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

Charles Liu January 25, 2015 12:33am (updated)

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

Charles Liu

The Nanfang's Senior Editor