Any foreigner living and working in China for even a few months knows there are no shortage of scams and frauds in China. Most all of these scams target foreigners abroad that are fed up with failing economies and are looking for jobs. Google “Work In China” or “Intern in China” and you will literally be flooded with over 1,500 alluring ads with links to fancy web sites complete with videos, testimonials, and promises of a small fortune waiting for you in China. The problem is that most of these ads are bogus – posted online by the many self-proclaimed agents and recruiters whose only goal is to get you to sign a contract and get you on a plane to China ASAP. If they can accomplish this objective, they will earn an average of $7,000 to $10,000 for everyone they can fool.
These agents and recruiters will tell you you anything you want to hear but are very careful what they put in writing. They really don’t care what happens to you after you arrive in China and start working and thus they do not bother to tell you that you must have a university degree and a “Z” visa in order to work legally in China. They won’t tell you the truth about what your job really pays because they hope to steal half of your pay as their fee. There are honest agents and recruiters to be sure, but finding one is not easy and you’d find a 40 year old virgin in Brooklyn before you find an honest agent or recruiter in China.
This recruitment scam is just one of about 35 scams that target expat wannabe teachers and this is typically how it works… An unregistered and unlicensed recruiter will take a Principal out to lunch and offer to pay her or him $1,000 a month for their “cooperation”. This sum equals about one-third of their annual salary and very hard to resist. If the Principal agrees, and most do, the principal will refer any and all job inquiries to “Bill” our agent who will never use his real Chinese or English name. And Bill will now start posting dozens of ads on EchinaCities.com, TheBeijinger.com, ESLCafe.com a dozen other ESL and TEFL Forums and “Message Boards”. He will advertise many jobs and pose as a “direct employer” or even the schools “HR Director”. The jobs he advertises will typically pay 6,000 – 10,000 yuan per month. The real salaries being paid for the job are actually double however. Bill will keep the other 50% of the salary as his MONTHLY fee and will be sure to pay the Principal the promised $1,000 per month to keep the job vacancies coming exclusively to him. Off course the Principal i paid in cash to avoid any evidence.
When teachers arrive in China they have already signed a 1 year contract with Bill and some of them were gullible enough to let Bill hold their passports which he falsely told them “was a requirement of the school”. Eventually the teacher will find out the truth – that the agent is collecting half of their paycheck every month but they discover they are locked into a one year contract and if they quit may get blacklisted with other schools as a “trouble maker” or if the agent is a prick, will make sure the teacher’s visa in not renewed with a $100 bribe to a visa official, or not return the teacher’s visa until the day it expires. This is the basic and most common scam but there are many variations including those that are mentioned in this article: http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/beijing/blog/scam-alert-foreign-teacher-fraud/ The more a teacher reads BEFORE signing anything, BEFORE sending any money to anyone, and BEFORE sending copies of any identification document (passports, visas, diplomas, etc.) the less likely they are to be scammed. Many of these fake recruiters have no job to offer you at all but only want to obtain your personal information in order to sell to identity theft rings to make a quick $300. See: http://open.salon.com/blog/china_business_central/2013/03/13/phony_china_recruiters_now_target_5000_expats_monthly_1
There are also about two dozen companies offering pie-in-the sky internships that supposedly transform themselves into fantastic jobs. They also have some of the most convincing web sites, fake reviews, and testimonials that gave even fooled children of police officers in the past. Imagine having the privilege to pay almost $4,000 to come work for free in China! Yet over 3,000 victims take this bait every year. In reality some of these companies are in fact legitimate but they can be counted on one hand. To find out which are real and which are a scam, send an email to inquiry@ChinaScamPatrol.org and they will even tell you how to find your own China internships for free or almost free.
To be extra safe, you are welcome to check the blacklist of 239 China Schools and the 879 that are on the 2014 white list that we have posted on our web site which is updated every three months. It is essential that if you come to work in China you know exactly who you are working for before committing yourself in writing or exposing yourself to ID theft. You should also visit www.ChinaScamBusters.com to get a list of all the forums and message boards that allow scam agents and fake recruiters to advertise. Please take this post seriously and your stay in China will be more fun and memorable for all the right reasons – not the wrong ones! If however you make a mistake and find the below person looking at you in the mirror one day, please contact us and we will do our best to find a solution for your problem.
FYI: The CFTU is a non-profit organization established in 2010 of all volunteer expat teachers working in China for years. We do not sell, promote, nor advertise any product nor service and we have no religious nor political affiliations. Our primary missions is as an information service for our fellow expat teachers in China. We offer many free services and teacher resources as you can see here at the below link, but we do not offer legal advice. Please visit both of our websites before contacting us with any problem as we are swamped with over 200 emails every day. Most all of what you need will be found at http://www.ChinaForeignTeachers.com and http://www.ChinaForeignTeachers.org. As for the free tools and resources we provide please visit this link here… http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/beijing/events/activities/china-foreign-teachers-union-freebie-fun-day/