If you own any types of business, you have a chance to be scammed.
Kunming is a beautiful place in China famous for their nature, although I have never been there!
As an agent, I know that there are many performers eager to come to China to perform so I wrote this for you take caution. It is NOT that easy to complete a full event on your own in China.
Having just worked with the SM Mall in Xiamen and Chongqing Happy Valley, which is a stated fund owned themed park, I know the piles and piles of paperwork we need to clear before we can even get a work visa. Talents wanting to perform in China, I suggest you find and work with reputable agents and not try to close the deal yourself in China. If you do not how to handle it, you end up losing more, even with real companies.
Here’s the scam:
I didn’t fall for the scam, partly because:
- all deals in China is dealt by my company in China so this gave the scammers a red alert. (Me informing the scammers this probably led to them stop contacting me.)
- Secondly, a fellow magician, whom they contacted from the same website, Singapore Magicians Network was ‘confirmed’ by the scammers. Luckily, one of the performers this magician engaged got in touch with me. The interesting thing was that the dates were different from mine but to the same place.
- Thirdly, I was too busy with my other projects so I was dragging my feet to reply them.
- I don’t provide acrobats.
- I didn’t want to give a quotation unless I know what this event is about. So I wanted details which they had a difficult time trying to give me since there wasn’t any event! Eventually, when I knew that it was a scam, I tried to lead them on to find out more on how they work but in the end, they probably figured out and stopped contacting me.
The basic ruse goes like this:
- They will ask for a quotation.
- They will accept your quotation and send you a legit looking confirmation.
- They will ask you to send a contract. (At this time, I was trying to think of ways to ‘scam’ them back by wasting their time and asked them to do up the contract. That is probably also one of the reasons they stop emailing me.)
- they will ask you to come to Kunming to sign the contract.
- they will ask you to pay for expensive gifts/cigarettes to bribe the officials.
- upon returning, they say they have difficulties sending the down payment over so they asked you to pay them a sum first to release the funds.
The ruse is so convincing because:
- they will take a several days to decide on your quotation!
- they send a legit looking confirmation (but very generic looking. Since we do not ship things over, this gave me a red flag!)
- they gave a favourable payment terms.
- they didn’t ask you to pay anything upfront at first.
- they paid for your meals and send a car to pick you up.
How do they profit from the scam? Firstly are the cigarettes. They are overpriced! Secondly, the hotels which they asked you to book is overpriced so they will get a commission out of it. Thirdly, is the funds which you have to send over first before getting your down payment.
Why Kunming? I am guessing this is easier to pull off in a 3-tier city in China and this being a tourist town is great to attract businesses to here. Probably the provincial laws are pretty lax so even if you report to the police, you may not get the justice you want. I will not be surprised if the tourists in Kunming has gone through the jade scam and other shopping scams.
You can read about other’s experiences on this scam and most of them are big companies which dates back to 2010:
If you ever got scammed, let me know about it so I can let more people know so that nobody will get scammed.