empty glasses

Shanghai Teahouse Targeted Foreigners in Extortion Scam

Some clients forced to pay over RMB 30,000

The owner of a Shanghai teahouse and his staff have been jailed for their part in a “honeypot” extortion scam targeting foreigners.

The Hongkou District People’s Court convicted four people involved in the scam, sentencing them to prison terms of between 18 and 42 months and fines between RMB 3,000 and 7,000.

The owner, Xue, used women to lure foreign customers to the teahouse, and then threatened them with violence unless they agreed to pay exorbitant bar tabs.

Last April, Xue opened the unnamed teahouse on Shanghai’s Daming Road. He employed a woman, Zhong, to lure foreign men into the teahouse and serve them, while two men, Zhang and Gao, physically bullied the customers into paying the grossly inflated bar tabs.

The first foreigner that fell for the scam occurred the day after the teahouse opened. A Dutch citizen, identified only as “L”, was lured to the teahouse by Zhong late in the evening. As soon as he sat down, Zhong sent two female escorts to accompany him into a private room. After L drank four cans of Tsingtao beer, Xue took Zhang and Gao to confront L. The trio forced L to pay a RMB 30,000 bill for numerous incidentals including a “private room fee”.

Despite his protests, L eventually paid Xue RMB 32,960 (over $5,000).

A German national, referred to as “R”, suffered a similar fate. Xue and his cronies forced R to pay RMB 6,000 for the pleasure of drinking three cans of Tsingtao. Later that evening, an American identified as “D”, was forced to pay RMB 6,000 for a beer, two colas, and two mixed drinks. This time, the police were notified and caught Xue and his henchmen in the act.

Police were alerted to Xue’s bar after being tipped-off by a member of the public. Police have warned foreigners to take precautions before walking into strange teahouses, certainly good advice for anyone to follow.

Charles Liu

The Nanfang's Senior Editor