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China Scams or Schemes: Finding An Honest Agent Or Recruiter In China - Mission Impossible?Actually it is not impossible but from our 4 years of experience you'd have much better luck finding a hooker doing volunteer work at the Red Cross or a foreign ESL teacher driving his Porsche in Beijing.  Ethical and honest agents and recruiters in China are as common as 40 year-old virgins in Manhattan.  In fact, in all of China there are only 329 agents and recruiters that are legally registered and licensed to operate in China. Despite this, there are over 7,000 self-proclaimed "recruiters" operating both inside and out of China, posting over 300,000 bogus ads every year citing fake "average salaries" to lure the naive and gullible into their web of doom and deception. 

They are devious and deadly and if you take their bait the damage can be as little as $500 for an up front fee to over $50,000 in the case of identity theft. So how to spot these parasites that plague the expat teaching indcustry of China?  Its not as hard as you may think friends. But first you need to know that these bottom feeders fall into 4 categories:

A) Honest and ethical 

B) Dishonest & Unethical 

C) Identity thieves 

D) Greedy (taking more than a 20%-66% monthly commission of teacher  salaries.) 

All of the China agents and recruiters advertise openly and with sneaky blind ads on the internet and on multiple ESL/TEFL forums which lends them false credibility and wide viewership. Many even pretend to be HR directors of non-existent schools. So how to find one of the 329 licensed/registered agents or recruiters?  There are 4 easy and FREE ways to filter out all the really rotten apple agents and recruiters, and the good ones will be what is left. Here is what we recommend...

[1] BEFORE you send copies of your passport and visas to any agent or recruiter, send them this form letter and ask them to complete and return it to you with all the blanks completed  Honest agents and recruiters will not object to transparency and be happy to prove they are legitimate. If they refuse to fill in all the blanks or fail to return the letter, move on and avoid all further contact with them as they are probably scammers. The letter is self-explanatory.  For those who do return the letter, be sure you verify the information online, especially the registration, which you can do at the below links or by asking a CFTU volunteer to run a check (just send an email) 

Shanghai AIC:

Beijing AIC:!query.dhtml 

Guangzhou AIC: 

[2] You can google search the name of the agent with the words "problem, scam, complaint" and see what if anything pops up. 

[3] You can check the various CTA and CFTU blacklists at and

[4] You can post an enquiry about and particular agent on ESL/TEFL forums by name and ask others if they had any good or bad experiences with a particular agent.  But here are a few things to remember to obtain from whatever agent you plan to use (Just in case things go bad) 

A) Their full and complete legal name as per a scanned color copy of their government id card (if Chinese) and a full color scan of their passport (if they are foreigners) 

B) Contracts that are in English that are signed, dated, and sealed on each page which specifically address working locations, hours, days, pay, insurance, visas, release letters, and who pays for all of them. You need to have a hard copy original in your hands BEFORE coming to China along with your Z visa. 

C) Verifiable office address and land-line telephone numbers of the agents since more than 80% operate only from disposable mobile phone numbers and free email addresses like,,,,,, 

Lastly, if any agent tells you to come to China on an L, F, or M visa to work RUN! You can only legally work in China with a Z visa and that Z visa needs to be provided to you along with a signed contract BEFORE you buy your plane tickets. Scam agents won't care about your legal problems, deportation, fines, nor reentry bans if you get caught working without a Z visa. Whatever they say verbally, make sure it is in writing in your contract or take a pass on that agent.  Follow the above advice and you will greatly reduce your chances of being swindled. And NEVER give copies of your passport and visa to anyone other than a "direct employer". If you need to know why, you can read this article: And here is how just one typical bad apple can ruin your entire China adventure in one single day...


-1 # No problem laoweiLiu 2013-10-01 03:03
You laowei teachers are so stupid. How many teachers see this stupid article. Most too lazt to read anyway. For every teacher who find their own job 5 use agent and pay their 40% to have connection they can not find until they speak Chinese and find clever way to pay principal. Just shut up and pay your fee laowai!

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