VicPD has issued another warning to the public of ongoing extortion scams known as “virtual kidnappings.”
Police say that reports of the “virtual kidnappings” are becoming more frequent and most often target members of the Chinese community.
Victims of the scheme receive phone call with recorded messages in Mandarin or Cantonese impersonating a number from the Chinese Consulate or Chinese authority.
If the victim responds, a scammer on the other end of the line will then say the victim is wanted for arrest in China, or ask for their help in Chinese police investigation.
The scammers then convince the victim that they can avoid arrest or aid the fake investigation by pretending to be kidnapped on video.
This video is then sent to the victim’s family who are then extorted for money, while the victim is told to go into hiding from Canadian police at a motel or short-term rental.
VicPD says their Major Crimes Unit has investigated several incidents involving virtual kidnappings over the last year, with at least one example of a large sum of money being extorted from families.
In a statement on Tuesday VicPD said students from mainland China in their 20s who are studying in Canada are frequently targeted. They say that anyone who is contacted by someone claiming to be from the Chinese Consulate or Chinese Police should call the VicPD non-emergency line at (250) 995-7654, or local police.
VicPD is also asking the public to speak with students and visitors from mainland China about this scam and to encourage them to contact police if they feel unsafe or if they are contacted by potential scammers.
The police added that the Chinese Police or government cannot arrest people in Canada, and any police-related contact will be through local police.