It took me 4 years for me to mentally process that I was a victim this scam
Beijing tea house scam
How the Beijing Tea House/Shop Scam Works
Pick an obvious tourist from the crowd. Preferably one who is young, alone and fascinated with their surroundings. In this case me.
Find an innocent looking friend and approach your target with a smile full of Hellos.
Engage your target in conversation. Pretend to be fascinated by their adventure and repeatedly compliment them on their bravery. Go as far as calling them the most amazing person you’ve ever met.
Ask them if they want to experience a traditional Chinese tea house
Once inside the tea house order the most expensive teas for 3 people. While doing so engage your victim in conversation to distract them from the bizarre the situation
Order the bill and get up to go, leaving your victim with ¥600 (£60) to generously pay for tea
Share the profits between the owner of the tea house and your acquaintance. ¥200(£20) each may not seem like a lot but the cost of living back then was low. It was a decent hustle.
Why I didn’t pay a penny for the Beijing Tea House Scam
Those crooks didn’t get a penny out of me. I slightly realised something what’s going on once I was in the tea house but back then I was too shy to leave. The tea house was on a backstreet in the centre of Beijing. It was tiny, compact and smelled like wet dog. The girls did well to revert my attention back to our conversation which was oh so funny. Half way through us sipping tea I had been texting with the Chinese businessman I met on the overnight train from Mongolia. He wanted to meet for dinner with his family so I vaguely told him where I was. I didn’t know the name of the tea house or even location. I have no idea how he find me and so quick. All of a sudden he burst in and gave one disgusted look at my company, exchanged furious words with the owner and we left in his car for dinner. He later warned me to be very very careful and not to trust anyone. It took me years to process what happened, it was all so strange and rapid I didn’t get my head around it. One minute I was in Beijing square looking around with my mouth hanging open in awe and the next I was in a back alley Chinese tea house only to be rescued by Chinese superman.
There are many tourist scams in many countries and some which you may not realise is a scam. Unless you make friends with locals nobody will save you!
Beware of the Beijing Tea House scam!