End of the Line cover

End of the Line: How to Beat China’s Scam Callers

Our guide to dealing with and identifying common phone scams

“Hi, it’s Little Zhang, your long-lost friend from middle school! Listen, can you do me a favor?” comes the voice over your phone. It may at first sound like the rekindling of a beautiful old friendship, but wait...you don’t remember this Zhang guy, he’s calling on a “withheld” number, and now he’s asking for cash for emergency surgery.

That’s right, “Little Zhang” is actually a fraudster, and his ploy is common. Phone scams cost people and businesses in China over 35.3 billion yuan in 2020 alone according to Jiemian News.

Scammers have become increasingly sophisticated since the days they just rang up out of the blue and asked for money. Now, they may know almost everything about you: your name, address, workplace; even the names of people on your phone contact list from the times you helpfully splashed those details on social media or gave various apps access to your data. They are also experienced emotional manipulators, easily appealing to your good nature, and even predicting your reactions, becoming friendly or threatening in turn in order to convince you that you absolutely must hand them your hard-earned money.

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End of the Line: How to Beat China’s Scam Callers is a story from our issue, “State of The Art.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.


author Yang Tingting (杨婷婷)

Yang Tingting is a Chinese editor at The World of Chinese. Interested in telling Chinese stories, she writes mainly about culture, language, and society.

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