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How to make friends and lose money: Getting scammed in Shanghai

For the first time in my life, I wish I owned a fanny pack. It would have completed the look. I’m standing at a busy intersection in Yu Yuan, watching Western tourists, maps in hands and baseball caps on heads, filtering through the streets. I’ve got a camera over my shoulder – a nice touch. I’m not here to take any pictures, though: I’m here to get scammed.

“Hey, boy!” And so it begins. “Take my photo?” A skinny, smiling 20-something man is thrusting his phone towards me.

He stands with his friend, a shorter man in a floral shirt. I snap a photo of Smiley and Floral in front of a drab building – not exactly a great shot. I give the phone back, and he doesn’t bother to check the photo.

[Read in That’s Shanghai, May 2015]