Apr 26

China Watch Blog has learnt that Shanghai police have detained 15 suspects who allegedly lured people into a coffee bar and charged them more than 10 times the original prices in a scam to rip-off unsuspecting victims.

A Shanghai Daily report cited police as saying that most of their victims were men who were tricked into the coffee bar by women they met in online chat rooms, or in and around the coffee bar in busy shopping areas.

The suspects even used threat or force to make the customers pay the bills. A cup of coffee cost more than 100 yuan, according to the police.

Officers said the 15 suspects included the coffee bar owner. They had scammed customers out of more than 600,000 yuan.

One victim, surnamed Liu, said he went to the coffee house in downtown Putuo District on April 12 to see a woman he met online. They were later joined by another woman. In the end, Liu was billed 9,028 yuan for two cups of coffee, some cocktail and snacks.

“One cup of cocktail cost me 860 yuan,” Liu said.

Police raided the coffee bar on April 14 and nabbed the 15 suspects.

The bar owner, surnamed Zhou, conceived the scam to turn around his failing business. He asked his girlfriend to hire young women to seduce men into the bar, police said.

Similar schemes have also been reported in other entertainment venues around Shanghai with victims mostly being newcomers and foreign visitors. Two main offenders were sentenced to 10 years in prison for ripping off 72 customers out of 210,000 yuan.

Also, many other cases have gone unreported because embarrassed foreigners or husbands hushed up the matter, absorbing the losses and rather than allow their family and friends ridicule them over their stupidity.

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