Chinese international students are reportedly being targeted by a devious scam that has lost victims millions of dollars around the world.
The scam, which involves con artists persuading their victims to fake their own kidnapping, has victimized many in Australia, MailOnline reports.
Local authorities Victoria have recently released images showing staged kidnapping scenes where victims are gagged and bound.
The images are reportedly sent by the victims themselves to their parents in a bid to receive “ransom” money. They then transfer the amount to the scammers.
In an interview with The Feed, one unnamed female victim admitted to losing almost 500,000 Australian dollars ($370,000) to the telephone scam.
Like many phone scams earlier reported, the woman’s manipulation began with a call from someone speaking in Mandarin.
After being initially informed that she was about to receive a DHL delivery, she was then transferred to a supposed police officer.
The conversation with the fake officer instilled fear in the woman after she was threatened that she would be imprisoned for her alleged ties to a notorious criminal involved in transnational financial crime. She even fell deeper into the trap after she was sent a fake warrant with her picture on it.
Out of fear of getting into further trouble, the victims are easily convinced to keep silent and manipulated to pay money to help protect their innocence.
“Every time they made me send money, there was a reason. At the start, I wouldn’t understand. They would explain it, and I would pretty much understand. But not everything. I just trusted them, so I did what they said,” the victim was quoted as saying.
The woman was told she needed to pay 4,000 Australian dollars ($3,000) for “expedited investigation fees” cost, another 90,000 Australian dollars ($66,500) supposedly for a security bond and 250,000 Australian dollars ($185,000) for a civil liability case.
To come up with the money, the scammers trained their victims to dupe their own parents with a fake kidnapping.
“I was worried and very scared. He said this case is a classified case, so I can’t tell anyone about it,” she said.
In the span of ten days, the victim had transferred almost $370,000 to the scammers.
During the fake kidnapping, the numerous calls and texts from her parents were left unanswered.
“I really wanted to answer the phone, but it was a kind of ‘mind control’. It was a psychological control. I didn’t dare answer them…I just grew more nervous and didn’t know what to do,” she explained.
While she was eventually tracked and found safe by her worried parents using an iPhone application, no arrest has been made so far.
Victoria police are currently working with the Chinese Embassy and the Chinese Consulate-General in their investigations to uncover more about the scam that has so far victimized at least 50 people across Australia.
“We want to remind all foreign students that the Chinese police will not arrest you in Canada, or ask you to take photos or videos of yourselves pretending to be the victim of crime,” said Vancouver Police Sergeant Jason Robillard.
“Legitimate contact from the Chinese authorities will be through your local police. We are here to help you. If you are confused or scared, reach out to your local police department in Canada.”
Authorit ies shared these important notes about “virtual kidnapping”:
Police in China or the Chinese government cannot arrest people in Canada.
All policing-related contact from the Chinese government will be through local police.
Canadian or Chinese authorities will not ask you to destroy a phone or to take photos or videos of yourself pretending to be the victim of a crime.
If you are contacted by someone claiming to be the Chinese police and they ask you to be of assist and investigation by pretending to be the victim of a crime, call the police for assistance even if they tell you not to.
If you feel unsafe or threatened, call 911 or Victoria police’s non-emergency line at 250-995-7654
Featured image via Victoria Police