Yes, yes, we know that China has a lot of fake handbags, knockoff watches, and pirated DVDs. That's ho-hum, but the country seems to be all about pushing the envelope and testing the limits of what can be faked. Let's take a look at the 9 most outrageous things ever faked in China.
1. Fake Receipts
Photo: China's Ministry of Public Security
What? Why in the world would anyone need phony receipts? To claim fake tax deductions and defraud employers for reimbursements, of course! In fact, fake receipts or "fapiao" is big business in China - for example, employees of the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline managed to submit $6 million worth of fake receipts over the years.
You can get any kind of fake receipts you want. Need travel receipts? How about something more, uh, specialized like waste material receipts? Not a problem - in fact, the business of forged receipt is so consumer friendly (after all, it is a service industry) that you can get special discounts and same-day delivery of the goods. [Source: NY Times]
2. Fake Businessman or "White Guy in a Tie"
Writer Mitch Moxley was approached by a friend of a friend in Beijing and offered a sweet deal: "Basically, you put on a suit, shake some hands, and make some money. We'll be in 'quality control,' but nobody's going to be doing any quality control. You in?"
He was, and the deal was indeed very good. Moxley was paid $1,000 a week, put up in a fancy hotel, wined and dined. All he had to do was be himself, a white guy in a tie:
... so I became a fake businessman in China, an often lucrative gig for underworked expatriates here. One friend, an American who works in film, was paid to represent a Canadian company and give a speech espousing a low-carbon future. Another was flown to Shanghai to act as a seasonal-gifts buyer. Recruiting fake businessmen is one way to create the image—particularly, the image of connection—that Chinese companies crave. My Chinese-language tutor, at first aghast about how much we were getting paid, put it this way: “Having foreigners in nice suits gives the company face.” [Source: The Atlantic]
3. Fake Apple Store
The Apple Store in Kunming, China sure looks the part: gleaming iPads displayed on minimalist beechwood tables, crisp marketing graphics and eager associates in blue shirts ready to assist you with the latest gadgets. But something juuuust doesn't seem quite right, as blogger BirdAbroad noted.
Well, as you've guessed, though the Apple products were real, the store itself was completely fake. But you know what's amazing about the level of fakery? Even the employees working there believed that they were actually working for Apple!
4. Fake IKEA Store
If you think about it, Apple Stores are small and therefore quite easy to copy. But how about the Swedish furniture behemoth IKEA? Now their warehouse-styled stores are SO huge that they'd be impossible to knockoff, right? Not in China!
Meet 11Furniture, which has copied not only IKEA's products but also its signature blue-and-yellow color scheme, 100,000-square feet warehouse complete with showrooms, mini pencils, and cafeteria-style restaurant! Well, at least they don't have products with unpronounceable Swedish names ... [Source: Daily Mail]
5. Fake Bank
Fake store? That's cute, said rice trader Lin Chunping. How about a bank? The little-known businessman's profile shot up like a rocket when state media reported that he had bought Delaware-based Atlantic Bank for $60 million.
Lin said that it took him two years to negotiate the purchase of the bank from "the Jews" (whom the Chinese view in great respect for having superior business skills - the fact that Lin could outwit them for control of the US bank added much to his stature). Lin's hometown gave him prestigious political appointments and people started calling him a "legendary" businessman.
Problem was, not only did Lin not buy the Atlantic Bank, there was no such bank to begin with. After Chinese reporters couldn't locate the bank anywhere in the United States, Lin was arrested for an unrelated fraud and was forced to give up his cushy political job.
6. Fake University
Photo: Jinan Times
It looks like a real university, it feels like a real university, it is a real university, so how could it be fake? By having a fake university inside a real one, of course!
The daily newspaper Jinan Times explains how some "university students" found out the hard way when they realized that, on the eve of their graduation, they have been attending four years of fake schooling.
A Chinese man named Zhao Lianshan sent high school graduate admission letters to the Shandong Institute of Light Industry. The school was real, all right, but the letters were fake. Zhao had rented classrooms from the university and hired teachers to teach "college classes".
The charade went on for four years ... until the students found out that they wouldn't be getting their diplomas from the Shandong Institute because they had never actually been enrolled in it. That's when Zhao decided to become enlightened and skipped town.
7. Fake Police Academy
Wei Zhenhai sees your fake university and raises you this: fake police academy. Better yet, fake police academy that trained rookie officers to spot counterfeiters of fraudulent products! Hah! That man has got style ...
... but not too much brains. Wei was quickly caught when he boasted about the scheme to undercover police officers.
8. Museum of Fakes
Forged artwork is nothing new, but a museum filled with forged exhibits? Only in China!
China is undergoing a museum "boom" with nearly 400 museums opening every year. And with all that money to be made in charging admissions, the temptation of a fast buck is just too much.
The 60 million yuan ($9.8 million) Jibaozhai Museum opened with great fanfare a few years ago. Its 12 exhibition halls were packed with unique artifacts such as this vase above. It's supposedly from the 17th century Qing Dynasty, yet it was decorated with surprisingly modern cartoon characters.
The museum's chief consultant Wei Yingjun acknowledged that though the museum did not have the proper authorizations to operate, he was "quite positive" that at least 80 of the museum's 40,000 exhibits had been authenticated. That's an astounding authenticity rate of 0.2%!
Wang Zonquan, the museum's owner, was even more confident, saying "even the gods cannot tell whether the exhibits were fake or not." [Source: The Telegraph]
9. Fake Death (The Heat is Too Damned High!)
A soft drink vendor in Hubei Province came up with a brilliant scheme to defraud the government. First, he faked his own death. Then he got his friends to parade his sheet-covered "corpse" around town, claiming that urban management workers had beaten him to death and demanding tens of thousands of yuan in compensation.
But it was too damned hot to die (for real). During the rally, the "lifeless" man jumped up and grabbed a drink of water after he couldn't bear the heat anymore. [Source: China Daily]