Bus Helpers in China

How the scam works:

You are eager to see the Great Wall and your flight has landed safely in China. As you come out of the airport, a sea of buses fills the scenery.

You don’t see many things written in English and you don’t speak Mandarin. Being extremely tired after the flight and carrying a ton of luggage makes it a bit difficult to find a proper bus.

The touts know this and offer to get you through the crazy maze, find your bus and get you on it. Getting help with the luggage is a bonus, so you don't mind giving him a couple of bucks as a tip.

However, once he literally puts you on your bus seat, the helper will ask you for money, to get your ticket from the driver and for him to keep the change.

Let’s say the ticket is 20RMB (Chinese Yuan Renmimbi) and he will ask you for 50 (about $8US). The biggest scam is yet about to happen: you hand him 50RMB to get you the ticket from the front of the bus and off he goes. Next the driver yells, just so you hear: “Fake! Fake!”

The tout comes back to you giving you the look and says you gave them a fake 50. He hands the note back to you and says: “You should get off the bus, or give the driver a real 50”. The problem is, he just switched your bill with a fake one and gave you back the counterfeit.

The second time you pay they take it, and share your extra 80RMB between the two of them soon after.

How to avoid:

If you accept help from people to find you the bus, make sure you talk directly to the driver and never take your eyes off the money. Since the driver meets hundreds of tourists a day, it’s impossible for him not to know how to say “20” in English, when you ask him how much the ticket is.

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