Scams and citizen’s arrests

In 2009 I was living in Beijing and loving it. I found that the Chinese people were very friendly and hospitable. Being a foreigner who spoke Chinese I picked up some voluntary work at the local police station, translating when foreigners got into some (drunken) trouble.

One day I received a knock on my apartment door. After opening the door, I saw a representative from the power company. He showed me his ID and presented me with the power bill (about $50). I gave him the fee, and he presented me with a receipt. I closed the door and went to my housemate’s room to ask him for his share of the bill. He looked at me, shook his head and told me that our power was pre-pay… I had been scammed!

I was mad. In five years this was the first time I had been scammed in China! I stormed down to the police station and spoke with one of my friends there. He laughed at me when I asked him to open an investigation for my $50 fraudulent power bill. He told me I might as well forget about it, but I was furious. I told him if he wasn’t going to do anything about it, I could arrest the scammer myself, and to humour me he wished me luck.

A month later, to my delight he returned. I invited him inside while I ‘prepared the bill’. He sat in the living room while I mobilised my housemate. As I was counting the money, my housemate went behind him, grabbed his arms and pulled them up behind his back – we conducted our first citizen’s arrest! We marched the criminal out of the apartment, through the courtyard, across a busy road and to the police station. On the way I called my friend in the police, who in disbelief met me outside the station.

We deposited him at the door and the friendly police dealt out some swift justice and sent him on his way. Scammer problem solved!

by Simon Appleton