Caution required when dealing with unexpectedrequests

Recently, there have again been multiple reports of Swiss companies receiving fraudulent enquiries from alleged prospective customers in China.


Caution is advised, especially if you receive unexpected delivery requests from unknown Chinese companies. Typically, these enquiries involve larger orders, for which a deposit of 30% to 40% is offered, and a letter of credit* for the remainder of the order. The supplier is asked to travel to China to sign the contract. In most cases, a contract is actually concluded in China. However, the European parties to the contract are then asked by the purchasers to seal the conclusion of the contract with an expensive meal or valuable gifts.

Once these requirements have been met, the Chinese purchasers suddenly break off all contact. The purchasers, which are generally bogus companies, cannot be traced. The contract cannot be implemented. Any services already provided are not paid for. It is not advisable to travel to China to sign a contract. Instead, suggest that the prospective Chinese customers come to Europe and that the travel expenses incurred could be reimbursed with the first payment made as part of the order. If you receive no response to this offer, you can be fairly certain that the Chinese customer is not seriously interested in purchasing your products or services.

The following checklist is also helpful for examining how serious the Chinese partner is:

  • Does the enquiry involve a business deal with a high volume of orders?
  • Was your quotation accepted very quickly and without significant renegotiations or requests for a discount?
  • Are your Chinese contacts using e-mail addresses from "Yahoo", "Hotmail", "Gmail" or other free providers?
  • Are communications with your Chinese contacts essentially conducted via e-mail, fax and mobile phone numbers?
  • Have you managed to reach someone on the landline number indicated by the Chinese company?
  • Does the company have its own website?
  • Have technical details/specifications been discussed?
  • Have you received information about the precise intended use or the end user of your products?

If the answer to questions 1-4 above is Yes and the answer to questions 5-8 is No, this is a good indication that the business intentions of the Chinese company are not serious.

PS: Prospective Chinese customers are also increasingly offering so-called "letters of authorization" in order to have the contract certified by a Chinese notary’s office. In this case, you should insist on certification by a notary’s office in Switzerland.

Country Consultung China(various dates in March and June)



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