Vancouver police are issuing a new warning after a case of virtual kidnapping was reported, a type of scam that targeted at least three families last year.
Police said in a news release Thursday that fraudsters, believed to be from outside of Canada, tried to extort a 27-year-old Vancouver man out of thousands of dollars Wednesday night.
“The victim typically receives a phone call and is convinced there is a warrant for their arrest in China, or that Chinese police need help with an investigation,” said Sgt. Aaron Roed.
“The suspects then tell the victim to go into hiding and to make fake videos claiming they’ve been kidnapped. The scammers send the videos to the victim’s family and friends asking for money to pay for their release.”
In this most recent case, police were alerted of the incident before money was paid to the scammers.
Last year, at least three people fell victim to similar elaborate schemes. Police believe many of these incidents have gone unreported.
While police aren’t sure how victim’s are chose, they are typically women in their early 20s from Mainland China who are in Canada studying on a student visa.
“Police from outside Canada will never arrest you in this country, ask for photos or videos of yourself pretending to be a victim of crime,” said Roed. “Any contact from international authorities should be through your local police.”
Anyone receiving phone calls from someone claiming to represent a foreign police agency should call 911 immediately.