A good number of professional con artists target tourists – especially in places such as Shanghai, Beijing and Guilin – with variations on the following scam. A sweet-looking young couple, a pair of girls, or perhaps a kindly old man, will ask to practise their English or offer to show you round. Having befriended you – which may take hours – they will suggest some refreshment, and lead you to a teahouse, art gallery or restaurant. After eating or drinking, you will be presented with a bill for thousands of yuan, your new “friends” will vanish, and some large gentlemen will appear – who in some cases have forced people into handing over their card and PIN and raiding their bank account before letting them go. It‘s hard to believe just how convincing these scam artists can be: never eat or drink with a stranger unless you know how much you’re expected to pay.


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