How To: Avoid Employment Scams in China

How To: Avoid Employment Scams in China
Jul 04, 2016 By Susie Gordon ,

China scams. We all know ’em. The legendary tea house ruse, the note-switching barman, the dodgy taxi driver… But there’s a whole dark world of employment skulduggery out there too, which can be far more damaging than getting forced into buying a rip-off painting from an “art student” outside the Forbidden City. Use the seven tips below and you’ll never fall victim to a job scam in China.

How to spot and avoid china job scams
Photo: ToastyKen

1) Research, research, research
The internet has spawned a hell of a lot of scams, but on the flip side, it’s the best way of uncovering them too. A simple Google (or Baidu) search on a company’s name should bring up plenty of information. Try prefacing the name with “scam” or “dodgy” to see if there is anything out there from disgruntled employees. If it’s an English school you’re applying to, ask around your friends and roommates to see if they know anyone who works there. Word of mouth is a great thing. Get as much detail as you can about complaints. Former employees are not always completely partial, or forthcoming about how and why they left the company. Some companies are good at one thing and not so good at another – there are well-liked visa companies whose recruitment departments get low marks and plenty of complaints. Knowledge is power, the more you know about the situation the better of you are.

2) Simple professionalism
If the company’s website doesn’t look quite right, or if they don’t have one at all, alarm bells should start to ring. Do they have permanent premises? Are their email addresses official company ones, or Hotmail? Any business worth its salt should at least have company email addresses. Make sure you meet your potential employer face to face, and visit their office. If it’s a room in a residential apartment somewhere, it probably isn’t legit.

3) If it looks like a con, it probably is one
Don’t be conned into believing that you deserve a massive salary for zero work. No offense, but if you’re not an experienced CEO, you’re not going to get the pay check and bonuses of a CEO. Many people are tricked into accepting jobs with guarantees of six figure sums and flashy business trips when they don’t even have a Bachelor’s degree. Back in the day, a European passport may have been a carte blanche to a beefy salary and perks, but not anymore.

Unfortunately, the influx of wannabe English teachers has spawned a legion of unscrupulous language schools that will rip employees off and trick them into signing contracts with little pay and huge hours. If you’re suspicious, shop around for average salaries offered by established English schools for your level, then compare and contrast. If they’re offering you 20,000 RMB a month while English First offers 13,000 for the same position, something ain’t right.

4) A fool and his money…
… as the saying goes, are soon parted. Don’t be a fool. Don’t wire money to anyone you haven’t met face to face, and completely trust. To be honest, it’s a better idea not to wire money to anyone, ever, unless it’s your mum. The same goes for your passport details (and, of course, your passport itself). You should never have to stump up any money – as the employee, you should be getting the money, not the employer. Never agree to pay up front for “training materials”. Recently I was offered some editing work by an unscrupulous web company who wanted me to pay them US$350 for a training manual. If I bought and read the document, they would guarantee me a steady flow of work. “Can’t you deduct the cost from my wages?” I asked. “No.” they replied. “Why not?” I asked. “Company policy.” Hmm.

5) Keep it legal
Hiring a lawyer to check through a contract may sound a bit extreme, but it could end up saving your skin, and a lot of money in the long run. Especially if your contract is solely in Chinese, getting a lawyer to look over it and explain it to you will put your mind at rest. And if your potential employer isn’t happy about you doing this, that’s a good sign that they shouldn’t be trusted anyway.

6) Don’t be pressured
A crooked company bent on scamming you may pressure you to sign a contract after the interview. Don’t do it. Legitimate companies will give you some time to think about their offer; dodgy ones won’t want to give you a chance to see their flaws.

7) Devious recruiters
It isn’t just underhanded employers you have to watch out for. Middlemen like agents and recruiters can scam too. Some recruiters don’t actually have any contacts with companies; they simply send emails out to their database and hope that someone bites, charging you commission in the process. Likewise, agents for acting and modelling jobs often skim off more than is fair when it comes to fees, leaving you with a paltry sum for your day’s work. This is where speaking Mandarin comes in useful. The more you know, the more you can go solo, without the help of an agent or recruiter.

So what can you do if you’ve already fallen for a scam? It depends on the nature of the ruse. If you’ve signed a contract, you’ll need to use a lawyer to get you out of it, and you could end up paying severance costs. If you’ve wired money, it’s very possible that you’ll never see it again.
Remember – forewarned is forearmed. Use these seven tips, and a degree of common sense, and you’ll avoid falling for job scams in China.

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Keywords: China . employment scams echinacities


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ie use your common sense, people

Aug 04, 2016 12:55 Report Abuse



I wish I knew before I came. This has happen to me with Harbridge Educational Company they are aweful they promis you everything and at the end you go without receiving the money they told you and with a lot of shit that you have had to go through because of them

Jul 29, 2016 11:41 Report Abuse



Perhaps not so much the best example of a "scam" per se, but nevertheless an example where China and Chinese employers make their own laws: Had a two-year contract, fancied leaving after one year, resigned in accordance with the contract (i.e. legally and I therefore did NOT break the contract, contrary to what the school purported later). After spending time back home, got a job offer from a new school (much better conditions than old school, but that's besides the point), but old school refused to hand out release documents, saying "I broke contract". Pointed out repeatedly than resigning within the conditions of the contract does NOT constitute a breach of contract, but felt like arguing with a brick wall. The new employer even confirmed that some Chinese schools use the release document transfer rule to abuse the system and "punish" teachers for not fulfilling their shitty contracts. Quite shocking!

Jul 14, 2016 20:29 Report Abuse



Good read

Jul 06, 2016 13:41 Report Abuse



Well done EChinaCities. This article is over 6 years old - a new record!

Jul 04, 2016 15:57 Report Abuse



13,000 RMB at English First, seems low. At least 15 to 18 k, would be the competitive salary range in Big cities

Jul 04, 2016 13:25 Report Abuse



no such thing as an honest, ethical employer

Jul 04, 2016 12:52 Report Abuse



if they ask for a copy of your resume, is that ok?

Aug 22, 2012 13:27 Report Abuse



I am sorry a copy of your passport, not your resume. Is that safe? Can I leave my passport number out(Black it out)?

Aug 24, 2012 12:18 Report Abuse



Giving a copy of your passport is ok. But if they want your real passport then be careful. That's the only ID anyone will acknowledge in this country. You'll be arrested without it. Make sure to keep a copy for yourself in case of emergencies.

Jul 08, 2016 13:19 Report Abuse



I was invited to teach in EDENVALE International English school in Shenmu, This a a place near Xian, In Yulin. Shaanxi Province. There are two Chinese Boss for this School, English name is Jennifer and Liza. They have two Chinese Staff named Snow and Anny who are helping them. The complete subject began like this...They promised me a salary of 8000/-RMB. and an accommodation also a work Visa. When I reached there, I was so impressed the way they treated me. Everything changed when it came to my salary date. They Want me to walk up and down with them to give away flyers. They are not ready to pay my salary and they told me they can pay only 6000/-RMB. Which they delayed every month. They promised to pay me after I complete 6 months. I agreed coz Shenmu is very far and To shift back, I need to pay a lot of money. Later it came to my visa issue, they kept me waiting until the last 10 days of expiry which they promised me to take care of all the expenses and finally they told me they cannot do. Its was a real shock, none of the Boss had guilty conscious and their attitude was very rude. They never paid nor supported. I did my visa myself and the most biggest and tragic Highlight I like to share is the school was inspected and I was taken to the police station, they treated me very rudely. I never knew what is the problem, then a kind officer told me that this an unlicensed school. I almost had a heart attack. The officer after keeping me in the station for long 7 hours, released me and asked me to leave the city in next two days. Me with my family was so upset. I asked for my due salary, the bosses completely ignored, I told them I have a contract. They told me to go to the police station coz they have no interest to pay. Literally broken, we left the city.
The biggest joke is that before me there are several teachers cheated by these Bosses.
Dear Freinds, my intention of this post to be aware of those cheats. There are lot of unauthorized school, do not trust their contract.
The School Address Once again-- EDENVALE International English School, Shenmu, Near YULIN, XIAN. Shaanxi Province...BEware Friends...

Aug 17, 2012 23:16 Report Abuse



Well, very interesting and exciting reading for a Newcomer ! Thank you.
Does anyone know , does any Foreign Embassy have a shortlist of Trustworthy schools and recruiters (of foreign teachers) ? Thanks

Aug 17, 2012 09:39 Report Abuse



try putting in the name of the school in google.
Do a search/trawl through 'Daves ESL Cafe' [search], which has a page dedicated to China.

Aug 18, 2012 10:42 Report Abuse



is there someone knowing that how to find the job opportunity in the USA or other English speaking countries? Thx!

Jun 12, 2012 06:38 Report Abuse



While I don't know about how to 'officially' report dodgeyness in China (certainly not to the extent of anything happening to a school), you can - and SHOULD - post your experiences on the various ESL forums out there. When you post, give precise details, and FACTS - don't just go on a massive emotional rant!

Anyone who chooses to up and move country for a job would be STUPID not to at least do a bit of research before coming.

Also, if you do get scammed, let your embassy know - they may at least keep a list of those dodgey schools, agents and employers so that others don't get scammed in the future (if, of course, someone bothers to ask them).

OTOH, if you come and get a GOOD job, with a GOOD school or company, also write that up on the ESL forums... part of the reason people are still questioning about a job or school is because no-one has said that they're actually good! So, when someone goes searching, they find nothing... which is entirely NOT helpful!

Like any job, anywhere.. if they are 'pressuring' you, there's a problem. As the article says, there are far more jobs out there than candidates. And, if the school is legit, then they should be VERY happy to let you contact the other teachers already there to chat with.

But, as I said, best thing to do before coming - CHECK THE ESL FORUMS FIRST!!!!!!

Oct 05, 2011 20:38 Report Abuse


in china

how would i go about reporting being screwed over in china by an employer? i want to get the word out so people know about this shady school.

Oct 01, 2011 04:10 Report Abuse



So what to do when you are a victim of these scams? Is there a website you can list them on? Or is the magnitude of the problem just too huge to be addressed?

eChinacities were notified earlier this year about an Australian company, AITH, that had been found by Chinese and Australian authorities d to be issuing fake Australian Advanced Diplomas in Chengdu (at CDUT) and other cities. eChinacities promptly removed the adverisements about the Chengdu positions (because there were Chinese court transcripts and letters from Australian Government Ministers about that school).

But the same Australian company is also scam-recruiting and issuing the same fake Diplomas in Nantong, but the recruitment advertisement has not been removed.

Further, the company simply changed names, and was again allowed to advertise on eChinacities for the same Chengdu University. Same people, same Chinese school, just a different name.

Also, posts about this company by a number of ex-teachers were posted on ESL Watch, but magically disappeared when reported to Education authorities.

While companies such as eChinacities and ESLWatch try their best to protect expats, it seems it is just too rampant to control.

This is not helped by the fact that, as with AITH, many companies have expat recruiters quite happy to make false promises to trusting expats. Sort of like the Jews that processed other Jews into the gas chambers during WWII.

Sep 21, 2011 21:31 Report Abuse


English "Prof"

I could not believe my luck today.....I have been trying to contact eChinacities to tell them of two advertisers may be scamming their readers on this web site and they are just like a well known USA LIST company, never get back to you....

One will not pay me for part time work I did in BJ and won't talk to me, their staff tell me its nothing to do with them and the other sent me to Hong Kong visa office ( I was going to HK because I knew a visa could only be got from there, I was on the mainland and I am a UK national) with no word I needed a medical report. Then they take 14 days to give me the address of a place in Shenzhen to go on a 5 day visa (the first place they tell me did not do a service under 5 days) They said they will pay me for September but I ask again and again and they never talk of it. Watch out for Language House and Universal English both in Beijing Full text of email available to show the full story. Any one ever tried to get legal redress here in China....Not to mention East China Normal University thatlied to me last year and got me here on a tourist visa. Now a polite email asking for you bosses details is just ignored.... stay away from all three I say

Sep 20, 2011 02:56 Report Abuse



To sum things up - if you're a moron, you'll end up getting screwed (universally speaking).

Sep 18, 2011 18:15 Report Abuse



I went to a job interview for a teaching position in Shenyang.

The company - ESL English - pressured me into agreeing to their contract and starting within two days even though I reside 300 miles away. I declined. Any serious job would expect you to give your employer some notice. Also I wondered why they always seem to be hiring?!
Google " the truth about teaching English in China" and you will find some good posts.

Sep 17, 2011 05:49 Report Abuse



I agree, this a great post and I wish I knew to research BKL before I signed with them. I just wish I knew what the scams were actually. I have found so much Information from a 5 minutes search that I would have stayed clear of them if only I knew. And to passenger... huh?

Sep 16, 2011 19:24 Report Abuse



dude are you working with BKL now?u are a dead meat,please it is better you find your way out as soon as possible,kenny and matha are the no.1 mafia in this field.they will always tell u company police and at the end you will have nothing i bet u to wait and see.....

Sep 18, 2011 18:07 Report Abuse



This is a great post and I wish my friend was aware of this or did any research about scams before actually going to China.

Mar 02, 2011 08:45 Report Abuse



Passenger. Your rant is impossible to understand for the lay bystander. Can you rephrase it?

May 28, 2010 00:53 Report Abuse



cann't believe this shit comment is made by the echinacity? dont pay , never pay to someone you have not met, how about companies pay YOU,YOU the fees you collect from time to time for advert,publishing things, how dare you write that shit.

May 27, 2010 15:48 Report Abuse