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

Sidney event marking end of the Second World War cancelled because of COVID-19

Town Crier Kenny Podmore plans to mark the occasion with a Proclamation of Peace

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Greater Victoria liquor stores see spike in sales amidst COVID-19

Customers are buying go-to products in larger quantities

Spring shift in service includes no weekend late night bus services in Greater Victoria

Annual shift into spring sees additional decrease in frequency on multiple routes

UVic Vikes new basketball coach on the fast track

At 26, Shalie Dheensaw assumed head coaching role

VIDEO: ‘Used gloves and masks go in the garbage,’ says irked B.C. mayor

Health officials have said single-use gloves won’t do much to curb the spread of COVID-19

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

POLL: Will you be able to make your rent or mortgage payment this month?

With the COVID-19 delivering a devastating blow to the global economy, and… Continue reading

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Black Press Media ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

Nanaimo man arrested after allegedly setting house fire

Firefighters arrived to find mobile home ablaze on Barnes Road in Cedar on Thursday

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open next week

Dogs are property, not kids, B.C. judge tells former couple

Court decision made on competing lawsuits over Zeus and Aurora — a pit bull and pit bull cross

B.C. senior gives blood for 200th time, has ‘saved’ 600 lives

There was no cutting of cake for Harvey Rempel but he’s challenging youth to start donating blood

Most Read