Thursday, December 4, 2014

Shanghai Scammers: 'Please take our photo'

We'd read about it so we were somewhat prepared. Still, when a young Chinese woman approached us on the Bund and asked if we would take her photo with her cellphone, we agreed, wondering if it was simply an innocent request, and of course wanting to be good ambassadors and not appear unfriendly.

After the photo, though, came the questions about where we were from and what we planned to do. We disengaged and moved along. No more than 20 minutes later, an attractive young couple asked if we would take their photo in front of a thoroughly boring bank building. This time we disengaged more quickly and decisively.

The next two instances occurred near People's Park. Brian actually took their photo as a joke and then told them we were behind schedule because of all of the locals asking us to take their photos.

On the fourth and final such attempt, we simply said "No, we're too busy," as bluntly as we gather Chinese people would treat such a request.

Oh, and what's the scam? After the foreign tourists have been "befriended," there's an invitation to attend an authentically lovely tea ceremony. Once that unfolds, the tourists are presented with a bill for US $200 or more (another locale can be a bar, introducing alcohol and impaired judgment).

We didn't see that many other white tourists yesterday, and that no doubt led to our encounters, but four in one short day - seriously!

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