Trust me, I’m a laowai: Canadian scam man in Shanghai disappears with 300K

A new year and a new douche bag to add to our “Bad Laowai” category. Ryan Fedoruk, a 40-year-old former part-time English teacher from Canada, sublet about 30 apartments to more than 100 foreigners in Shanghai before taking the money and running.

Eva Gao, the Chinese lawyer representing his victims, sums things up on her blog:

Fedoruk began subletting apartments in Shanghai in early 2011. He would post ads online, particularly SmartShanghai.com using multiple accounts, and describe himself as the landlord. He would also refer to himself as the landlord in his contracts with tenants.

He rented one apartment after another, and his so-called business gained steam in the middle of the year when many newly-arrived university students, mostly from Europe, were looking for housing. At its peak, he was renting close to 30 apartments in Puxi and Pudong to more than 80 tenants at the same time.

Then the school semester started and business slowed. By mid-semester, the perpetually increasing number of tenants that he had relied on for cashflow had disappeared. He had trouble finding tenants for a couple apartments in the French Concession area and, compounding the problem, would give steep discounts to fill empty rooms in others. “For him it became nothing more than filling rooms,” wrote one tenant who worked part-time for Fedoruk. “It seemed like he was desperate.”

Over time, a rumor started going around: Ryan Fedoruk does not return deposits. In August, a prospective tenant had even written a lengthy email to warn others about renting from Fedoruk. According to her email, a realtor told her that “everyone knows Ryan. He is what we call a second-hand landlord (二房东). He rents and sublets, then he takes the money from the tenants but doesn’t pay the landlord. Always finds a way to run away.”

The email unfortunately did not circulate to many of Fedoruk’s tenants and he, according to those he abandoned, left Shanghai on December 24, 2011 without returning rent deposits and without paying rent to many of his landlords.

For additional coverage, check out the initial story on Shanghaiist, along with a follow-up post that tracks down a bunch of pictures of the con man, as well as relays the story of one of his victims:

Ryan picked me up with his taxi where I was and he took me to his place. I was very cautious, you know, I asked many questions, asked for a real contract, read everything, asked for a deposit receipt and he gave me his passport photocopy as a proof of his good will. I had told him on the phone about all my previous issues with flats in Shanghai, the difficulties to communicate with Chinese Landlords, my previous deposit which had been taken from me and he replied me with a text I still have: “I understand my dear .. I hear that a lot about landlords .. but I am good guy”.

This dude’s certainly not the only laowai loser scamming his way through China, but he’s the first I’ve heard of with so many victims. If you have any information about Fedoruk or his crimes, be sure to get in touch with Eva Gao.