A long discussion has been running on The Architects' Journal's LinkedIn page about the Yunnan Kunming Wenhua Technology Co in China. The thread started six months ago, and is still active.
This is a company that is scamming aspirant architects by dangling potential contracts in front of them, and then asking for presents - cigarettes, mainly, but a lot of them - and also asking for money up front to defray bank charges before transferring funds.
The sums seem relatively small for the effort that goes into them - for instance the company has laid on lavish banquets - and gulled architects' seem mostly to suffer lost time and travel costs rather than having their accounts plundered in a serious way. Which makes it all a bit mysterious.
This is at another level from those international lottery wins and transfers of inheritances to which we have all become wise on the internet. China is a promising market, and architects know that it does not operate in the same way as the UK, so are ready for things to seem a little strange. They may not have suffered much financially, but pride must be dented at the very least, and it is not nice to see hopes of work evaporate.
Let's hope this scam dies out in 2013.