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What the Broken Vase Scam Is, and How to Avoid Being Duped

Posted: 09/15/2014 9:00 am

broken vase trick scam

Oh, China. Foreigners and Chinese people alike fall for your many scams and get-rich-quick schemes.

One scam, identified as the “broken vase”, was recently caught on video in Shenzen. Although it can take a number of forms, all it really requires is a staged accident or collision to dupe a motorist into believing that he or she is responsible for causing injury or damage. It can be as simple as crawling under a stopped bus or as brazen as intimidating drunk drivers with a car full of surly men.

A  surveillance video caught one such incident in Shanghai’s Jiuting, Songjiang District. As explained by the Shenzhen Traffic Police, the “broken vase” scam has many participants playing different roles.

broken vase trick scam

Step One: The Instigation - A driver drives very slowly to frustrate the car behind him. Notice how the silver, instigating car is travelling at the same speed as the bicycle (the “broken vase”) to its right.

broken vase trick scam

Step Two: The Overtake - The frustrated motorist driving the black car decides to overtake the instigating car by passing to its right.

broken vase trick scam

Step Three: The Collision - While passing, the black car’s driver is presumably focused to his left. This is when the cyclist purposely collides with the black car.

broken vase trick scam

Step Four: The Fall. The cyclist falls and claims to be injured because the driver decided to overtake the slower vehicle. The driver is unable to defend himself and will (likely) be willing to pay the money asked by the “broken vase”. During the confrontation between the driver and the cyclist, witnesses (who are usually a part of the scam) often show up to help the “broken vase”.

Here’s the entire scam caught in a GIF:

broken vase trick scam

Scams in China depend on simplicity to be effective, but, it should be remembered that there is usually more than one or two people involved. Hopefully, a little knowledge of the trick’s mechanics will prevent further marks from being duped.

Photos: Shenzhen Traffic Police


Guangzhou Drunk Drivers Extorted in Staged Collisions

Posted: 06/6/2014 12:29 pm

drunk driving broken vase guangzhouThe “broken vase tactic” (碰瓷) is a notorious practice in which traffic collisions are staged in order to extort money. Feared by many Chinese drivers, this unscrupulous tactic has now found itself a new mark in Guangzhou—the drunk driver.

The public security bureau of Baiyun District, in conjunction with the Guangzhou police, have caught three members of an extortion ring that targeted drunk drivers by waiting for them at the front of restaurants, reports iFeng.

Two cases have come to light that showed this gang in action.

On March 6, Mr Chen and a client were out for a late snack near Wanda Hotel in Baiyun District; both men had been drinking alcohol. At 10pm, Chen got into his car and had started driving 300 meters towards Airport Road when he got into a collision with a black Toyota Camry. Exiting his car, Chen noticed that the front bumper of the Camry fell off. Chen later told reporters, “However, my own car didn’t have any problems, and that’s how I knew I was the victim of a ‘broken vase’ trick.”

The four male occupants in the Camry all accused Chen of being drunk and demanded he pay RMB 30,000 in compensation. Chen refused, and called for the police. Chen had a sobriety test when the police arrived; judged to be legally drunk, Chen was charged with drunk driving. However, the driver of Camry continued to ask for compensation, suing Chen for RMB 9,000.

In another incident, Mr Lu, a company manager, was out dining at an eatery near Qifu Road on March 8 and had also been drinking. At around 10pm, after driving 100 meters from the restaurant, Lu was hit from behind by another car. When Lu got out, he saw that it was a black Toyota Camry with multiple people in it who all accused him of drunk driving.

Lu tried to flee the scene, but was closely followed by the black Camry. However, Lu lost control of his vehicle at Guangyuan West Road and collided with a flower pot road divider. Lu was beaten by the occupants of the Camry and demanded Lu pay RMB 60,000 in compensation. Ultimately, they alerted police who charged Lu with driving under the influence of alcohol. Due to a fight that broke out between the two parties, Lu and the driver of the Camry were taken back to the police station.

There, police identified the driver of the black Camry as Lan X Rong*, 30 years-old and originally hailing from Yingde, Guangdong. Lan was discovered to have been involved in over 10 accidents from November to December last year that were all collisions with drunk drivers.

Lan confessed to targeting drunk drivers to extort in a plan that started in the second half of 2013.

* X signifies information that was not published in the report

Photo: iFeng



Guangdong man, who has been terrorizing Chinese nationals in Venezuela, is captured

Posted: 02/16/2013 10:46 am

The reign of terror brought upon Chinese nationals in Venezuela may soon be over.

A Guangdong man, who is thought to be the king in a major crime ring operating in the South American country, has arrived back in his home province after being captured, deported and sent back to China in cuffs.

Xi Mouwei, 26, is suspected of heading a 10-strong criminal gang using kidnappings, robberies and extortion to terrorize Chinese expats, often demanding $100,000 in ransoms.

According to the BBC:

He is reported to have gone to Venezuela at the age of 16 and turned to crime when his business struggled.

It’s believed the gang had been active for about a year.

With the help of the Venezuelan authorities, Xi was snared earlier this month and eventually brought back to join two other alleged accomplices arrested in the province.

A special nine-member task force was sent to Venezuela to investigate crimes being committed after the Chinese embassy contacted Beijing about “dozens of cases” involving their citizens.

The Washington Post adds:

China is keen to be seen as being capable of protecting its citizens abroad and punishing those who commit violent crimes overseas.

Guangdong police are leading further investigations into this case.

Picture: Keith Allison/Flickr


Dongguan taxi drivers forced to pay RMB92,000 in “tea money” fee

Posted: 08/29/2012 11:40 am

While Guangdong continues to experiment with legal reforms, particularly as it relates to small business and private investment, many of China’s old business traditions remain alive and well. One such tradition is that of “tea money”. For those unfamiliar with the practice, tea money is a bribe used to facilitate a business deal, notably in the hotel and service industry. According to a report in the Yangcheng Evening News, it is also quite common within the taxi industry.

Last year, Guangzhou taxi driver Lao Wang complained that in order to acquire a contract extension with the company he was driving for, he was obliged to pay a RMB20,000 – RMB30,000 hidden fee. When the story broke in the media, public outrage drew further attention to the issue, and eventually a police investigation followed.

The story in Dongguan however is quite different. According to the Yangcheng News report, the He Xing Transport Company (和兴运输公司) has been charging Dongguan taxi drivers substantially more than their Guangzhou neighbours.

There are currently 50 cab drivers working for He Xing who are obliged to surrender their old cabs this year due to servicing requirements, and then apply for a new one. The application process can take as long as four months. The wait, however, is the least of the cab drivers’ worries. The manager of He Xing Transport has imposed a RMB92,000 fee which must be paid before the new cabs will be released to their drivers. According to the manager, RMB80,000 is for a “vehicle deposit”, although no formal records of the deposit are kept. The manager provided no explanation for the remaining RMB12,000.

While tipping Dongguan taxi drivers isn’t exactly customary, if you come across one of the 50 drivers who will soon have to pay the tea money, perhaps you might want to make an exception.



Zhongshan crooks kidnap and extort local merchant while impersonating police officers

Posted: 05/18/2012 7:00 am

Being kidnapped and extorted a few million RMB would be considered an incredibly bad day by anyone’s standards. According to the Southern Metropolis Daily however, in a truly bizarre series of events, a Zhongshan man was extorted not once but twice by the same man.

In October of 2006, clothing merchant Tan Mouxiong’s business was losing money, and he found himself in the unfortunate position of having to borrow from a loan shark. When Tan was unable to repay the debt, he decided to kidnap a wealthy member of his own clan, identified as Tanmou, for the purposes of extortion. Yet rather than covertly grab the fellow clan member, Tan and his accomplice, Xiaomou, conceived of something much more elaborate: impersonate police officers.

In January 2007, after months of tracking Tanmou’s whereabouts, Tan and Xiaomou purchased police uniforms, handcuffs, batons, and even a car disguised as an official police vehicle. They then set out one evening and stopped Tanmou on the street, demanding that he get into the car. When the man resisted, Tan and Xiaomou tried to physically restrain him. It was at this time that two patrolling security guards who witnessed the event got involved; however, the guards didn’t assist Tanmou. Assuming the two men impersonating police officers were legitimate, the guards helped handcuff the victim, and put him into the back of the “police car”.

Once kidnapped, the two men drove Tanmou all the way to Tan’s girlfriend’s apartment in Huangpu District, Guangzhou. There they robbed the man of  20,000RMB, before calling his wife and demanding 3,000,000 more for his release. While Tanmou’s wife agreed to pay the sum, she also alerted police. Thankfully, the police were able to rescue the man, and capture Xiamou but Tan escaped with the money.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there. Only a few months later, Tan once again contacted Tanmou, demanding more money. Fearing for his safety, Tanmou sent Tan another 50,000RMB. Eventually however, guilt got the better of Tan and after almost six years, he turned himself into police this past January. He was arraigned earlier this week in the Zhongshan People’s Court, where he pled guilty to extortion and kidnapping. He has since returned much of the extorted funds and has asked the court for leniency: “I am sorry to the victims and their families” he said. No word yet on sentencing.

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