How I almost got scammed? Traditional Chinese Medicine Scam in China 5

When I was travelling in Shanghai on a package tour in 2014, I was met with a nasty scam that wants to separate you from your money, and it might also cost your health.

So, What is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is based on more than 2500 year of Chinese medical practice that includes various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage (tui na), exercise (qigong), and dietary therapy.

The most famous TCM physician is Hua Tuo, who lived in the late Eastern Han dynasty and was the first person being recorded in China to use anaesthesia during surgery. Hua Tuo was born in Year 140 and died in Year 208.

In China, the most famous TCM is Beijing Tong Ren Tang (TRT). It was founded in 1669, designated to provide medicines for the royal pharmacy of the imperial palace of the Qing Dynasty for 188 years, and is a listed company.

So, What is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Scam?

During our last leg of our tour in Shanghai, we were brought to a Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic, and was told that the TCM was the famous Tong Ren Tang (TRT), after we did some research, the company is called”同仁科技” (Tong Ren Ke Ji) instead of the Beijing Tong Ren Tang (TRT)

When we walked in, we were looking at the history of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and was quickly escorted into a room, where there were signs mentioned that there is the Free foot massage, and the signs have mentioned never to tip the person massaging your feet.


This being the last leg of the tour, most of us were pretty wary of all the scams that have been happening, and we know that nothing is free. A group of us including my family decided to sit right at the back and insisted NOT having any FREE foot massage.

The free foot massage comes with a ‘Health Talk’. Although it is called a ‘Health Talk’, it sounded more like a sales pitch. The ‘TCM practitioner’ started mentioning that they have cure various actors, actress and royalties.


The ‘TCM practitioner’ had wanted to do some pulse reading and to give us some diagnosis, they had decided to target my parents instead of my siblings and I. My mum being wary of scams decided to dodge them and not to allow them to do pulse reading, and when they wanted to check my dad’s pulse, my mum mentioned that she does not believe in TCM, and ask them to leave us alone.

After we left the place, another tour member shared with us that she met the same incident when she was in Beijing, and the ‘TCM practitioner’ has given her a wrong diagnosis. Therefore, she had seen through their scam and did not purchased anything from them. But had also mentioned that other tour members in Beijing had spent a few thousand dollars on the medicine.


Traditional Chinese Medicine can be kind of complicated as certain herbs might have an adverse effect if it interact with certain medication.  If the ‘TCM practitioner’ is able to give the wrong diagnosis, there is also a high possibility that they might not have the right knowledge in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Have you been scammed before? Share me with your scammed experience in the comment.

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5 thoughts on “How I almost got scammed? Traditional Chinese Medicine Scam in China

  • Jeff

    I just returned from a Beijing trip where we booked a day tour to the Great Wall, last 2nd stop was exactly the same brand you mentioned a fake Tong ren tang place.

    Same foot massage, some kind of essential oil that burnt the skin hot and quickly and then in comes a bunch of “professors” that started to perform rediculous “qi gong” things on us, which is just a play with static electricity, finally they targeted my wife to have her ovaries cleared with qi gong, they proved it by spraying iodine and there were color changes on the skin, but we all know because he used his knuckle to touch her belly which had starch.

    They tried to sell is 1800rmb worth of medicine