GoKunming Forums

Kunming FRAUD

deceived (26 posts) • 0


We are looking for somebody who can help us or give a bit of guidance..

Unfortunately, we have been scammed.
Story of us is similar to this one here, targeting architecture companies:

We are small company, therefore it's quite painful and very personal issue..
We're currently in situation, where we have been in Kunming, given money to frauds and 'signed the contract'
I don't think they know, that we know just yet. We have been asked to transfer money to private account to pay some fees.

So we are thinking what to do next?

We don't know nothing about China, police contacts etc. does police system work? Any corrupted cops?

Can anybody help us to file the report and catch them?

We have many photographs of one of the guy, we can get name and account no. where they want us to make a transfer and location of the meeting (office city center)

Anxious to hear from somebody really soon!
And thanks in advance!

laotou (1714 posts) • 0

Suggest you discuss this with an attorney BEFORE you try to talk to the police. The attorney should have experience with both criminal cases and with civil cases.

Fraud is usually relegated to civil cases, as it's difficult for law enforcement (in any country) to discern who's the victim and who's the plaintiff, unless the action is overtly obvious, so recommend you discuss this with reputable attorneys with strong reputations working with foreigners and foreign companies.

Bluntly, assuming you've been scammed as in the referenced hyperlink, if you don't actually have an executed contract - you're probably out of luck, although you can try to sue for civil damages.

If you actually executed contracts with a fraudulent aka non-existent or not-legally-registered company - you MAY be able to request police assistance - but again you'll need to work with a reputable law firm.

FORTUNATELY, legal firms in China aren't (yet) as lavishly expensive as US law firms - however on the reverse, attorneys (and judges) can be bribed, so be careful you don't find yourself on the receiving end of even MORE trouble.

Regret to hear you've been victimized.

YuantongsiYuantongsi (716 posts) • 0

Getting a lawyer to go with you to report the case to the police is a nice thing to do as it may hinder this person doing the same thing again. Don't expect to get any money back.

You may also ask your consulate to help you report the case if you want to save on legal fees. You will need to make the report in person in Kunming. The consulate can at least help you to find the location of the foreign affairs police department.

laotou (1714 posts) • 0

Based on the references - I'm guessing the original poster got hosed buying expensive gifts, ostensibly to "purchase" guanxi - which are essentially unrecoverable...if not illegal if the guanxi is a government official or executive of a state owned enterprise (SOE).

I tend to FLEE from opportunities based on guanxi, as they're rarely sustainable, dubiously scalable, and always incredibly complicated with associated high risk.

Ask yourself this - if you actually manage to win a contract based on guanxi - how many other "guanxis" to you need to pay off with that contract and what kind of risks are those other guanxi-based contracts will they bring in to drag you down.

As an architectural and design firm - you may be "encouraged" to utilize local construction companies, design, companies, material supply companies - that list of relationships is some seriously deep water...

Bluntly - instead of going this yourselves - if you insist on playing in this complicated market with the dream of business expansion - you should align with a reasonably reputable firm and let THEM do the guanxi for you - with the heavy risk of circumvention (especially in Yunnan) and IP theft.

Nominal gifts are acceptable and part of doing business - wallets, stationery, branded mugs, leather folders, etc. Springing for seriously expensive gifts "as a show of respect" is utter cow manure and tantamount to bribery, collusion, and coercion.

If it smells like a barn...chances are really strong there's something poopy at the source.

Long-Dragon (390 posts) • 0

This is a common fraud in China in numerous industries. The local police busted a coal commodities fraud group of crooks operating in Kunming and it was shown on local TV. A USA maker of pallets was defrauded here a few years ago. We turned in a Changsha crooked company to the police about 3 years ago. Our cleints lost no money because they asked us first. The consulates hear about this all the time. These so called companies never have real business licenses just fake ones. The offices are rented or belong to "friends". They move from city to city. They work foreign firms by offering to buy what ever products being offered and suck them into China after the foreign firm has spent alot of effort to bid and get the work or sell a product. Then its time for the request for cash to get the job to buy gifts for some manager or leader. The foreign firm NEVER asks for help from local knowledgable foreign companies or persons. At least not until its too late. You can report them to the local police. The Police do get them sometimes but you need to do it in Chinese.We have local lawyers you can work with. You will very probably not get any money back and of course no work. There are decent proper construction management firms in Kunming too.

deceived (26 posts) • 0

Hello all,

I really appreciate all replies to this matter!
We lost about 4500usd (27.300 yuan) for this fraud, as we were asked to buy a 'present' to 3 government leaders, like was mentioned in this thread as well.
So of course, they wanted all in cash, but we only had 1500usd, which we gave after 'signing' the contract in 'their office', in centre on Kunming (I also took notes of the address, which I need to find first..)

Rest of it we spend by credit card, by going together with 'financial manager' to the local Kunming department store to buy some cigarettes. I also took a photo 'just for fun' of the huge bag of cigarettes. So we have a trace of that purchase as well.
As they are requesting more money to be transferred to their personal account (as bank fees are high, like they said), I asked to give me full details, which they did this morning. Now we also have a name and a bank account of one of them.

I think it's identity theft of one of the Kunming's construction companies, because they have sent me all documents (which I forwarded to Chinese embassy to get business visas), they also had everything (pens, papers, business cards) marked with same data – name of the company etc.

We really would like to catch them, as to be honest, it hurts, A lot. But taking a lawyer and spending even more, doesn't help us at all, maybe somebody else in the future, as like most of here said, we won't be getting anything back. So I don't really know what to do. I'll contact embassy as well, maybe they have some ideas how to proceed. Still, I'm pretty certain, that we weren't only ones, hopefully others won't fall into that scam, but I'm not that sure about that either.

What made us believe in this project was how they presented themselves, they know a lot about construction and design, also large scale projects, so they must have connections in that field. Also, they sent us AutoCAD files and 3D visuals of houses they wanted to build.

More details, we had translator as we don't speak any Chinese, a young girl, who studies English in Kunming university, seemed that she was related to one of the scammers, but not sure she knew what she was doing. We also had a driver (we have lots of photos of him) who even took us sightseeing before we left China and drop us off to the airport. Not sure that he knew about the scam either, or maybe he did, but was overconfident?

What else, man, who seemed to be main leader, escorted us (with translator and driver) to our hotel and had a chat with the manager because we had some issues with checking-in (we arrived too early, 7am in the morning), so he might recognize him. Hotel was Intercontinantal Kunming, so big and trustworthy chain.

Not sure what guanxi is, but our 'gift' to them was cigarettes.

tigertiger - moderator (5089 posts) • 0

I would put it down to experience. USD4300 is not a lot of money, in the scheme of things. It would probably cost more to actually get it back. It will also consume a lot of emotional energy that will just eat a hole in you, and that energy could be better spent on building your business.
Yes it is a crappy pill to have to swallow, but being cheated is pretty standard here in the Big C. You will here of lots of locals who are also cheated, ripped off, etc.

As for the guy being super friendly, that is what confidence tricksters do to get your confidence.

Long-Dragon (390 posts) • 0

Dear Deceived,
They are probably crooks. They are cheating others like you from all over the world. They will continue to follow a path of extorting money from you in any pieces they can. The company things you saw are cheap things to make here. Anyone who is Chinese can easily setup a personal bank account and easily close it.
If you want to BUST them or try to get your money back which is very unlikely you will have to spend more money for help in Chinese here. Frankly if you want our help to do something send us all the info you have. We can go talk to them. We can check them out for you which is what you should have done in the beginning before you came.
You can report them to your consulate or embassy. I do not know which country you are from. The USA consulate is in Chengdu The British one is in Chong Qing. You can report them to the local police.
What may I ask did they pay for? The Hotel? Airfare? or more likely a few meals? Did you get any Fa Piao or official receipts? Guangxi is about relationships.
The translators are often innocent college kids hired with no knowledge of what they are doing.
I would not send them any more money.

Silvio DaVinci (282 posts) • 0

That's why people should read and research before just doing things.
Just looking on here gives you an idea of other people wanting to do any real-estate / business projects and some post about scams to give you a rough idea. If you do research in the USA or Europe, why not China?

Good thing: you have photos and details as evidence (it goes a little way)

1) Best option: still talk to a lawyer as recommended above.

2) Secondly: you probably won't get your money back as it's only a year's rent of a flat. Not even anywhere close to the money you needed to buy / invest in a (new) property (if that's what you were planning to do. You'd need 20x that to even consider a single unit property development (without purchase). For a real-estate project at its smallest size, think x200 your 4.5K payment.

3) Please be more specific of what your project / idea was so people can actually make founded suggestions. Rather than ramble on and on.

4) If you still intend to do anything like look for a house / apartment / business place, interior decoration or investment, do your research and ask around. I mean, you did find gokunming.com.

I don't just post my information and company on here for nothing. We probably have the oldest design and decoration company in Yunnan.

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