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

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Distractions

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.

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


8 Comments
  1. Better off going through an agency that has a real office and has been in business for a while. Sure, you pay additional fees, and there’s no way of being 100% safe, but as any expat knows, expats are 5-10% scumbags with priors and you shouldn’t trust a random expat to be who he says he is. At least with the local population, there is only the same level of criminality there is in any other country.

    Don’t believe me? Just look at all the expats out there with rap sheets a mile long – even (or especially) among the blogging community. I know of a (formerly) prominent blogger who used to teach university until they left amid accusations that they and an accomplice had ripped off their students by making fake collections for charity. I simply googled the person’s name (adding their little-used first name) and came up with court records showing previous convictions for someone with the same name for fraud and attempted murder in the US and Japan.

  2. A pyramid scheme that blew up. Anyway, forget it, he won’t be back and RMB300,000 won’t last long. How much did the usual tenant lose? A few thousand? Get over it people and next time don’t be so stupid.

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  4. Those damn Ryans from Canada coming over here and…oh…wait…never mind.

    I feel sorry for the victims, each lost a few thousand and had to start the new year in a rush to find new accom. I thought the actual landlords were a bit mean only giving a couple of days before evicting people mid-week.

    The moral of the story has to be not to trust fellow laowai solely based on the fact that they’re not Chinese. Us laowai are just as capable of scamming people as any Chinese landlord might be.

    For those with minimal Chinese skills, try and ask a Chinese friend to come along to help negotiate – if you’ve only been here a short time then maybe a Chinese colleague, someone who perhaps feels responsible for you and will do their best to help you as a foreign ‘guest’.

    • Profile photo of

      Lol. Yeah, it did not go unnoticed to me either that I share both a name and a nationality (and a few extra pounds) with this guy. I’m going to assume the similarities stop there.

      I’ve fortunately never had to negotiate an apartment without the help of my (Chinese) wife, but agree that you definitely want to bring along someone who is (a) fluent and (b) on your side. FOARP’s suggestion above about using an agency is also what I would recommend. The fees are well worth it, and they’ll often try to negotiate a better deal with the landlord on your behalf (as long as it doesn’t cut into their commissions, of course).

      • I know this story is a bit old now (at the time of me writing this 04/10/2012) but I just wanted to say to Ryan(Lost Laowai blog creator)that you seem to look and from reading your takes on this blog, 1000% better than that catheter tube Ryan that ripped a lot of ticked off people. Never mind the extra pounds, all of us guys get it sooner or later, but I think you look marvelous like Billy Crystal would say and as a disclaimer, even though I am from the San Francisco Bay Area, no homoerotic suggestions implied.

        Just hope this pile of dog crap on a sidewalk, will be caught if he is still in China since he definitely not hard to miss and I am not talking just his fattiness. Though if he is in Canada, can the Chinese government ask for his extradition? I know about the case of Lai Changxing where he deported back to China from Canada. I know in that case Mr. Changxing was a chinese on the run but I think the Canadian government can make the same deal for this urine stain Ryan that ripped everybody off.

        • Profile photo of

          Lol. Cheers Mario. Am curious if there’s been an update to this story since it was posted. Will have to dig around and see if I can find anything out. As for extradition from Canada, I doubt Canada would allow it, but they may cooperate with China and bring charges against the guy in Canada. I don’t know.

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