness and intelligence” and frequently complimented him on his “sense of humor”. Michael swallowed it all. So would most single guys who meet a sweet, sexy, and friendly girl in a foreign land who simply wants to “socialize”. BTW… not all the girls are Chinese. Many Russian girls are also players in this popular fraud scheme.
If you patronize upscale nightclubs and hotel restaurants/lounges you will probably be targeted. Stay sober and safe or then next ONS or even what you think is a genuine budding relationship, will be quite costly and stressful beyond description. Sanya and other resort areas are hot spots for this scam as well. You’ve been warned.