Warning Signs of a Business Scam

Updated:  October 2018

U.S. Commercial Service has reported an increasing number of unsolicited buyer requests from China. If one or more of these characteristics look familiar, be suspicious and conduct due diligence on the Chinese entity.

“Red Flags” of a Potential Scam

  • The Chinese company contacted you, unsolicited, via the web
  • In recent years, these businesses are often supposedly located in Kunming, China
  • Sometimes a real, well-known company name is used, but the person claiming to represent the company does not work for the company and has no verifiable references
  • The representative uses a personal email address rather than the email address of the company that they claim to work for
  • They ask you to share “notarization fee” based on a percentage of the contract price 
    • The cost to have a government document notarized in China is less than $50 and the Commercial Service is not aware of any requirement to have business contracts notarized.
  • The representative wants to purchase an unusually large volume of goods
  • They insist that your senior executive travel to China to sign the contract

Protect Your Business

  • Ask for trade references, including the names and contact information of American companies the company has successfully partnered with in the past, and then contact those references.
  • Request a fax of the Chinese company’s current and valid business license issued by the Administration of Industry and Commerce. These should be readily available in Chinese and English.
  • The Commercial Service global network of trade professionals can offer valuable on-the-ground insights regarding potential sales opportunities.
  • You can order an International Company Profile which is a general background report on a specific foreign company.

This guidance was prepared by the U.S. Commercial Service in Chengdu, China