“This warehouse… does not exist!”
In 2011, an American client approached InstantChina, saying he found an amazing deal online.
A Japanese distributor in Suzhou, China was selling Sharp and Sony TVs that had recently been manufactured at nearby factories. The wholesale prices were very low. The client couldn’t come to China himself, so he wanted a consultant to go in his stead to check out the product at the warehouse.
“As long as the merchandise exists, I will make the order.”
At the client’s direction, InstantChina consultant Nigel Bai drove to Suzhou in person. The warehouse address: 6 Yu Shan Rd. When Nigel arrived, however, he couldn’t find anything nearby that looked like a warehouse. He entered the massage parlor located at 2 Yu Shan Rd, but the receptionist mentioned that the building behind them was 8 Yu Shan Rd. Nothing existed at 6 Yu Shan.
Having kept in close touch with the client over Skype, Nigel had the client send over the Chinese warehouse manager’s phone number. He called the number a few times, but nobody answered. With a little research, Nigel discovered the number was from Guangdong, a province half a country away.
Nigel then had the client contact the warehouse manager directly to explain the situation. The manager never responded, cutting all communication with the client—the warehouse didn’t exist, the Japanese company didn’t exist, and the scam artist didn’t even live in Suzhou. He had a convincing website, though.
If an offer in China looks too good to be true, it is certainly worth investigating before putting your money down. For InstantChina’s service fee of a little over 1000 yuan, the client was able to avoid being cheated out of over 100,000 yuan (US$16,500, £10,000). To him, it was well worth having a man on the ground in China.
Photos Nigel took for the client. A massage parlor located at 2 Yu Shan Lu, and a China Unicom branch at 8 Yu Shan Lu. No warehouse in sight.
A street sign showing all of the nearby roads. Nigel had the client send this photo to the “warehouse manager,” to confirm that they were in the right location. They received no response.