Fake traffic accidents
In China, many cars have installed a camera that records what happens in front of the vehicle during the time since the car is started until it is turned off.
This trend started a couple of years ago. Why did it start? Is it to have some proof in case of accidents, so insurance companies don’t have any excuse to not pay? Or is it so the guilty part in an accident doesn’t try to manipulate the truth? In part, yes, but there is also another reason which is quite dark and shameful… the fake accidents!
Fake accidents usually happen between a pedestrian or a biker and a car. The pedestrian/biker hits the car on purpose, starts crying in pain (real or not) and demands money from the car driver to go to the hospital. This might sound strange, but it is a relatively common event in China. There is no social security here, like we have in Europe, and every time you go to the hospital you have to pay from your own pocket. The “fake accident scam” works in most cases because the car driver (the victim) will most probably be very nervous, will not want to waste all day waiting for the police to arrive and make a decision, and will not want to spend all day accompanying the supposedly run over person to the hospital. Giving him/her the demanded money and getting out of there seems like the best option.
In China this scam is called 碰瓷 pengci, which literally means “crashing ceramics”. It is called with this rather curious name because in its origins (which, according to Baidu, are in the Qing dynasty), the pedestrian who crashed into a vehicle (in those times, it must have been a rickshaw!) would be carrying a vase in his hands. The vase would break in the fall and the scammer would then say that that vase was a very expensive relic from such and such dynasty and demand compensation accordingly.
Nowadays the scam has evolved and the scammer directly jumps on top of the car or lies down in front of it, without even touching it, when the car is stopped, and then starts screaming of (fake) pain. Every few months the news report some new especially stupid try, like one scammer that, seeing that the driver was not even reacting at his fall, grabbed the windshield wipers of the car and threatened to pull them out if the driver didn’t give him 500 RMB. There was also a very famous case in Beijing in which a foreigner run over a middle-aged lady (well, it was not clear if he had really run her over or if she was pretending), she asked him for money, he refused, she grabbed at his clothes and didn’t let him go until the police came. Then the police found out he was working illegally and he was expelled from China.
Chinese people have a good sense of humour and many of them make jokes with this scam now. Check this video where you can see a ranking with the 10 funniest scam attempts (if you understand Chinese, the host’s comments are hilarious!). By the way, this scam not only happens in China, as some of the cases in that video happened in Hong Kong and South Korea, and I have seen others from Taiwan.
So, if you drive in China… be aware of this scam! It seems the probability is higher if you drive an expensive car: the scammers will head for you because they think they’ll get more money! If this happened to me I’m not really sure how I would react… maybe I would have a fit of rage and start kicking the scammer, so at least he had some real pain to scream about!
I’ve heard about these fake accidents and some of the “victims” can be very dramatic. Lol, jumping on top of the car these days. They are really taking it to a whole new level :D I suppose it doesn’t matter if the car drives fast or slow. As you said, if it looks like you have money, you might be a better target. Maybe drive around with your dog and always be ready to let her out ;)
I think usually they do it when the car is going slowly or has enough space to stop… unless they want to be killed or seriously hurt!
I’ve seen some pretty hilarious “accidents” in Russia, too, where a pedestrian throws himself on top of the car.
And, yes, that happened to a friend in LA, too — her insurance company didn’t even want the hassle and paid off the “hurt cyclist” who ran into her car.
But we’ve also read some horror stories from China, about how sometimes when a motorist actually hits a pedestrian, it’s cheaper to make sure they are dead than injured, so the driver runs them over a second time, just to be sure. True or false?
That has happened sometimes, yes. The “logic” is that if you badly hurt someone, you will have to pay for the medical treatment and hospitalization for god knows how long. If you kill the person, you will have to make a one-time payment to the family.
Those scams, seen it even in Finland but it was some alcoholic trying to jump in front of few cars. Later the day it was in the news that he actually asked for “compensation” fee from all the drivers who actually cared.
Those fake accidents can be also rather dangerous in China. Few years I remember that they showed on Shaanxi TV (or was it Xi’an TV?) how a traffic camera filmed how such a fake accident person got killed by a car. Not because of the initial fake crash but because the driver back up again and drove few times over the faker to make sure that she has not to pay…
Yes, that’s what I told Autumn above. But it’s risky, because if there is proof that you did it on purpose you will go to jail… I wonder if they apply the death penalty for those cases, because in fact it is intentional murder…
So far it is not intentional murder in China. They want to change it but at least in the beginning of this year it was only ruled as a traffic accident and thus a one time payment is due and also limited prison time. The drivers do it as they don’t want to pay lifetime for the victim in case they survive with some disability…crazy world. FIL even has a friend who died due to this happening few years back!
Nice post Marta, I really miss China when this kind of stuff was standard news!!
Haha, thanks! But I’d prefer these things didn’t happen at all xD
Hahaha. With all of the cameras everywhere, you’d have to do a lot of location scouting and calculations of angles to pull this off without being caught on tape (which I’m sure they do). Just one of about ten reasons I don’t drive here.
I was just explaining to a China newbie why people lay in the streets after minor crashes involving ebikes and she was shocked, just shocked. I didn’t explain it was just tip of iceburg. Best not to blow their minds too early into the China experience.
I can’t help thinking that all these scams would simply disappear if there was a social welfare system covering at least accidents… but I’m crazy, right? A communist country with social welfare, how ludicrous!
We have a bit of this happening here in India too… crazy, eh?
Argh! All bad things are learned fast!
Hehehe! Sad but true. :-) I don’t see so much of this here in Jakarta… however ‘macet’ traffic is so bad that it would be pretty impossible to have such “accidents!”
This fake accident bullshit is quite common in Malaysia too. Here the recommended thing to do is usually to end up making a police report. If the fake accident perpetrator stands up and causes a scene, then you drive off immediately to the police station to file a report. If the fake accident perpetrator lies on the floor rolling around then you go and help him but if he then insists you pay him on the spot, you drive away immediately to the police station to file a report too.
It isn’t just a matter of inconvenience, but for your own safety and long term convenience. There are cases here where you decided to settle matters on the spot, but just when you think everything is resolved, the other party goes by himself to file a police report implicating you, and then the police will pay you a visit. How things work here is if there is an A vs B situation, when A files police report and B keeps quiet, then when the police opens investigation, B is the suspect and will be the focus of investigation. That hassle will be way worse than going to file a report in the first place.
That definitely sounds like the more reasonable way of dealing with this. But it seems in China many times the police doesn’t want to get involved and just tells you to “discuss it with the other party”…
There was a video circulating on social media a couple of years ago of a girl running towards the car and crashing on the hood of the car. It was so funny – little did she know the guy had a dash cam. Most people have them in Taiwan these days.
Yes, almost everybody has it in China too! These scammers will need to change their technique…
It was either last year or the year before that the Chinese Gala actually did a pretty funny skit with this. This – and the overall nonsense of China traffic – is why I don’t have a license here.
Have you managed to watch the gala? I’m very impressed, haha, I think it’s terribly boring. I have a license but I only drove once, I’m very scared of the electric bikes popping out of nowhere all the time :/
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