Confessions of a China ESL & TEFL Teacher Job Agent – What Recruiters Will Never Tell you…

As you might guess, we get a lot of email at China Scam Patrol. We never expected to get a confession like this however. We received permission from “RWA” to publish his email in our April newsletter and on our website as well…

A Warning to China Job Applicants from a former China ESL Teacher Recruiter…


Over the last 10 years it has become far more difficult for schools in China to find qualified foreign teachers to come work in China, for many reasons, all of them are listed below. But this has not stopped the shady China job recruiters from hyping the hell out of China and with plenty of deception they trapped me 4 years ago into taking the China plunge.

I taught for 2 years, and then because of economic necessity had to work for a black agency (that is now based in New York since even the laowai owner got tired of gagging on the China air pollution and went home to continue his fleecing of gullible and naive foreigners via Skype). I have finally had enough and decided to tell you all the truth about China jobs that have no future nor long-term benefit for foreign teachers. And in the short term, you can expect to be cheated and scammed at least once or twice a year by your own employer and – or agent/recruiter. First, you must know the 90% rule:

“90% of the employers in China are honorable, fair and ethical, but 90% of the recruiters and China job agents are not.”

This is the gospel truth, and instead of trying to find one of the 10% that is honest, it is much faster and safer to apply directly to a China employer and not have to worry about identity theft, skimming, etc. As a recruiter for one year I was trained to only tell the job applicant what we wanted them to know and nothing more. We were also taught to avoid and evade certain facts and outright lie to prospects in order to get them excited enough to sign on the dotted line…

1. Foreign teachers are the best paid workers in China and $1 equals $6 rmb so you can live very well and comfortably in China. This article from China Daily newspaper tells the truth, and after you get to China you will be scrambling to find one or two roommates because the cost of an apartment in Beijing or Shanghai is half (or more) of your salary!

2. China is a safe place to live and work. Yes, there is very little violent crime but you cannot drink the tap water, and any new bicycle or IPhone you buy will be stolen, and the winter air is actually so toxic, Berkley researchers said you are better off smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, rather that breathe in Beijing!  Oh yeah…you have a 20% chance of catching Hepatitis in China which has the second highest infection rate in the world, and I caught it from a local Chinese girl I dated for a year. Luckily it is Hepatitis B and I can afford the $80 medicine every month.

3. You don’t really need a university degree to teach in China. Another lie, but since your agent will earn $500 to $5,000 for signing you up, he will sell you a beautiful fake diploma for $1,000 that cost him $100 to buy ($120 if you want an embossed gold seal). The fact is that the Chinese law requires you to have a real verifiable degree and they are now actually verifying academic credentials. If and when you get caught, this is what will happen to you.

4. The biggest and most common lie you will be told is that you do not need a Z visa (China work visa) for your first 90-day probationary period. The reason you are lied to about this is because most recruiters and China job agencies are not licensed nor registered with the Chinese government and therefore are not authorized to sponsor a Z visa for you. We are told to bring you in on an L, F, or M visa and let you worry about the expense and problems of getting a real visa. If your employer likes you and wants to keep you after 90 days they will either get you a fake Z visa or tell you to buy one on the black market for $3,000. But if and when yo get caught you will be arrested, jailed, and deported as a convicted felon and fined $2,000 before you are released from your 30-day jail visit in China. At present in 2017, the detection rate is about 50% compared to only 10% only 3 years ago.

5. Most of us were trained to tell job applicants that the brother, sister, uncle, or aunt of our company’s owner is a high ranking government official, so you need not worry about anything if you have a problem. This lie is often required for applicants who worry about having to lie on their visa application, or about not working without the Z visa required by Chinese law. But if you do in fact get arrested, you will not even be able to tell the police our real names, and office location, because we only gave you fake or Chinglish names that cannot be traced. You will be on your own, and we only need to change our mobile telephone numbers. If you are arrested/jailed and call your recruiter for help, he/she will tell you to hire a lawyer, and then block your number.

China-Sichuan (2)

Aside from the lies, you will never be told that you have to pay double taxes in China – once in China and again in your own America, Canada, or UK. Instead, you will be told how easy it is to get laid, buy weed, party, and how cheap the beer is. (This part is true) Here is more of what we were not allowed to tell China job applicants.

We use a lot of “blind ads” to post really great jobs that do not really exist. This is how we get hundreds of resumes to pour in. So don’t expect to get that $50,000 job with a free furnished apartment and week-ends off because Marianne fabricated it as she does so very well. She posts about 5 of these wonderful ads every day. You will see them posted all over at,,, and eslcafe where we advertise the most. These are the ads that get everyone interested in working in China to begin with. We sold job dreams to people, and the owner of *** earned over $3 million last year. We grunts on the phone earned about $40,000 each after taxes but we only had to work 4 days a week. Not bad for lying I suppose. But my conscience got the better of me eventually. So here I am trying to redeem myself I guess..

Don’t think that there is a BBB or FTC in China to help you if you get cheated. Even the police will laugh at you for being so stupid to get cheated. Why? Read this about China’s “Legal Scams”

I have personally decided to move to Singapore where I can actually breathe clean air and drink clean water and earn five times more salary than in China. Even though the cost of living is double, I still come out ahead.

So if you or a good friend that you care about wants to work in China, share this article with them and give them just 3 links to prepare them for the truth, because they will not hear it from their selfish, greedy, but “friendly and helpful” agents: and, and

China is a fun place to visit (during the summer months) because of all the great food, incredible tourist sites, and friendly people, but if you expect to save money working there, take a pass. I was just one of the 1,000 expats forced to work and lie for a black recruiting agency just to pay my bills. [b]Please remember the 90% rule.

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