The “broken vase” trick is a scam in China where con artists feign being accident victims in order to win cash settlements from unsuspecting people that think they are at fault. It’s an old scam with many variations, and it’s a main reason why Chinese people are usually more than reluctant to help anyone in need, lest they became victims of fraud themselves.
Adding to the number of savvy Chinese that can spot such a scam, Weibo user “Piggy Sister That Doesn’t Want To Grow Up” published pictures that show “a clear and brazen case of the broken vase scam”.
The photographs show a man with an injured leg in the middle of the road outside the Nanjing Red Cross Society Hospital on the morning of September 17. A three-wheeled vehicle idles beside him as pedestrians and cyclists simply pass the fallen man.
When a non-Chinese man wearing dark green clothes comes forward to give help, he is criticized for having fallen for the “broken vase” scam. Of this, the Weibo user said, “The laowai can never understand…”
Many local shop owners said the incident happened after 7am when a non-Chinese man was seen speaking to the victim. Then he left, according to a reporter.
“Reminded Me of My Mother”
The reporter was able to track down the would-be good samaritan, a 30-something expat from the USA named “Sam” (a pseudonym) who is currently working in Nanjing. Sam said seeing the victim reminded him of his own mother, who was recently involved in a traffic accident herself.
However, Sam said he became very doubtful when he saw bystanders gathering to laugh at him. One bystander waved a hand at him and shouted, “No, no, no!”
Sam was not able to communicate with the man, who would only cover his forehead with his left hand and sporadically let out a shrill cry of pain. Sam saw he couldn’t do anything, so left. He said he couldn’t understand why the bystanders were trying to get him to stop.
“Broken Vase” or No “Broken Vase”?
For this to be a “broken vase” scam, the con artist would try to blame the fraud victim (Sam) for the accident and attempt to extort money, which didn’t happen. However, local Nanjing residents were still suspicious because the incident happened just outside of a hospital.
The Yueya Lake police sub-station confirmed the incident was not a “broken vase” scam, but something else entirely.
The story is this: Police from the Yueya Lake sub-station responded to a burglary at 1pm at Zhonghe Bridge after a man fell from a second story apartment. This unidentified man was not confirmed to be a thief, and was taken to Nanjing Red Cross Society Hospital to treat his broken leg.
The police say the unnamed man blamed police for the fall, and wants them to pay his hospital bill. Upon being discharged, the man lay down in the middle of the road as a way to claim his rights.
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