VicPD is warning community members, particularly those from mainland China, about an extortion scam called a “virtual kidnapping.” (Black Press Media file photo)

VicPD warns community about ‘virtual kidnappings’

Victoria police say students from mainland China being targeted

Investigators with the Victoria Police Department are warning the public – particularly members of the Chinese community – about reports of an extortion scheme known as a “virtual kidnapping.”

Police said reports of “virtual kidnappings” have been increasing lately and officers are warning the public to be aware of these extortion attempts.

In a virtual kidnapping, police said perpetrators often target people from mainland China who are in their early 20s and are in Canada studying on a student visa.

A phone call with a recorded message in Mandarin or Cantonese is sent to the victim, often from a number that appears to be from the Chinese consulate or another Chinese authority. If the victim responds, they are informed there is either a warrant for their arrest in China or that the Chinese police need their help with an investigation.

READ ALSO: Sexual assaults, extortion on the rise even as crime rates stay low: Stats Canada

Police said the suspects eventually convince the victim to make fake videos that say they have been kidnapped or are the victim of a crime.

“These videos are then sent to the victim’s family members, who are, in turn, extorted for money,” VicPD noted. “The victim is then told to go to a motel or a short-term rental to hide from Canadian police.”

VicPD’s major crime unit detectives have investigated several virtual kidnapping files over the last year. The files carry a cost of police resources as well as an emotional cost to the victims and their families, police said.

“The perpetrators’ ultimate goals are financial, and in at least one file, significant amounts of money have been extorted from worried families.”

READ ALSO: Victoria police warn Chinese community of ‘virtual’ kidnappings

If contacted by someone claiming to be from the Chinese consulate or Chinese police who ask for participation in a similar occurrence, police advise calling the non-emergency line at 250-995-7654 or calling local police, even if told not to.

VicPD also advises speaking with students and visitors in the community who are from mainland China about these extortions and encouraging them to contact police if they feel unsafe or are contacted by people claiming to be Chinese authorities who are asking them to pretend to be the victim of a crime.

Police have also noted that the Chinese police or government cannot arrest individuals in Canada. All policing-related contact from the Chinese government is through local police as well. In addition to that, police said Canadian or Chinese authorities will not ask individuals to destroy a phone or take photos or videos pretending to be a victim of a crime.

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nominations for Victoria municipal byelection are in

Victoria will elect one councillor

City to lead discussion on John A. Macdonald Monday night

The fourth chapter of the city’s reconciliation dialogues was moved to a larger venue

Athletes gear up for Pan Am XC Cup at Bear Mountain Saturday

This is the first time Canada is hosting the championships

Extra precautions against COVID-19 put in place as tourism season arrives

Airports and border services follow federal cues to minimize spread of coronavirus

Court hears of moments before Victoria father stabbed to death in the middle of Hillside Avenue

Sentencing hearing for Daniel Creagh, charged with manslaughter, began Friday

Toddler killed in Squamish grocery store parking lot

Child’s mother taken to hospital but her condition is not known

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

B.C. mother, daughter return home after coronavirus quarantine in Asia

Jensine Morabito and her daughter were on Holland America’s Westerdam but did not catch the virus

Leap Year means we get an extra day in February, so how are you spending it?

People online have a number of suggestions and plans on how they will be spending Saturday

Greta sticker that drew outrage in Alberta not child pornography: RCMP

X-Site Energy Services has denied having anything to do with the stickers

Bald eagle hit by train in northern B.C. has a chance of survival

The raptor has been taken to OWL in the Lower Mainland for recovery

Cheslatta Carrier Nation and Rio Tinto sign a historic agreement

Co-operation crucial to stem dropping Nechako Reservoir level

Stories of sexual assault at B.C. tree planting camps ‘shocking but not surprising:’ advocate

Contractors’ association is working with trainers to create respectful culture

Most Read