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Mounties warn of rise in ‘virtual kidnapping’ scams targeting Chinese nationals

Police warn about phony kidnapping scam
Tue, Aug 1: Police are warning about a virtual kidnapping scam that tricks victims into believing their loved-ones are in danger.

The B.C. RCMP is warning people about the reappearance of a scam it calls “virtual kidnapping,” in which victims — usually female — are tricked into believing their loved ones have been abducted.

Back in July, Mounties issued a warning about the extortion scheme which it said was specifically targeting Chinese nationals.

The scheme has been reported worldwide.

The scam works like this: an unknown caller contacts a victim, claiming to be a Chinese government official and warning that they are implicated in crimes back in China.

READ MORE: Virtual ‘kidnapping’ scam aimed at female Chinese students hits Vancouver

“They’re told that if they do not cooperate, their families in China will be harmed,” said RCMP S/Sgt. Annie Linteau.

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“And at about the same time their parents or other family members in China are contacted and they are told that their loved one here in Canada is being held against their will, and then they ask a payment is to be made for that loved one to be released.”

In August, Mounties set up a joint task force to target the extortion scheme, but investigators said incidences of the scam had died off until now.

“We did do quite a bit of outreach, specifically reaching out to some organisations that deal directly with some Chinese newcomers,” said Linteau.

READ MORE: ‘Virtual kidnapping’ scam aimed at parents with college kids spreading

But the RCMP says three new cases of “virtual kidnapping” were reported in mid-October, once again targeting female Chinese nationals.

Mounties are now ramping up their outreach, to make it clear to the community that the “kidnappings” are false, and that anyone who receives such a call should contact police and avoid complying with the scammers.

Mounties have also communicated with the Chinese consulate, which they said is reminding Chinese citizens that anyone implicated in legal cases would be contacted by mail from Chinese diplomatic missions, never by phone.