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Chinese Girl Cheated Out Of 6,500 Renminbi

No matter in which country you are, it is always best to be vigilant and protect yourself. In China, too, one cannot blindly trust strangers, however nice and kind they appear to be. The immense power of the Communist state makes violent street crime unlikely. Yet villains have another, less conspicuous way of committing unlawful activities: scams.

Scams targeting both locals and tourists are particularly popular in China. Scammers rely on their ability to convince others to give them what they want, without violence, and often leaving no evidence.

As Chinese media reported, on July 18 "Xiaoli" (fictitious name), a female university student from Hebei province, took a train from Shijiazhuang to Luoyang, in Henan province, where she was to take part in a volunteer programme during the summer vacation. 

When she arrived at her destination, she waited at an exit of Luoyang train station for a friend who was coming to pick her up. While she was there, a middle-aged man in his forties approached her and struck up a conversation. The man was of average build and was wearing a pink T-shirt.

After Xiaoli explained to him why she had come to Luoyang, the man claimed that he, too, would be taking part in the summer programme, and that he also was waiting for the same person who was supposed to pick up Xiaoli. He therefore suggested that they waited together.

After a while, the man received a phone call. As soon as he hung up, he told Xiaoli that he needed money urgently and asked her if she could lend him some, promising he would give it back as soon as possible. Xiaoli became suspicious. Noticing her resistance, the man said she should call their common friend and he would explain him everything.

Xiaoli called her friend. The man gestured her to give him the phone. Standing next to her, he talked to their common friend for a while and then hung up. As soon as she realised he really knew her friend, Xiaoli gave the man her bank card and password. After he had withdrawn money from an ATM, he said that he had to go somewhere to make a money transfer. 

'Wallet'
(Photo courtesy of Saad Akhtar, licenced under Creative Commons)

While the man was away, Xiaoli once again began to have doubts about his intentions. She went to check her bank account and found out that 6,500 renminbi had been withdrawn, and only 300 renminbi were left. Later she also noticed that her mobile phone had been switched to the airplane mode. She realised that the stranger had not really talked to her friend. He had ended the call immediately after she had passed him her mobile phone, and had just pretended to be having a conversation. 

Xiaoli reported the crime to the police, who launched an investigation. Although she was sad over the loss of her money, she decided to take part in the summer programme nevertheless. The police meanwhile reminded young people not to trust strangers, especially whenever money is concerned.  

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