Well despite its name this scam has almost nothing to do with pottery. The name refers to a common scam in China known as ‘peng cier’ which dates back to the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911). The concept is to carry some counterfeit antiques such as a delicate and expensive vase and then pretend to accidentally bump into a passerby. The con artist would then drop the vase and claim it was the fault of the passerby after which they would try to extort a large sum of money from them.
It’s a scam that’s popular throughout the world and in China it has evolved for our more modern times to take advantage of the widely growing ownership of private vehicles. It involves one of the scam artists playing the part of the ‘broken vase’. This person will time their crossing of a road to coincide with a slowly approaching car, they then dash out in front of the vehicle and pretend to be hit by it, sometimes even going so far as to dive onto the bonnet of the car. Normally one or more other members of the scam will come along and claim to be a witness in favor of the scam artist who’s playing the part of the broken vase. They will then try to extort a huge sum of money and claim various ailments and injuries relating to the accident.
There has been a spree of these scams over recent years in China but thanks to the growing use of car DVRs, people extorting money in this way could now find the practice much more difficult. In a high profile case where the claimant, an elderly man who suffered paralysis after being knocked over in October last year, has had his 1.2 million Yuan ($200,000 US) compensation claim denied after it was ruled as a scam.
The driver who was targeted in this scam had a video camera installed in his car and captured the whole incident on this DVR. The footage showed the elderly man walking across a road busy road before running in front of the upcoming vehicle and then bracing himself for the impact.
After the courts, in Zhejiang, reviewed this evidence they found that the man had clearly staged the accident and ruled in favor of the driver. However not all targets of this scam are fortunate enough to have a Car DVR installed so they could still fall victim to this deplorable crime that not only creates a huge amount of danger on the roads, from cars swerving to avoid accidents, but also increases car insurance for all and can be traumatic for the driver and other road users.
The scams have frequently incited public uproar on Chinese social media sites. Videos of a number of failed attempts at this scam have been posted online and ridiculed by many who have demanded the government take a harder line with these criminals. This most recent case will no doubt go some way to show that the authorities are taking this more seriously. Many people have left comments on Chinese social media saying that the scam artist in this most recent case got exactly what he deserved.